Looking at my calendar whilst putting my finishing touches on this review, it’s one day after the official release date of Jungle Rot‘s latest record Order Shall Prevail and the digital presses have ceased for the day. Some slight lateness matters little; the album’s been up for streaming, and those interested have doubtlessly heard it already and those uninterested have continued not to care one iota about its existence. Jungle Rot produces a specific type of music that caters solely to their established audience, and Order Shall Prevail doesn’t mess with the formula. This leads me to believe that before even reading what I’m about to write here you’ve made up your mind about whether or not the new Jungle Rot is worth your time or money, and whichever side of the fence you err on, you’re probably correct.
We’ll often see Jungle Rot described as “meat n’ potatoes death metal” throughout the metalverse, and while this description isn’t necessarily wrong, it misses the bigger picture. What Jungle Rot does more noticeably on their later releases is make death metal that on the surface still sounds indebted to Obituary and Bolt Thrower, but structurally and compositionally is a lot closer to New York hardcore a la Madball and NYHC disciples Hatebreed. This is due to their “maximum violence” approach that relies on attempting to produce a physical reaction in the listener by the use of pounding hardcore influenced rhythms, nearly constant chugging, jarring tempo shifts, and beatdown styled breaks in what are generally catchy and relatively concise songs. A closer examination of their riffs show a major debt to the NYHC scene as well, but the best latter day Rot songs walk a tightrope between the two styles and produce some pretty kinetic material that gets the blood pumping nicely.
The entire value of Jungle Rot lies in the fact that they are, at heart, simple entertainment that doesn’t challenge the listener nor demand close attention and analysis, but is fun to play loud and headbang along to. It definitely has its value, much in the same way a no-brainer action flick hits the spot sometimes; every now and again, we all just want to see some shit get blown up. “Doomsday” opens Order Shall Prevail with exactly what you’d expect, culminating in a beatdown that’s essentially a better version of the one in Kill on Command’s “Blood Ties.” Max Cavalera showing up to lend his vocals to “Fight Where You Stand” was a nice touch, and Jungle Rot accommodates him with some riffing comparative to Cavalera Conspiracy, which ends up pretty entertaining with the co-conspiring Cavalera’s vicious and quick phrasing being a treat to hear. The title track sees the best merger of their meathead death metal and NYHC leanings, and not coincidentally is the record’s finest showing with a pummeling and well executed earworm of a staccato riff being particularly enjoyable.
What prevents Order Shall Prevail and Jungle Rot on a whole from being great is that their sound is consistent in aesthetics but not in quality, and in turn doesn’t tend to hold up well over the course of a full album. Taken piecemeal, there’s nothing really that bad on Order Shall Prevail; taken as intended in the form of a full record yields the inescapable feeling that they sort of lost the plot about halfway through. Whether it’s the pendulum swinging too close to pure NYHC for comfort on “The Dread Pestilence,” the overuse of an unremarkable riff and variations of it on “I Cast the First Stone,” or “E.F.K.” sounding like a middling outtake scraped off of Max Cavalera’s cutting room floor in the mid-aughts, the record is front-loaded and it shows. “Nuclear Supremacy” inexplicably decides to emulate Obituary at their most nondescript, and the only real moment of sheer headbanging and blood-pumping glee in the second half is the midsection pummeling in “Trench Tactics,” but you’ll have to get through some uninspiring thrash-ish NYHC riffs to hear it.
So there you have it, another Jungle Rot album that, chances are, turned out exactly as you’d have expected it to. Fans can be contented, as this is essentially business as usual, and the choice cuts will go over like gangbusters live. The production is clean, chunky, and nearly identical to the last two records, although Joey Muha’s kick drum sounds less obnoxious and overall better than ex-drummer Jesse Beahler’s did. There’s somewhere around a half album’s worth of pretty damn good stuff to add to your Jungle Rot/aggro/gym playlist if you’re so inclined, but on a whole Order Shall Prevail definitely has filler problems that cannot be overlooked. Neither entirely disagreeable nor terribly exciting, overall mediocrity shall, and did, prevail.