RogashFormed in 2009 in the far reaches of Jena, Eastern Germany, Rogash are a five piece band who deliver a crushing style of death metal which seems to bridge the gap between the American and Scandinavian styles of playing this highly diverse and intense genre. Becoming somewhat of a sensation in the German underground scene, the band managed to break through and gain notice with their EP and then their first full length album. With some serious skills and some fantastic artwork accompanying them on this release, created by the mastermind behind other notable death metal artworks; Roberto Toderico (Asphyx and Pestilence are some of the bands he has worked for), Rogash look set to push far beyond what their first album laid out. Prepare for something truly evil.

With a sample heavy introductory track, aptly named “Intro” it sets the scene. It’s epic and intense with its delivery but as I have said many a time in analysis of albums, these tracks are far more suited being attached directly to a song (unless it is a concept album where it is essential for progression). None the less, it gives that feeling something massive is lurking out there, waiting to strike and the sudden cutting out really amps up the anticipation and rightly so. “To The End” explodes to life, smashing into you like a sledgehammer. Tight rhythm section work, buzzing guitars reminiscent of At The Gates but with the heaviness and power of Cannibal Corpse. Raw guttural vocals, tremendous groove and full on aggression runs wild and doesn’t stop for anything, even when it slows slightly for some slam styled riffs or melodic leadwork, it keeps smashing into you and refuses to relent.

“Daily Hate” keeps up the intensity and it is truly terrifying with just how crushing it is. With some brutal sounding grooves reminiscent of Kataklysm, it has a real meaty sound and once more, the tightness of the bass and drums is incredible as they lay the groundwork for the guitars to run wild. Vocally powerful with a delivery laced with the intent to kill, it just doesn’t let up and two songs in already, you know this has all the makings of a special album.

The rest of the album keeps with this pattern. Explosive starts, ripe with blastbeats and rapid guitar riffery over thunderous bass and those incredibly powerful vocals keep the familiarity feel but sound fresh on every track. The utilisation of the groove aspect of Death Metal is sublime too – the groove laden verses, whether they be similar to slam or just headbang worthy on “Fortunes Fangs” and “Dreams And The Flesh” are a key element of the intensity Rogash bring and to keep it up for the entire album is impressive. Even the slightly thrashy sections in “Dreams And The Flesh” and some of the more black metal friendly melodic riffs in “Nightmare” which is an unrelenting maelstrom of intensity with its all out delivery don’t derail the flow of this release. Everything goes how it should and everything sounds in place.

Closing off the album, “Rogan Deathtrip” is a brilliant summary of the album – an atmospheric start with an unsettling undertone explodes into that thrashy feel start which in the live setting would instantly signal the start of all hell breaking loose in the pit and the rawness and venom in the punishing delivery, switching from fast as fuck to slam and headbang grooves with minimal fuss just caps off a wonderful album. For those who have access to it, there is one final treat – the bonus track which is a cover of a Sepultura classic: “Refuse Resist”. It doesn’t detract too much from the original but the low end really shines through on this one and the blast-friendly drums and death metal intensity brings out a new side to this track. Keeping it close to the pace of the original, adding a little more low end and ferocity, Rogash really impress with this, but personally I would have preferred a cover of “Arise” which just seems to suit their style better.

Overall, this is intense. Back in January, Aborted set the bench mark for Death Metal this year with their Termination Redux ep and Rogash have replied in tremendous style, bringing intensity, technique, ferocity and heaviness to the table and replying with style. This is essential Death Metal listening for 2016.

(8/10 Fraggle)