Rodent epoch rose from the ashes of "From The North," a band that was active from 2002 to 2008 and made two demos during that time (and I've heard neither of 'em). This is the first demo released under the group's new name, although two of EOR's songs were also present on From The North's last demo - as different versions, of course. The quartet is currently working on materializing their debut full-length.

It's clear that the demo was neither composed nor recorded quickly. The first song opens with a brief atmospheric synth-bit, after which the band pretty much sums their whole essence into four minutes. A fast and slightly thrashy opening leads the song into a more mid-paced and slightly rocking phase, which keeps morphing and changing around it's core pulse for the song's length. The following three-minute song "WORSHIP" explores the same formula in a bit different way, mixing in more heaviness and subtle death metal-nuances.

The nine-minute third song is the demo's main one, obviously. It starts with almost exactly the same monotonal synth-intro as the first and fourth tracks for some unfathomable reason, but otherwise the song leaves no room for complaints. It builds up and evolves really naturally, until reaching it's even sludge-y mid-part of long, distorted notes. The song "Gallery..." ends the demo with powerful and thrashy blasting, and despite easily more than ten listens, I'm craving for more.

The clear but still highly organic and even surprisingly vivid soundscape allows each of the instruments (although the rumbling bass wouldn't have hurted from a bit more clarity) to reveal what they've got, and the overall soundscape sounds only like the band's own - not usual for a demo-band. The sound is not too harsh and cold, which allows the band to explore their songs' heaviest and fastest moments to their fullest without fearing that the end result would be a mess.

One more thing to mention is the vocalist's range and the amount of feeling he's capable of delivering; from snarls and hoarse growls to shouts and clean chants, the songs are all the time topped with a vocal style that suits them the best. Along with the raw but detailed soundscape, the vocalist's versatile voice is one of the band's clearest strong points on the demo, and does wonders for the songs' atmosphere.

The demo has an impudently minimal design that I found to work well - especially since my copy was smeared with blood. Maybe it's just me, but I found the blood to enhance the visual side's effect. All the necessary infos are included, aside of the lyrics. It's a shame, especially since they're really good. Their style ranges from preachy tones to ritual mantras and story-like descriptions of death and its glorification, plague, dedication and anti-human thoughts. The track titles give a good hint about their respective lyrical content, but they're mostly open for each one's own interpretations.

The band doesn't take you by the hair and throw you around until you're ready to submit, but moreso deliver their aggression in a less in-your-face manner. The songs seem to have been crafted with care and effort and a lot of thought has gone to the demo's whole. I'm sure the band is capable of imbuing more wrath and overwhelming darkness into their songs, but with this much originality and dedication they're onto a good start. I'll be waiting to hear Rodent Epoch's debut album.

4 / 5