Album review: Madrost – Charring The Rotting Earth

Charring The Rotting Earth is the fist-pounding pinnacle of Madrost’s powers, imbued with epic levels of drama and aggression

Technical thrash metal saw its glory days in the 80s and 90s with the rise of classic bands such as Coroner, Voivod, and Mekong Delta; acts that took the aggression of thrash and filtered it through the meticulous world of prog. It made for adrenaline-fuelled and highly interesting music that had a definite impact on the evolution of extreme music and how it was perceived. Over the past few years, new bands like Hexovoid, Revocation, and Vektor have grabbed the baton and run on their own steam, taking the sub-genre to new levels of both songwriting and fist-pumping metalness. 

Among this new wave of thrashers is California’s Madrost, who have added in extra dashes of death metal to the sonic stew and upped the aggro quotient to great effect. Their previous two albums, 2014’s Into The Aquatic Sector and 2017’s The Essence Of Time Matches No Flesh, have been hailed as critical cornerstones of modern tech-thrash; records that strove to progress the genre to new areas of bloodthirsty precision. With their new album, Charring The Rotting Earth, they’ve done it yet again. 

The most notable change to their sound on this new platter is more of a symphonic element, but it is neither cheesy nor does it detract from their chest-beating metal. The keys, when used, bring a higher level of epicness to their barrage, and it works seamlessly. And with the same line-up as their 2017 album, we find the band settling into their roles comfortably and with a confidence that breeds excitement. 

At just a few seconds shy of half an hour, Charring The Rotting Earth is almost a glorified EP, but such is their mind-twisting construction that the time doesn’t fly and you still get a full headbanging workout. Album-opener, “The Serpents Quest”, throws us immediately into the fray with a melancholy intro that quickly burns into blistering thrash – the riffs are intertwined and clever, and the drumming (throughout the record) is furious and sweaty. The final minute is also some of the most satisfying grindage in the band’s discography. 

Of the remaining six songs, all have their highlights and all have peaks and valleys of intricate interplay between the musicians. Tanner Poppitt once again proves that his voice was made for this band. Very much in the vein of Mille from Kreator but with added gusto, he pushes the music to the extreme and is on-point, and the added death growls from Richard Orellana are pure, filthy evil. Poppitt and Necro Nick are a classic guitar team that find and highlight each other’s strengths and give them new life, both in the riff and solo departments, and the mighty rhythm section of Orellana on bass and Mark Rivas behind the kit is relentless and lays a firm foundation. 

The real gem of the album is the title track that ends the proceedings. This is a prime example of Madrost, where they came from and where they’re headed. The riffs are chewy goodness that are propelled by the vicious drum work, and the epic level is high without being pompous or laced with wankery. It has atmosphere from the keys, choir, and strings in the mid-section that lead us into an almost Dimmu Borgir-esque climax that hastily evolves into a balls-out thrash-fest that will leave you breathless. 

Yup, Charring The Rotting Earth is modern tech-thrash at its finest and also Madrost’s most accomplished work thus far. Along with all the musical bits and pieces that have made them what they are, the new dramatic direction totally works within their boundaries and the guys have the chops to make it work. To coin a phrase, this is a half-hour of power that deserves not to be missed. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

FFO: Voivod, Coroner, Revocation

Charring The Rotting Earth is out September 25 via No Life Til Metal Records


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