Jungle Rot

Fueled by Hate

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Proving one can sound original even while tapping into ancient musical genres, Chicago's Jungle Rot have found a way to grasp the exact moment of transition where speedy thrash metal gave way to slower, more intricate death metal (somewhere in the late 1980s). Evident in their excellent third album, 2004's Fueled by Hate, this heavy metal formula is fast, simple, catchy, and, unlike most new millennium metal -- immediate. In fact, it's this very immediacy which is likely to make two- to three- minute standouts like "Let Them Die" and "Gain Control" sound so refreshing to most metalheads' over-taxed ears. Built on chunky, groovy riffs and athletic but concise drumming, the above also benefit from Dave Matrise's throaty, but always distinct vocals -- rather like an intelligible version of Obituary's John Tardy. Additional highlights include opener "Face Down," which sounds like classic Unleashed (minus the Viking lyrics), and a string of wonderfully clutter-free numbers ("Fractured," "Gasping for Air," "Habit Fulfilled") owing a great debt to German legends Sodom. More importantly, besides fulfilling the most basic heavy metal need to unleash pent-up energy and aggression through music, Fueled by Hate also achieve the rarest of qualities for a heavy metal album; it's loads of fun.

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