The advance press for Rodent Epoch’s debut album, which emphasizes “the filth and fury for which Finnish black metal has become renowned”, its “crude ‘n’ rude aesthetic”, and its “rockin’ thrust”, is accurate as far as it goes, but in my humble opinion those evocative phrases really don’t do Rodentlord justice. The music certainly reaches cathartic heights of punk-fueled snarling, savage lust, and devilish depravity, and there’s a blasphemous, fuck-the-world sensibility to the lyrics, but there’s a lot more going on here, too.
Of course, you won’t have to take my word for it, since what we’re bringing you today is a full stream of the album in advance of its October 12 premiere by Saturnal Records, but I’ll nevertheless attempt to explain why the album amounts to so much more than raucous deviancy and carnal lust.
Those afore-mention headlines for the album probably ring truest of the tracks that begin the album, which are feral, fiendishly infectious, and a headbanger’s delight.
The rumbling, rocking, blasting rhythms of “High on Hades”, and the boiling energy of the song’s vicious, blazing and razoring riffs make for a high-octane, powerfully head-moving opener. And it also gives you a first taste of the vocals, which are indeed nasty as hell — a mix of wild yells, caustic shrieks, and noxious barks (like the sound of a wolf being choked and fighting to get free so it can rip your throat out). When the riff changes (as they do in every one of the album’s tracks), you’ll also get a taste of the cold cruelty in Rodent Epoch‘s music, which is never far away but becomes even more pronounced in the album’s back half.
The follow-on track, “Rodent Lord”, opens with another vibrant, immediately catchy riff and a neck-snapping drum rhythm; segues into a macabre segment that twists and twirls like a goblin in flight; and then becomes both feverishly murderous and imposingly ominous and gloomy as the song transforms.
By now you’ll have figured out that Rodent Epoch are more than a one-trick devil steed, and the impression is reinforced by “Cult of the Mission”, which picks up the ominous mood created by the ending of the previous song and both amplifies the feeling of cold, cruel depravity and even sinks the mood of the music into a dirge-like trough of poison and pestilence before kicking into racing gear. When the band downshift again, the track becomes a growling juggernaut of destruction trailing strains of dismal, oppressive melody behind it like a toxic, choking exhaust.
To aid you in recovering from the way that “Cult of the Mission” ends, “Mayhem in the Courtyard of God” quickly moves into a bounding cadence accompanied by the rise and fall of fanfare-like chords. Menacing, malignant, and even borderline-majestic, the song eventually becomes more frenzied and assaulting.
The first four songs flow into each other seamlessly, so that the album moves along a twisted and turning path lined with thorns and harried by the slithering of serpents. You don’t really get a break in the flow until the long fifth track, “Red Heavens”, which stands alone, and reveals itself as a black magic symphony that’s the record’s centerpiece in more ways than its placement in the running order. Composed at first of anthemic heavy-metal riffing and sorcerous leads, the music smells of sulphur but there’s a mood of exaltation that comes through — and the emergence of eerie chiming notes over a prominent bass accompaniment really intensifies the arcane radiance of the music. The song swells in power, becoming like a glorious yet demented hymn of praise to a dark, demonic force.
The darkness in “Red Heaven” persists in the solemn yet lunatic movements of “Twisted Covenant”, which is shadowed in infernal gloom until it becomes a whirling dervish of unchained lust and savage ecstasy. And while the track returns to a more stately pace, it seems to foreshadow the nasty, hard-rocking momentum of “Nemesis Necro” (which is nevertheless vicious and punctuated with bursts of outright mayhem).
“Red Heavens” is a long song, but the closer, “Funeral Master”, is even longer. It’s also hard-rocking and demented, and climbs to planes of even higher intensity, becoming a wild, glorious romp with some of the most powerfully head-moving riffs and rhythms on the album. Yet the track is a varying piece, lurching with a homicidal mien one moment and taking flight the next, becoming a cyclone of tumultuous drumming and gales of flensing guitar savagery. The song ends with more than a minute left, but it’s not really over. However, I’ll leave the album’s one final component for you to discover.
The gutters explode on this album, the rodents have been freed, and Rodent Epoch piss on all the world’s finery and exhort the Necroseer to wake from his slumber. They long for your funeral, but as nasty and ferocious as these people may be in the guise of this band, their talents and ambitions plainly extend beyond such feral impulses and brazen arrogance. I’ve tried to explain why, but now just press Play and find out for yourselves.