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Rogga Johansson & Paul Speckmann: a match made in hell. The former an underground forger of Swedish death metal, through the outlets of his many projects such as Paganizer, Revolting, and Ribspreader; the latter a forger of the underground itself, pioneering the death metal sound through primordial acts such as Funeral Bitch, Abomination, Death Strike, and of course: Master.
The only thing new on this offering is in the form of a collision and collusion of these two distinguished figures. Speckmann’s snarl is immediately recognizable and unequivocally welcomed as the overlying complement of Johansson’s riffs, immediately discernible as Swedish in composition, production, tune, and in line with the solid d-beats and double bass of Brynjar Helgetun. Although, and unfortunately, the few shredding guitar solos take a back seat to the rhythm and are not nearly as pronounced as they should be in the production.
Variety is happily, or, depending on your perspective, unhappily barren. Aside from slightly mid-paced tunes like “Taste the Iron” or “Vile Stench and Decay,” all you get is straight-forward death metal. With some, as it is with me, such is all that is needed. Sheer originality can be supplied by other bands, not these guys; the proverbial mantra of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rings entirely true in this case and the aggression and anger is at the forefront, flowing from the vocal and guitar chords.
The lyrics, if not prescient, are undeniably conscious. Verses like “Agendas not even hidden, no one can stop them anyway…” can be interpreted as a description of the current U.S. administration under Obama with drone strikes devoid of due process, attacks on the fourth amendment through sly demagogy, and tapping of phone records and other ostensibly private forums. Or take this as an ultimate and abject description of global events: “Empires like graveyards, the abundance of war is taking its toll. The fires rage all over the world, nothing can ever quench them. A need to kill and conquer rooted deep in the soul, a need to herd the masses, into a world of doom.” Such lyrical content explores the enduring human condition and the situations unfolding and continuing all over the world in many places like Syria or North Korea.
Speckmann’s perspective is wrought with raw emotion and realistic to the point of pessimism, as can be heard on the spoken coda of Master’s 2012 album The New Elite: “…Escape? There is no escape from the tyranny of the U.S. government; so death will be the best solution for myself.” Call him what you will, but Paul Speckmann is not optimistic; nonetheless, in consequence, he is not unrealistic either and his pessimism allows for a description of the world that is more grounded in reality rather than sugar-coated by some form of mind-deluding soma. Even the track titles are blatant reflections of Speckmann’s mindset: “Everyone Rots,” “The World Is Set to Burn,” “The Stench of Mankind.” Each song is riddled with the grit of reality: past, present, and future.
Although the length is just under thirty-five minutes, sparing us from drawn out intros or unnecessary synthetic aesthete, (by all means such ingredients can be useful within the right context and circumstances) this is more than an hors d'oeuvre in anticipation of the upcoming Master album in September 2013 or whatever multitudes Rogga Johansson has cooking up, this is a heavy main course of Swedish death metal with a side of American growl. I welcome this offering, and await another, from such a match made in hell to fill my death-metal-craving, and so should you.
Published in Mane Stage: http://manestage.blogspot.com/2013/07/album-review-johansson-speckmann.html