Earth Rot – Black Tides of Obscurity Review

My dearest Holdeneye,

I hope this letter finds you happy, healthy, and at least partially clothed this time. I am in need of a favour, and there is not another alive or dead whom I could entrust with the task. You see, my storehouse of death metal doth overflow, and since there are only twenty-four hours in the British day, I simply must spread the wealth. Enclosed you will find a tasty crumpet baked by some fine Australian blokes in a troupe named Earth Rot. Now stop taking the piss out of me and get stuck in! Pip pip, cheerio, good chap!

Yours forever and for always,

Ferrous Beuller
Her Royal Majesty’s Minister of Death

How could I refuse such a tender, heartfelt, and eloquently composed request? While Ferrous may think that I’m doing him a “favour,” I must confess that the pleasure really is all mine. Last month I sampled an advance track for Earth Rot’s third full-length album, Black Tides of Obscurity, and I rather enjoyed what I heard. And now that I’ve spent some significant time with the full record, I have to say that I’m completely blown away. Black Tides of Obscurity is the sound of a band that believes the answer to the question “Should we play old school Swedish death metal or true Norwegian black metal?” is an emphatic “YES!” Literally alternating giant HM-2 riffs and burly growls with razor sharp tremolos, minor chords, and shrieks, Earth Rot has developed a fascinating style of blackened death metal that allows for some immensely powerful songwriting.

The record kicks of with some terrifying arpeggiated chords as embedded single “Dread Rebirth” gently wakes from slumber in preparation for Tom “Slaughterhouse” Waterhouse to pull the starter cord on the chainsaw riffage, and for Jared Bridgeman to begin uttering his unholy death gurgles. The track varies from full speed OSDM, to a psychedelic breakdown complete with a fantastic solo, to a black metal outro, and the whole combo gives you a good cross-section of what the rest of the album holds in store. Black metal takes the front seat on the vicious “Ancestral Vengeance,” the blistering thrash of “Serpent’s Ocean,” and the song about Satan shopping for some new headgear, “New Horns.”1 The death metal portion of Earth Rot’s personality shines through on the infinitely groovy Bolt Throwerness of “Towards a Godless Shrine” and the absolutely demented death/thrash of “Mind Killer.” And then there’s “The Cape of Storms,” a nearly unclassifiable behemoth that mixes every element of the band’s sound with a funky rock jam and somehow succeeds in being one of my favorite songs in recent memory.

Clocking in at DR 8, Black Tides of Obscurity sounds absolutely amazing. The buzzsaws, the tremolos, the growls, the shrieks, the tectonic drums, the eerie leads — everything bursts forth from speakers and headphones with power and energy. This past Sunday morning, I took a drive while blasting the album two times back-to-back, and I have to say that it was one of the best musical experiences I’ve had in quite some time. Every track is filled with compelling moments, but I firmly believe that “Towards a Godless Shrine” and “The Cape of Storms” are two of the finest death metal tracks that we will hear in all of 2020. However, the most terrifying moment award goes to album closer “Out in the Cold.” The short number is dripping with atmosphere and conjures images of a blues band playing on the decrepit porch of a remote cabin in Louisiana in an effort to summon Cthulhu from a nearby swamp — there’s something about the way that the frantic spoon riff and the submerged Stevie Ray Vaughan solo synergize into a foreboding ambient outro that tells me their evocation was successful.

I can’t tell you how grateful (and guilty) I feel that Ferrous graced me with this disgusting gem. Earth Rot’s sound is excellently represented by the cover art. Black Tides of Obscurity is a devastating monstrosity with the head of a black metal goat and the writhing tentacles of blasphemous death metal, and it should effectively storm any castle that happens to be inhabited by fans of Dismember, Immortal, Slugdge, Behemoth, Bolt Thrower, Sulphur Aeon, and many others. Much like Wachenfeldt did in 2019, Earth Rot has delivered a first quarter blackened death assault that firmly entrenches itself as the frontrunner for my album of the year.

Rating: 4.52/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 1411 kbps WAV
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: March 6th, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. That’s probably not what the song is about, but my imagination likes to think it is.
  2. This is what happens when you confiscate your reviewer’s 4.0 stamp.
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