EP Review: Left To Rot - Breath of the Tomb
Reviewed by Sam Jones
Other than debut full lengths, I also like experiencing debut EPs and in this instance, that’s what Left To Rot have for us this day. Formed in 2021 out of Texas, United States, where so many illustrious names have been originating from lately, Left To Rot are a death metal act who have since released their first Demo in the same year, and unleashed a Single in 2022. Now, primed for an October 6th release date and via independent means too, Left To Rot are set to provide us with the first real dish of what we may come to expect from the band in the possible future. Applying quality artwork that drew me to this EP in the first place, from artist Matt Stikker, whose work had covered Blazon Rite, Outer Heaven and Witch Vomit, it immediately paints a picture of what vibe we may get out of these guys. So, let’s check this EP out because I for one was definitely curious.
I like how, in spite of this EP’s short runtime, the band still went out of their way to include an atmospheric introduction that eases their audience into their work. Other than a Single and Demo, this is Left To Rot’s first considerable release that potential fans have to experience so it makes sense that this EP would want to make an impact right out of the gate. Utilising ambient elements to make it feel like we’re slowly unearthing the cover to this EP, the band soon open up more formally through their title track that demonstrates a thick guitar tone and guttural vocals yet, showcasing an adherence for a more old school side of things, the band keep their pacing pretty steady and don’t aspire for the fastest tempo out there. Old school death metal is in real abundance right now but it’s nicely refreshing to discover a new band that aren’t seeking to be speed demons right out of the gate. That much may become discovered in time but for now at least, the band are quite at home with mid-tempo playing that enables their audience to stick with them.
That said though, while the band certainly harness a bold and prominent guitar sound they haven’t applied so much crushing tone to the songwriting that it’s impact becomes too heavily distorted. We can feel the weight this band provide and it feels like just the right amount of power, since any extra would overweigh this EP on one side or the other too greatly; the riffs are thick enough to grab our attention yet there’s a peculiar clarity rendered to their resonance that lets us see just a few seconds into the future. The band don’t leave us entirely in the dark and the EP does benefit from that: they give us just enough foresight to hazard a guess whereabouts we may be heading, and the fact that the riffs and soloing has this keen outlining around it makes a vast difference. The riffs come across as if they’re homing in on us, and since the tone is balanced just right, they land with a meteoric impact. It’s good to know the band don’t just lean on some cavernous aesthetic to see them through, and invest in legitimate efforts to see us engaged with their songwriting.
But the vocals especially drew me in the most I believe. Much like the songwriting, the vocals are geared towards providing that retro death metal sensibility, but while many bands right now jettison lyrics rapidly, or with a fierce malice, Left To Rot wind back the pace of their vocal delivery a touch to really let that atmosphere settle in and as a result we’ve received a vocal presence that’s more akin to Deicide’s own Glen Benton than Corpsegrinder or Jeff Becerra. Not only does it help us latch onto the band’s performance a little more knowing they’re moving alongside us, but it also gives the EP the room needed to breathe, to give each track included herein the presence that a short runtime would ideally want them to possess. The slowed pace by which the vocals are uttered gives greater prominence to various songwriting segments and ensures audiences will experience these moments with greater reception than if the songwriting was completely committed to speed. If this is what the band can do with an EP, I’m excited to see what they may pull off with double the time.
In conclusion, Left To Rot’s first EP is a roaring success as far as I’m concerned, seeing how the band managed to rope me into their songwriting and vibe with complete ease. I felt like I could have listened to another four or so tracks and just made this an album listening for while it may just be an EP, the band brought a performance on record that screams professionalism, and an effort towards their songwriting that you don’t find in such a new band. Their unique, slower take towards tempo and vocals within songwriting makes this a compelling and intoxicating listen for, from start to finish, the band have us within their grasp and other than an atmospheric introduction this immersion is achieved through nothing more than the means before each members’ capabilities. Alongside acts such as Inhuman Condition, Skeletal Remains etc, Left To Rot are already joining a very exclusive club of pure death metal fanatics that keep things to the core and to the point. Left To Rot need to record a full album.