If the (often fractious) community of metal were a nation, Rogga Johansson would be rightly regarded as a national treasure. The Bard of Gamleby has left his mark through a host of bands and personal projects extending back into the golden ’90s, too numerous to count even if you used all your fingers and toes. Attempting to group all of them under the unitary banner of “Swedish death metal” is tempting (because he is Swedish and does mainly indulge in death metal), but the permutations in sound and style can evade the genre characterizations that usually spring to mind when seeing that label.
Of all the many endeavors to which his name has been attached, only one actually bears his name, and now Rogga Johansson (the band) has a new album on the horizon. Entitled Entrance to the Otherwhere, it will be released on July 19th by Transcending Obscurity Records. We had the pleasure of premiering a song from the first Rogga Johnasson album, 2017’s Garpedans (which was conceptually connected to the last Demiurg album), and now we have the opportunity to premiere a song from the new one. But before we get to it, how ’bout that fucking cover art?!?
The artwork, rendered unmistakably by Mariusz Lewandowski, is glorious, and as memorable as it is immediately eye-catching. Transcending Obscurity has made full use of its attractions in the variety of physical editions that have been readied for this release, but the music itself is equally attractive — and memorable.
Which brings us to the song you’re about to hear, a track named “As Evil Seeps Out“. It is death metal, and it is from Sweden, but it is hardly paint-by-numbers “Swedish death metal”. It’s a hard-charging song, but not immediately. At first, it sounds like a foreboding fanfare, with martial drums and something like the sound of ominous horns. When it does get going, the music is full of rocking grooves (thanks to a typically spot-on performance by Rogga‘s frequent percussive ally Brynjar Helgetun) and an array of cruel, fast-twitching riffs laced with other accents — chief among those is a dismal, slithering melodic lead that gets stuck ever more deeply in the head as it recurs.
Perhaps unexpectedly, that little melody might be the song’s most insidiously memorable feature, but certainly not the only factor that will draw most listeners back to “As Evil Seeps Out”. Rogga’s extravagant growls always make a strong impression, and in addition to the infectious qualities of the evil riffs, you’ll encounter a pulsing bass lead that provides a bridge to a riot of jolting chords and feverish fretwork that itself becomes something you wait for eagerly on subsequent trips through the song.
As mentioned above, Transcending Obscurity has some beautiful physical packages lined up for the release, which you can explore through the pre-order link below. Also below, you’ll find streams of two previously released songs, “The Re-Emergers” and “A Journey Into Fear”, that are also well worth your time. The label recommends Entitled Entrance to the Otherwhere for fans of Edge of Sanity, early Amorphis, early Hypocrisy, Unanimated, early Tiamat, Unleashed, Entombed, and Paganizer.
1. The Re-Emergers
2. Till Bergets Puls
3. When the Otherwhere Opens
4. Giants Walking at Night
5. As Evil Seeps Out
6. Berget Vaknar
7. Entrance to the Otherwhere
8. A Journey into Fear
9. In the Grip of Garpedans