“Mask of Malice”

By Derelikt Waugh

Once again, I find myself in a bit of a conundrum. Here is an extremely formulaic death metal band from Germany doing all the things that we’ve heard done on countless death metal albums many, many times before. I should tear it apart for the all-encompassing lack of originality, right? Well, the problem is this: I fucking love it. It’s not just slightly enjoyable. It’s stone-goddamn-solid from start to finish. “Mask of Malice” is a relentless teeth kicker that does everything right. Honestly, I hate to rave about something that’s this derivative, but there is absolutely nothing about this album that won’t have your average death metal fan foaming at the mouth and attempting to break their necks in a furious fit of head banging.

 Lay Down Rotten aren’t really new to the game, and that’s quite apparent here. They’ve been sharpening their metallic fangs since 2000, with various members coming and going (as is the norm in this genre). Perhaps the new blood has given them a shot in the arm? I can’t rightly judge, since I’m not familiar with their previous efforts. What I can tell you is this: “Mask of Malice” fucking delivers the grizzly goods. It’s got fast and intricate drumming, gnarly Swedish riffs, vocals that can level a city block and sharp, melodic leads that provide the essential hooks that keep you coming back for more. In short, Lay Down Rotten stays safely inside the box…but anyone in the box with them should be prepared to get leveled by their sheer ferocity.