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I feel like a separate blog may be in order just to cover all of Rogga Johansson's many projects, since the man has almost single-handedly crafted a Swedish retro death metal scene (to be fair, he's had a lot of help from the right places). Fans of his newer projects like Revolting and Putrevore would do well to check out Ribspreader, one of his earlier efforts. They've released two full-lengths a few years ago; of these Congregating the Sick is the more recent and superior.
There is no surprise as to what you're going to find on the album: pure old school Swedish metal which benefits from a more modern, crushing production. Influenced by all the usual suspects (Dismember, Entombed, Grave, as well as early Death), Rogga and friends bludgeon through 9 tracks of consistent mayhem. Drums were provided by Johan Berglund (who also plays bass in one of Rogga's other bands Demiurg.), and some snappy leadwork is offered by Dan Swanö, who also recorded the album.
The album begins with one of its best tracks, "Autopsy Obsessed", a rush of primal grooving energy with a great flurry of leads over the first rhythm. "Morbid Reflections" is a little slower at first but picks up nicely. "Bleeding You Dry" is similar to the first two tracks with a mid-paced delivery packed with groove. "Breeding Sickness" is a little darker, with an evil bluesy intro riff that transforms into some very old school speed picking and carnal breakdowns. "Dead to the World" is a veritable feast of blazing early 90's Swedish death which would do any moshpit proud. "Maggots (Fucking Maggots)" may not be as great a hymn to the larval carrion feeders as that of the great GWAR, but it will suffice. Another of the album's best tracks is closer "The Crawling".
Your mileage with Congregating the Sick will vary based on your relative love of old school Swedish brutality, including many of Rogga's other works. The music isn't amazing but it's tight enough for an album trying to capture that lost magick so many death metal albums lack. The lyrics are pretty average, but unfortunately few death metal fans pay attention to such things. I consider this the better of Ribspreader's two full-lengths but some of Johansson's other work is a little better.
Alright, so some of you might've read the recent Atheist review I posted. Elements is an album to listen to stone sober, to absorb and listen to over and over (over a span of years) in order to totally absorb. It's a work that is both beautiful and hideous. Few albums will ever match it.
Ribspreader's second LP, Congregating the Sick, is an album that should be listened to over and over (over a span of a night) until you bang your head into either your computer screen, keyboard or the motherfucking stage so often that either your brain or computer doesn't work right anymore. Preferably both. You should listen to this album drunk.
And goddammit, I am drunk.
So you might say, "OSS, your judgement is impaired!" And I would say to you, "Where the fuck do you get off calling me OSS? That's Monsieur OlympicSharpshooter to you, bitch." And then we would fight, and after I had sated myself upon your bloody carcass, I would play Ribspreader, because this is the album one plays while sating oneself upon a carcass. In fact, if you were to replace "sating oneself on a carcass" with "losing tickets to an awesome post-hardcore show", it would still be absolutely incontrovertibly true..
I'm not sure how many of you remember when Bloodbath's debut came out, given that 2002 is now apparently a long time ago, but those who do will recall that it promised to be a brutal tribute to classic death metal. Now, that album is underrated around these parts because Akerfeldt sang on it, but it's not actually a bad record. The problem is, it's a modern brutal death album that uses classic lyrical themes in an ironic fashion and death metal fans don't like irony. At all. They would much prefer the bands they like to really get off on eating people and fucking corpses. Or at least, to pretend they do without a wink.
Ribspreader are the band you scowly fucks are looking for. They've clearly listened to as much Obituary and Autopsy as we have, and decided that, fuck it, that shit rules. So, here's album artwork that looks exactly like early Death, here's riffs that will challenge you only in the sense that you will try to balance the competing needs of drawing blood for Satan and being able to walk in the morning. Dan Swano is playing guitar. Forgive him for making good records outside of the standard death metal equation and remember that he is a man who knows death metal inside out. And ejaculate wildly in the sheer joy of hearing an album that is like Autopsy, played at full death metal tempo, with modern production to make it as heavy as you pretend old death metal actually was in order to more authentically piss all over Nile.
There are a few moments where you realize these guys are actually modern, creative minds; solos that go beyond Kerry King towards actual, honest to God atonal-ness, the God-less glory of feedback. It's almost Sonic Youth artsy for like two seconds, once. But that's enough. It tells you that they know what they're doing without having to be joke-y about it, and take you out of the moment. It's like those perfect mid-tempo moments of thrash that you wish would last forver, but lasting forever and with a variety thrash would've killed for.
"Maggots (Fucking Maggots)" is all you need to know about this record. The riffs, they are heavy. They are tastier than a rotted corpse on Christmas. The vocals are a gurgle o'ertop the riffs the riffs the riffs. They tell you something quasi-human is conducting this chorus. The drums are too busy playing the exact same pattern of every death metal album ever to surprise you, but they are emphatically wonderfully playing the same pattern of every death metal album ever with pure joy. But the joy is in necrophilia, coprophilia and Satan. Most of the pure death metal albums that were this good came out in 1988. This is an album that is even more fiendishly catchy. This is an album that is as good or better than they were, not from reaching more, but from doing much the same thing with the powers of modernity behind it. It's like... it's like... goddammit, I'm too drunk to know.
Early Bloodbath played this music for laughs. Later Bloodbath, with Tagtgren, played this music too modern. Ribspreader plays this music as if they've never heard of anything that came out after Severed Survival. And that is the way one must play tribute records. I'm drunk, I'm depressed and I will not like this album as much in the morning. But Ribspreader have done the right thing. They took out everything complicated about the last record, and now all that's left is Swedeath drinking Budweiser. Athiest's Elements is the apotheosis of artful death metal. This is the apotheosis of asinine, thoughtfless CLASSIC death metal. And I'm not editing this review ever.
Stand-Outs: Every fucking thing.