Death metal. That is all.
Despite being a new band to this scribe, Mask of Malice is the sixth full length album to be released by Teutonic noise merchants Lay Down Rotten since their inception in 1999. And unlike many releases that land on MetalasFuck's desk nowadays, it's very easily categorised as death metal. Simple as that. If you like death metal, you'll probably like this. The end.
Embellishing slightly, Lay Down Rotten is a slightly more accessible brand of death metal than scene stalwarts Cannibal Corpse, choosing not to go down the brutal heaviness, savage song title route and erring more towards the melodic riffery of Amon Amarth and the like. There's even a carbon copy of the intro to Slipknot's (sic) with A Darker Side of Hatred, which, now mentioned, may anger some die hard death metallers.
Aside from the slightly camp vocal intro to first track Death Chain by terrifying frontman Jost Kleinart, Mask of Malice is a rock solid death metal album. There's plenty of standing still, fists clenched heaviness, plenty of solid riffs, a smattering of solos, furious head banging material (particularly in Swallow the Bitterness); it's difficult not to like it.
However, it's also very difficult to get too excited about. It's great when a band has such a defined identity and has such an archetypal sound but with Mask of Malice, it's all just a wee bit samey. Despite being done well, it's still been done a thousand times over.
Mask of Malice is out now on Metal Blade