I went on an expedition in search of more genre blending anomalies, took a right turn in Northern Europe and ended up back in Scandinavia in a death metal mood. I like to think of it as riff therapy. Want to guess which country?
Oh I can't help myself! Have some Swedish death metal. According to Rogga Johansson's bandcamp page:
"New album from Swedish metal juggernaut ROGGA JOHANSSON, originally created after the release of the DEMIURG's latest album Slakthus Gamleby as possible follow up album. Garpedans is lyrically and conceptually based into the folklore of Gamleby, and the main character is the giant Garpe, as well as the mountain he became.
Like as DEMIURG the sound of Garpedans is grounded in crunchy riffs enveloped with progressive and doomy/melodic parts. don't expect nothing than less 40-minutes of old-school swedish death metal crushing experience."
"Garpedans" by Rogga Johansson, released April 24 of this year via Chaos Records
Let's talk about some riffs. Shall we?
This album is the perfect example of a point I was discussing recently with someone who asked why I prefer European death metal over the American product. I don't want to short change my countrymen because there is some good stuff out there, but the American death metal sound is, to my ear, basically punk version 2.0. I was never much of a punk fan. I never get the punk vibe from European death metal. It just sounds....well......bigger.
Sometimes size does matter.
Track 1) "At Mountain Garpe" It opens with a doomy riff, a herald of what is to come, then explodes into melodic fury. This is without a doubt, more than just blast beats and evil lyrics. That description I quoted above is pretty damned accurate.
Track 2) "A Seal Has Been Broken" This makes my headbanger riff addiction happy. It keeps you hooked with that glorious melody in which the Swedes are so good at never losing.
Track 3) "The Thrower of Boulders" One of my favorite songs on the album. Here lies epic crunchy riff goodness. Trust me when I say it will have you showing off your air guitar skills rather quickly.
Track 4) "Under Unknow Skies" You should experience this one through a good set of ear buds. It swirls around you like the sounds of a thunderstorm with driving guitars and drums reminiscent of that first cracking sound you hear when lightning strikes and thunder rolls across the sky.
Track 5) "Turned into Stone (But Not Forgotten)" What really jumped out at me on this particular one is how well the vocals stand up with the instrumentals. I mean, sure, production and all, but Johansson has one hell of a knack for achieving the death metal growl. Both vocals and instrumentals are immensely powerful in their own right. Do you remember that scene in the movie "Back to the Future" where Marty picks up the guitar and strums one power chord only to be picked up and thrown backward from the giant speaker in front of him? I would liken the power of track 5 to that scene.
Track 6) "Garpedans" My favorite guitar work is on this, the title track. It's also the name of the mountain that Garpe, the giant from Gamleby folklore, became. You can file this one under "songs that will make you drive too fast". The melody is such that you might catch yourself singing the guitar lines. Admit it, you sing guitar lines too.......
Track 7) "Where it Feasts" That badass death metal scream...I do so very much love that....ok, sorry, gotta focus. The opening bass chords will shake you to the insides of your shoes and back. It creates a tangible sense of dread that follows you from beginning to end.
Track 8) "A Tool of Great Pain" Another immensely powerful piece of music to be experienced through those ear buds. Great riffs, killer growl, and badass drum work....seriously, the drum work left me feeling like I had just had a hell of a work out.
Track 9) "Mordbrand" Unyielding melodic brutality. That is how I would summarize the last song on the album. It knocks you on your ass from the very first note to the last.
There's a fiery energy that mercilessly weaves its way throughout this album. It makes me feel like I'm being dragged by some unseen force through long hallways with dirty orange and black clouding my vision, knee deep in a cyanotic sense of dread, but it isn't frightening. If anything, it makes you want to stand up and beat your chest while screaming in exhiliration. Sometimes angry music can make you feel very much alive.
Rogga Johansson is the kind of musician that produces exceptional work, no matter what the project. This album is badass sounds from beginning to end. Expect to catch yourself doing everything from singing guitar riffs to air drumming and....oh yeah....driving fast. On the flip side, the sound he has created is so powerful and surrounds you in such a way that it's also a great album to pipe through your brain and internally rage the day's frustration away. Remember, I did mention riff therapy earlier.
By the way, have a link....
You'll thank me.