Coffin Rot – A Monument to the Dead Review

This is death metal from Portland, Oregon. I could probably stop there and you would still know whether or not you’ll love this album. That city is absolutely dominating the genre this year, and we should probably just add a “Portland Metal” tag to WordPress as that domination extends beyond the bounds of death metal. You’re probably getting tired of me blabbing about how great the Weird City’s output has been this year, but I could comfortably fill half of my year end list if forced to choose only from records released by Portland bands. And so, I will continue to drink from the fountain until it runs dry — this is just one of the two October 18th releases from Portland that I’ll be covering. But enough of all that. I suggest you grab yourself a bottle of Gold Bond Extra Strength Medicated Powder as you’re about to come down with a painful case of Coffin Rot.

A Monument to the Dead is Coffin Rot’s first full-length, and several of the band’s members have been busy this past year releasing another debut that Carcharodon covered here. He wasn’t enamored by their take on stoner doom sludge, but I’m here to tell you that they certainly know their way around a Grave. Sounding like a tribute to the debut from those Swedish death metal giants, early Asphyx, and Cause of Death era Obituary, Monument is eight tracks and 32 minutes of groovy OSDM with spectacular vocals courtesy of Hayden Johnson. If you’re a fan of these classic bands, there’s not much here that you haven’t heard before, but Coffin Rot’s commitment to the style and ability to produce heavy, yet catchy songs in a concise manner make this album more than worth your time.

“Copremesis” opens things with a brief atmospheric intro of the creepy variety followed by big chords that lead into a speedy Swedeath riff. The track’s final minute briefly allows each of the band members to shine on their own, and it really sets the stage for the rest of the album. Doom passages emerge on “Saw Blade Suicide,” “Incubation of Madness,” “Forced Self-Consumption,” and especially “Coffin Rot,” a seven minute Asphyxian bulldozer that closes the album out splendidly. “Necrotized” features some blistering guitar and drums, but slows to a sick groove as Hayden vomits the track’s title during the chorus.  I dare you to keep your head still during the opening seconds of embedded track “Miasma of Barbarity” as guitarist Derek Johnson saws you in half with an arsenal of riffs.

In the promo blurb, Coffin Rot states that they wanted A Monument to the Dead to showcase a “clear-yet-crushing production that’s the epitome of powerful — and one which is richly analog,” and the DR 11 and my ears are here to tell you that they’ve succeeded. This has to be the most pleasing sound I’ve heard on a death metal album this year, barely edging out another Northwest band from last week. The vocals and each instrument sound great in the mix, and the openness of the production allows Brandon Martinez-Woodall’s bass to play a prominent role in the powerful music. Drummer Derek Johnson’s performance is a highlight with his frantic and charmingly flawed (read: real) delivery harkening back to the days when bands were bands and didn’t let computers make everything perfect for them. Aside from some tracks having similar flows and structures, I really can’t find much to fault here. This is very good death metal, no more, no less.

Well, Portland has done it again, and I hope it never stops doing it. A Monument to the Dead is a fantastic sounding take on old school death metal, and the songs make it an easily repeatable listen. Coffin Rot resides in the the same territory as Witch Vomit — geographically, qualitatively, and aesthetically — and they’re the kind of band that pairs equally well with a Portland craft beer or a cheap can of Rainier. Please listen responsibly.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 11 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Labels: Blood Harvest Records | Rotted Life Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 18th, 2019

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