To Make Rotten was initially released in 1991 by the band Sepsis and only seventy handmade copies existed at the time. La Caverna records have re-released this record twenty eight years of its initial release. While many expect another band that is rediscovered uniquely for existing at the right time and having a certain “spirit”. Sepsis put these claims to rest with a good demo that shows untapped potential.
Death metal demos unlike more developed recordings tend to show one of two mentalities. The first being the uninhibited desire to express themselves freely without much thought towards discipline in regards to arrangements, timekeeping or consistency. The second being a converging point for a set of influences as perceived by the artists. Sepsis somehow manage to do both, proudly displaying their influences on their sleeve and also allowing themselves complete freedom in forcing everything together.
Stylistically this can be summarized as being a combination of Floridian Death metal and Grindcore. The band show elements of Death, Obituary, Deicide and Carcass with occasional hints of conventional melody in the European style. Riff shapes are typically in the style of one of their influences with “It”s Too Late” being an obvious hommage to the legendary Carcass riff. While these riffs show nothing original, they are very good at taking a small set of different motifs and applying to them to the different riff styles present here. This injects new life into these familiar riffs while retaining part of what made them so great in the first place.
Arrangements are the demo’s area of weakness as the band know how to take a motif and use it in different riff types but struggle to fully expand and then deconstruct as the music relies on a small number of motifs that remain the same despite the different riff forms. It is at times rather boring when a melody is strummed only for it to return later in the song in the exact same way but stretched out in length. Overall the band struggle with a combination of the fast/slow duality in Grindcore and the labyrinthine riff mazes that had fully matured in Death Metal at that point. The band make up for it with sheer heart and tenacity as they manage to keep the momentum going no matter as best seen on “Winter of Despair” which shows a lot of bizarre choices in the structure held together by the band’s eagerness.
Sepsis offer a rich tapestry of ideas that converge many of the different compositional methods into a potent whole that easily shrugs off its weaknesses. While this would be the end of the band, one can’t help wonder if the band could have evolved into something greater. A true hidden gem, To Make Rotten is not a forgotten classic but nonetheless a great listen for those yearning for the freedom and variety that once existed in Death metal.