Band: Coffin Rot
Album: A Monument to the Dead
Label: Blood Harvest Records
Genre: Death Metal
Country: United States of America
Release Date: October 18th, 2019
Coffin Rot are from somewhere I need to visit, especially from the growing list of bands local to the area, Portland, Oregon. Stumbling across their demo in 2018 before release was something worthy of note; strong Death Metal, mature song-writing skills, and superb musicianship from such a young act. The demo piqued my interest and became a frequently repeated yet far too short release. Coffin Rot is a four-piece made up of Derek Johnson on drums, Tre Guertner on guitars, Brandon Martinez-Woodall on bass, and Hayden Johnson on vocals. I’ve been dreaming of this full-length since the first art teases started popping up on Skaðvaldur’s page. I knew many of the songs from previous releases, so I knew I had to pre-order the tape and do a review.
From the very first riff until the last note dies out, this is one hell of a ride. On my initial play-through, I didn’t notice the album had restarted until near the end of the first song. I was so enthralled and lost in the sea of riffs, growls, and pounding that I lost all sense of time. The song structure is fairly traditional for the genre, without becoming predictable or stale, and every heavy-hitting riff feels like it carries a lot of weight and might behind it. This makes for very enjoyable songs with a high replay factor; I caught myself, many times head-banging to a song, and missing my turn while driving. It is also worth noting that the music aligns perfectly with its cover art; rotting, vile, and evil Death Metal is delivered as advertised with skill and reverence.
Brandon Martinez-Woodall is one half of the deep end helming the bass. His work is somewhat obscured in the torrent of riffs, but when given the exposure it shimmers like a viscera covered organ; slimy, sickly bass lines pulse from the abdomen, pushing out like a musical hernia in all its gross glory. Derek Johnson is the other side of the low-end coin with exquisite drumming that matches the intensity of the other band members or pushing the heaviness to new levels. When the songs grow slower Derek keeps it all flowing and interesting instead of growing stale like many who try to play with the varying speeds of Death Metal.
Tre Guertner handles the buzzing strings that stand forefront and drive the album. His playing is a mixture of fast flaying riffs, with dense, heavy lightning strike hits, and ferocious solos. Tre’s ability was one of the things that grabbed my attention from the early releases and his skill is only heightened on these versions of the songs. Hayden Johnson’s voice was another instant hook for me because of how much presence and command he has; words forming as if not crafted by sound but by flame, flickering and roaring in alternating measure. I often find it grating when I can “sing-along” to the chorus of a Death Metal song, but Hayden’s vocals invite it without becoming cheesily anthemic.
It is a risky endeavor in the best of times, pre-ordering an album, but when you do and you find you made an excellent decision it is like double-dipping on birthday presents. A Monument to the Dead is better than I could have possibly hoped for from this group; their meteoric rise in artistry alone would be noteworthy but when you combine that with their work ethic leading to this release, you have a juggernaut that should shake the foundation and bury lesser pretenders to the throne. Coffin Rot has made a huge mark on the scene with this release, and have nothing but promise ahead of them.
2. Saw Blade Suicide
3. Miasma of Barbarity
4. Forced Self-Consumption
6. Incubation of Madness
7. Mechanical Separation
8. Coffin Rot
Total Playing Time: 32:07