Jungle Rot – A Call to Arms Review

In the time of caveman death metal, Jungle Rot was a monkey. Since 1995 they’ve continued to bang out the most rudimentary death metal imaginable, perpetually aimed at that sickly sweet spot right between Obituary and meatheaded quasi-hardcore like Pro-Pain and Hatebreed. Eleventh album A Call to Arms is a rallying cry for those yet to see the value in their brand of low-brow, gym-friendly death with an IQ of 13. If you paid any attention to what the band’s been cooking over the last few decades, you know what their latest has to offer – fat grooves, simplistic song structures, war and/or murder-themed lyrics, and more chugs that a frat house on Saturday night. It’s a recipe as old as Steel, and Jungle Rot see no reason to tinker with this formula fatal to the flesh. Before we get started, does anybody want to get out? Too late!

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a loveably troglodyte reliability to what Jungle Rot deliver, and the opening title track is an enjoyably dumb slab of dodo death. It’s ham-fisted and brain dead, but damn if it won’t get your head bobbing as that Sacred Reich on bath salts sound erupts anew. It’s the exact same song the band’s been flogging forever and believe it or not, it still kinda works. It’s pure 90s death-groove and it’ll make you want to slam your head against the wall and throw your buds into a wood chipper before you buckle down to that deadlift routine you read about on Roidrebels.net. What else can we really ask of a song of this ilk? And there are a few equally thyroid-harassing anthems in store for the rotted. The extra urgent “Beyond the Grave” is like Pro-Pain doing death metal after a few too many boilermakers, and “Asymmetrical Warfare” is a surprisingly spry cut that will absolutely pulverize fools in a live setting. The rowdy punch drunkness of “Genocidal Imperium” is also hard to turn up your nose at because sometimes dumb is good fun.

In all honesty, it isn’t until the album’s halfway point that the quality starts to wobble. After the last chugs of angry chug-runner1 “Vengeance and Bloodlust” fade into the distance, the Jungle Rot juice begins to show its age and inherent limitations. It’s not so much that cuts like “Maggot Infested” or “Haunting Future” are bad, but there’s only so much of this style one can take before it all starts to sound the same. It’s fair to say that whatever 3-5 cuts were randomly placed in front would fare best, as there’s a real fatigue factor in play when Jungle running. Luckily, A Call to Arms is a scant 33 minutes, which alleviates wear and tear and should allow the average knuckledragger to blast through the album before terminal mind rot sets in. It won’t be the most original 33 minutes you’ve heard, but it will jiggle your brain Jimmies plenty.

The thing that always strikes me when I hear Jungle Rot is how much Dave Matrise sounds like Sacred Reich’s Phil Rind. Sure, Dave’s bellow is meaner and more deathy, but the Rindness is ever-present and I’m forever expecting him to start screaming about the “American Way.” Chug meisters James Genenz and Geoff Bub shake their groove makers with fervor, injecting massive doses of beef and brawn in lieu of grey matter. They are masters of the bro-groove and they plow that field with admirable zeal. Some of their minimalist little flourishes are fun and stand out too. Their playing reminds me of Pro-Pain and long-forgotten 80s battle thrashers, At War, and that’s probably why I have a soft spot for their never-changing schtick.  It ain’t setting any trends or breaking new ground, but it’s better than disco and it will get you modest gainz on leg day, brah.

Twenty-five years in, it’s clear that Jungle Rot are the Sodom of death metal, but with much less evolutionary potential than their German brethren. I’ll admit to having low expectations coming into A Call to Arms, and what I got is a very predictable but mildly entertaining platter of caveman death splatter with a few standout moments. It’s not likely to convert many into Jungle Rot fiends, but by their own standards, the writing here is solid enough. I doubt I’ll be spinning this much in the unknowable future, but I didn’t hate being shellacked by these neanderthal tunes and I don’t feel significantly dumber now than I did going in. Small victories.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Unique Leader
Website: facebook.com/igotjunglerot
Releases Worldwide: May 13th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. My grandfather drove a chug-runner.
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