"War Zone"


01. Victims of Violence
02. Cut in Two
03. Savage Rite
04. They Gave Their Lives
05. Strong Shall Survive
06. Decapitated
07. Ready for War
08. Ambushed
09. Fight for Life
10. Territoriality
11. Killing Spree

RATING: 7.5/10

And so begins the old debate about the merits of sticking to the tried and true versus musical progression. What it really comes down to is that those bands that sucked to begin with and "stay the course" continue to suck for all eternity. Then you've got juggernauts like BOLT THROWER, OBITUARY, and JUNGLE ROT. The groove-based death metal style was beloved from the start and continued to be so on future albums. Such is the case with war mongers JUNGLE ROT on its sixth studio album, "War Zone". A few of the names have changed, but the attack remains true to form.

Though the slight hardcore bent that characterized 2004's "Fueled by Hate" is present, the new platter possesses a meaner edge and dirtier death metal covering, in some ways reminiscent of 2001's "Dead and Buried". Mainman, guitarist, and vocalist Dave Matrise once again convinces with his decipherable growl, punctuated to great effect by brief blood-curdling screams. And yes, the topics of war and battle carnage are the lyrical order of the day. What would you expect?

The death grooves at first blush appeal somewhat rudimentary. Then again, needless technicality has never defined the band. However, more thought has gone into the compositions than may be immediately apparent, and the delivery is skillfully tight. Whether it is well-placed bouts of kick drum pummel and rhythmic nuance, or the deceptively accomplished chords that pop up periodically, the boys understand their sound and refine it even further here. In fact, "Killing Spree" closes the album with one of the more dynamic arrangements I've heard from the quartet. Ominous chords and doom-laden picking are interrupted with rapid-fire bursts. "Victims of Violence" and the monstrous "Territoriality" are up-tempo and impossible to experience without succumbing to a little neck-snapping action. As always, several tunes stand out due to an immediately catchy quality, "Ready for War", "Cut in Two", and "Savage Rite" the three that come first to mind.

We need bands like JUNGLE ROT and the aforementioned heavyweights to keep reminding us that groove-based bludgeon is as important in death metal as technical savagery. "War Zone" is a fine example of the form.


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