Rogga Johansson…you heard of him? Well you blinking well should have! He is probably one of the most underrated multi-musicians within the death metal scene and deserves each and every one of yours respect. This giant of a man is in more bands than you have had hot dinners and has been playing Swedish death metal the old way for almost twenty years now. Rogga’s main bands are Paganizer and Ribspreader (brilliant band name), however, you will find him playing with other underrated stars of the death metal genre, such as Paul Speckman, as well as mega stars like Kam Lee of Massacre fame.
Rogga has also in his discography been the main songwriter, guitarist and vocalist for another fifteen bands or so in his career. It seems like a month without a CD release from Rogga is a rarity in the last few years, and this time it’s one of his main bands Paganizer with Land of Weeping Souls. So has Rogga changed his formula and released Paganizer material that will alienate his fans?
The answer is quite simply no! Rogga continues to release music solely devoted to the SweDeath metal scene as if it was still 1990. It’s also good to see bands like Entrails and Evocation recently coming back and remembering the old days also. Rogga, meanwhile, continues to release music from the black heart that pumps death metal through his veins. Respect to you, sir, for sticking to your guns!
This album is released through Asian label Transcending Obscurity Records and is one of around thirty releases so far under the Paganizer roster, so you should know what to expect. As soon as opener “Your Suffering is Legendary” begins, you realise that this is Paganizer through and through but you can already tell the professionalism in this recording has gone up a notch since their EPs last year. This may also be due to the sound of the album being recorded at the Rotpit Studios by Par Frannsson because the sound is just perfect for capturing the true essence of Swedish death metal. What is also abundantly clear is the talent of the other musicians who have contributed to this record and the fact that there has been a steady line up for a while. This all adds to this beast of a record.
“Dehumanized” follows next and it’s pure Grave/Entombed and Dismember worship of the highest order. The songs are structured so well together and it’s difficult to listen to the whole album because you want to hear the same song repeatedly. That’s how good this album has kicked off and it follows with “Forlorn Dreams”, which is Bloodbath through and through with swirling riffs, deep growls and excellent double bass drumming from Rogga’s long time comrade Matthias. My head keeps swirling in tandem with these riffs as they are so catchy, groovy and heavy that my neck snapped.
Title track “Land of Weeping Souls” has a mixture of everything that we all love about SweDeath. Blast beats start this song and it’s sure to get any pit started in the live environment. The riffs that this band continues to create and blend together to make music of this calibre are astonishing and fresh to a scene that the mainstream consider dead. This once again is how Swedish death metal used to be and how the grandfathers of the scene have forgotten how to play it.
This record just keeps getting better, as next track “The Insanity Never Stops” has completely everything you want in a death metal song. We even get an air raid siren mixed with one of the best riffs of the whole album. Kjetil shreds some very intricate leads which compliments every track, but this one especially.
The next song that catches my attention is “Death Addicts Posthumous” with Rogga spitting venom and having a voice that is perfect for death metal. He has the growl but you can almost decipher the words which is different to the usual death metal fodder. Numerous blast beat episodes and riffs that are simple but constructed in a way that everything once again just fits.
It’s so important for a band to have an end song that will make the listener want to have to press the repeat button and listen to the album again and this is what we have here with “Prey to Death”. This is homage to the Death man coming to get you and take your soul but I also think it’s homage to death metal the way it was meant to be played. Sweden have long been the true kings when it comes to death metal and although Paganizer don’t bring anything new to the table, they know how to compose a spectacular tune and that’s what we have here.
Paganizer is not just Rogga creating and doing everything in this record. Rogga has seasoned professionals in his band who ply their trade in other bands (recent example being Echelon), and when they get back together, they use their experience of these ventures and focus everything on making Paganizer the best they can. On this output, I would say that this is Paganizer’s best record yet as everything just fits perfectly.
Nothing technical, nothing original, nothing ground breaking… just good old Swedish death metal like the masters forgot how to play it.
To summarise, if you love your old school Swedish death metal Grave/Bloodbath/Vomitory sounding, you will love this. I don’t understand why Rogga and Paganizer aren’t getting the recognition that they deserve. Then again, Paganizer may want to remain in the underground, like death metal in the old days. Respect to you Roga, keep up the good work. Just one wish… tour!
Land of Weeping Souls is out now