There aren’t many people on the planet more ‘death metal’ than Swedish veteran dm exponent Rogga Johansson. To say he’s probably forgotten more about a genre he’s actively contributed to for twenty-odd years than most of us would ever have wanted to have known, much less actually known, is an understatement I’m happy to take the wrap for. By my reckoning he’s added his name to over thirty bands and projects over time, in the process covering every last inch of the known death metal world. And here, now, in 2019, is our hero with his second ‘proper’ solo album, Entrance To The Otherwhere…
… Of course, it’s an abso-motherfucking-lutely brilliant outing. A dodsmetal tour de force in fact. Because Rogga instinctively understands death metal, he’s pretty much unable to make a stinker of a record; here, he allows his more melodic side to be vented at length – going so far as to include a beautifully Gothic piano interlude in the shape of Berget Vaknar which is as brilliant as it is surprising.
I’m talking melody in relative terms, obvs – there’s no melodic metal posing as death metal here. No, it’s melodic in the way death metal should be melodic, memorable guitar refrains ploughing through sludgy, mid-paced riffage and artillery-grade drumming, accompanied by Johansson’s sandpaper growl which manages to offer the listener access to the man’s lyrics whilst still bearing the sulphurous nature of something recently conjured from the very pits of hell. Or at least Luton.
Free from the need to concentrate on speed or uber-technical brutality, Rogga decides simply to crush the life out of your wheezing lungs via the doomy, funereal In The Grip of Garpedans. Here again a curiously childlike piano intersperses the agonising riffage, adding a nice off-kilter touch to the unforgiving dirge.
If you love the old Gods from the early nineties heyday of this kind of music, there’s a fair chance that communion with ETTO is going to make you go a bit funny in all the right places. And even if you favour a more modern take on the genre, I’d suggest you get an earful of this, just to remind yourself of what the real thing actually sounds like. A masterwork in almost every respect.
Entrance To The Otherwhere is out now.