Lay Down Rotten – Mask Of Malice


Review by Jason Guest

Formed in 1999 as a solo project by recently departed guitarist/vocalist Daniel Jakobi, Germany’s Lay Down Rotten may not have pushed any boundaries in that time, but since day one what they have delivered has been death metal of exceptional quality. And Mask Of Malice isn’t about to change that fact. ‘Death Chain’ through to the title track – with their massive riffs, mammoth drums, monstrous death grunts, and some twisted lead work – prove a colossal start to the album. But this is the point where albums with such an impressive beginning usually start to crumble, the quality of the tracks that remain vary between killer, filler, and the appalling. But not Mask of Malice. The album gets darker, somehow heavier, with the sprawling, mid-tempo might of ‘…And Out Come The Wolves’ bringing a new level of intensity to proceedings. And ‘The Devil Grins’ is easily the best track here, a malevolent, aggressive, and even melodic slab of death metal venom.

The production has a modern sound to it with elements of metalcore, particularly in the drums and guitars, but they’ve saved us from yet another style-over-substance metalcore album by sticking to the tropes of the death metal genre and integrating only what they have deemed effective for getting their point across. There are a few melodeath moments here, mainly in the lead work, but they’ve thankfully steered clear of producing a work akin to the likes of In Flames et al and put themsleves at risk of being dismissed as bandwagon jumpers.With head held high, Lay Down Rotten pound through Mask of Malice safe in the knowledge that what they are delivering is punishingly consistent with enough diversity across the tracks to make this a killer slab of death metal nastiness. It may fall short in terms of originality and not provide anything that could be considered ground-breaking or challenging, but Mask of Malice is a solid modern death metal album worth checking out.

7 out of 10

Click here to read Jason’s interview with Lay Down Rotten’s vocalist, Jost Kleinert

Track Listing:

  1. Death Chain
  2. A Darker Shade Of Hatred
  3. Nightfall
  4. Mask Of Malice
  5. …And Out Come The Wolves
  6. Swallow The Bitterness
  7. Hades Resurrected
  8. The Devil Grins
  9. La Serpenta Canta
  10. The Loss