Forty Winters – Rotting Empire


Artist

Album

Rotting Empire

Label

Dead Truth Recordings

Year

2016

Genre

For Fans Of

For The Fallen Dreams, Darkest Hour, The Acacia Strain

Summary

No clean singing allowed. Camo shorts and military cap optional.

Rating

70 / 100

On their second full-length album, ‘Rotting Empire’, Floridian wrecking crew Forty Winters serve up a healthy dose of mid-2000’s metalcore nostalgia. Released through Dead Truth Recordings, —a label the band shares with the criminally underrated, God-mocking Remembering Never — ‘Rotting Empire’ is a short and devoutly furious affair, that spends its 25-minute runtime espousing a vitriolic hatred of humankind across a mere eight tracks.

In checking through the group’s Bandcamp page and earlier releases like the 2013 ‘Isolation’ EP, their sound is described as “somewhere between Buried Alive, Cannibal Corpse, The Acacia Strain and Darkest Hour,” which isn’t too far off the mark. Instrumentally, the performances on ‘Rotting Empire’ are razor-sharp, and the production courtesy of Jesse Kirkbride (Black Tongue, Aversions Crown, Enterprise Earth) sounds fucking huge!

Jeff Stevenson’s guitars are crisp and well-nuanced, with catchy, neo-death metal riffs and influences ranging from Darkest Hour to The Black Dahlia Murder. Songs like ‘Empty Tombs’ and ‘Snuff Out The Light’ sport tasteful melodic flourishes, before dropping into quick, thrash-infused, full blown pit action and half-time percussive stomps. Drummer Scott Dotson hits the skins with a ‘take-no-prisoners’ attitude, as evidenced by the no-nonsense brutality of ‘Profit Hostage’, and the short-fuse ripper, ‘Human Sacrifice’. Both of these tracks keep the proceedings heavy, with eerie, foreboding guitar interplay acting as the calm before the mightiest of storms, waiting for waves of pummelling, staccato breakdown rhythms to wash over the unsuspecting listener.

Xavier Vicuna performs admirably as throat-piece for Forty Winters, with a strong, albeit predictable performance. Vicuna’s mid-range bark and occasional lows fall somewhere on a spectrum between Hand Of Mercy and the older For The Fallen Dreams material. However, the noticeable vocal layering borders on distraction, which at times takes the impact away from the lyrical messages and the steadfast delivery. Speaking of FTFD, said comparison falls into the apt and vaguely meta category, as Chag Ruhlig pops up for a quick guest spot on ‘Choke’. Likewise, Oceano man-monster Adam Warren lends his mighty roar to ‘Looming Serpent’, over one of the most earth-shatteringly superfluous breakdowns ever recorded by man. Emmure’s Frankie Palmeri is presumably rolling around on his UFO abduction table, or maybe in his one-man band, tour bus bunk. One can only imagine.

From raucous opener ‘Summoning Spirits’, to the double-kick send off on closer ‘Disease of Time’, what becomes immediately obvious is that Forty Winters are not in the business of needlessly panning to current trends. Auto-tuned clean vocal passages, regurgitated djent guitar riffs or inexplicable synth sections are completely absent from ‘Rotting Empire’. What’s left is this: layers upon layers of dense, metal riffage which pulls heavily from the melo-death playbook; frenetic blasts that detonate like cerebral jackhammers; a thick and chug-worthy rhythm section that’s partial to a sporadic breakdown or two; and vocals that sound telegraphed from very depths of Hell itself.

Conclusion

‘Rotting Empire’ is a fresh take on a familiar sound, once popularised over a decade ago by bands like Himsa, Walls of Jericho, August Burns Red and early Darkest Hour. If anything, this record sounds like something that easily could have featured on a Ferret Music or Trustkill Records sampler back in ’06. So if you’re after the next highly-fashionable, Rise-core ‘it’ band, it is probably best that you look elsewhere. Those equally ready to headbang and throw down may enthusiastically enquire within.

Tracklisting

  1. Summoning Spirits
  2. Choke
  3. Profit Hostage
  4. Empty Tombs
  5. Human Sacrifice
  6. Looming Serpent
  7. Snuff Out The Light
  8. Disease of Time

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