Tech Death Thursday: Madrost – Charring The Rotting Earth
We don’t get nearly enough thrash around here, so I’m doing my part to change that.
Madrost is a name I hadn’t heard since they set Lacertilian’s cloaca atwitter with “From Sand to Dust,” but seeing them pop up while compiling a recent Toilet Tuesday list got me excited. This is a band whose last release sat at the exact center point of flashy tech death, thrash, and regular death metal, combining all three genres into a gloriously nasty sound and generating some ripping tunes. Having revisited that album and going through their newest, Charring the Rotting Earth, I was reminded exactly of why our lizard friend was so excited in the first place.
The change in sound between Charring and 2017’s The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh isn’t nearly as drastic as the jump between the latter and their two earlier works, wherein they went from being a slightly above average death thrash band to dropping a technical thrashing masterpiece. Charring feels like a direct descendant of its predecessor and is built on much of the same principles, layering its weird, angular riffing with rich extended chords and charging it with electric lead guitar work. I’m a big fan of the dual vocal approach, one sporting a hardcore-tinged piercing shout and the other bearing a deeper death metal style growl; the two complement each other very well and bring a lot of texture and variety to a space often neglected in guitar-focused extreme metal. The total package is a sound that shares its DNA with the likes of Reprisal, Vektor, and Revocation; fans of any of those bands will want to jump on this immediately.
Where this album diverges most from its predecessor is its overall vibe, which feels darker and more aggressive than their 2017 record. It’s not a huge deviation, to be sure- Essence was already a pretty dark, angry record- but the slight changes are just enough to set it apart. The songs feel more concise and focused for one, and the more consistent drive both increases that aggression and helps the album flow. It’s mostly in the melody, though; continuing with the Revocation comparison, it’s a similar change from something like Existence is Futile to Chaos of Forms. The building blocks are all still there, but the tighter songwriting really brings out their edge.
The only part of this that I’m not entirely sold on yet is the addition of keyboards, performed by Sam Meador of Xanthochroid. This isn’t to say that they’re bad; in fact, from a purely compositional standpoint, they’re better realized than the overwhelming majority of synths used in tech death. My issue isn’t that they feel like they’re just window dressing, but rather that they feel a little at odds with the attitude of the album. For all their sci-fi imagery and weird melodies, the delivery feels largely down-to-earth, and the synths bring in this level of pomp and bombast that just doesn’t quite fit. The only song where they felt truly natural was the title track, where the break truly warrants the synths coming in to fill the space and drive the song forward. Again, though, they’re performed and written well, and it may just be a matter of needing to listen to the album more to get used to their presence.
All that aside, Charring the Rotting Earth is a fantastic album that once again shows you can write complex music that parties. It’s a fun listen that’s driven by the prowess of the musicians involved but not defined by it; it’s just as easy to take a cerebral approach and enjoy the excellent compositions as it is to shut off your brain completely and headbang to it. If that sounds like your jam (and why wouldn’t it be?), you can snag a copy of it from Bandcamp or over at No Life ‘Til Metal Records. Be sure to throw Madrost your likes on Facebook as well. That’s all I’ve got for you now, so until next time,