On one side of the “bread n butter” death metal spectrum we have artists yearning for the glory of yesterday, struggling to stay relevant. On the other side, young whippersnappers with nostalgia in their eyes flap vainly for our attention with dated tropes. Somewhere in the middle, one man alone stands resolutely steadfast, relentlessly persistent in his quest to deliver a whiff of freshness to the old school death metal flavours.
Rogga Johansson is an absolute LEGEND of a death metal journeyman whose pedigree affords him few peers, yet most have never heard of him. My initial brush with him was in 2010 via his work with Kam Lee in The Grotesquery, leading down a rabbit hole of discovery through Bone Gnawer, Paganizer, Ribspreader and his recent work with Master frontman Paul Speckmann. Indeed, the man is a prolific riff monster; last year he recorded and released no less than ten albums under different pseudonyms, and incredibly none of them were particularly shit. This year he’s already contributed three albums and ten EPs, and it’s only fucking July!
Though singularly responsible for many projects under, “Entrance To The Otherwhere” is officially the debut solo album under his own name. This work is unmistakably Swedish in execution, evoking memories of early Entombed and Dismember, and in parts is reminiscent of the proggy melodeath of Edge Of Sanity and Hypocrisy. All instruments and vocals are performed to a high standard, with keyboards used sparingly to add atmospherics on tracks such as “Till Bergets Puls” and “As Evil Seeps Out”.
Rogga’s maintenance of consistency and relevance despite his copious output is somewhat unprecedented, giving even Dan Swano a run for his money. Though not an album that’s likely to light up journalists end of year lists, you can’t turn your nose up at such an impressive work ethic. In short, this album is likely the most fun anyone has had with a HM2 pedal in a long time, with plenty of melodic chug n’ groove to keep things fresh.