Down Among the Dead Men are one of those collaborations of individuals from a scene that they have been a real significant part of but are overlooked by the scene they helped survive through the rough times. With this record, Dave Ingram of Benediction fame (amongst a plethora of other bands) and Rogga Johansson of Paganizer fame (from an even bigger plethora of bands) came together for their third album in five years under this moniker. Guitarist Kjetil Lynghaug adds the solos for the album and drummer Erik Bevenrud provides the metalhead with the speed to bang your head into oblivion.
Similarly to their previous two albums, DATDM do not rely on technical riffs flying all over the place and blast beats for heaviness. With opener “Destroy the Infinite”, Rogga ensures that the riffs are leaning towards the power and groove side and would rather bang their heads than start a pit. The biggest turn on for me was how vocalist Dave sounded and to me this is the most powerful he has been in years, even more than on the brilliant Echelon album he collaborated on, once again with Rogga. This song is very much in the vein of Benediction and will have the old schoolers grinning from ear to ear.
“Axis of Insanity” is much more in your face with its pace and would get the pit started at any gig. Still no blast beats in sight, just groove that you cannot help but lose control to. Riffage from Rogga of the highest order in the vein of all his previous works, but as always he makes it fit and the listener gets the maximum effect from each riff and time change from his songs. Towards the end Dave growls “Kill” and launches the song into its final surge and once again gets the pit moving. I felt there was an homage to Massacre on this song in the vein of “Symbolic Immortality”, so if you like that then you know what to expect.
The title track, “And You Will Obey Me”, is next and it’s more mid-paced drums from Erik swirling around Rogga’s intense riffing style. When Dave growls “And You Will Obey”, I got down on my hands and knees and worshipped the musicianship on show here. the songs are not lengthy – more of the short, sharp and in your face variety. There’s a lovely sample towards the end of the song where you can feel totally helpless and become immersed in the talent on show here and obey these masters of the genre.
By now, you will know what to expect from the rest of the album, but there are a few surprises up their sleeves yet. It’s not really until the fifth song “Omega” do you hear the crusty punk influence in the riffs from Rogga. Short and intricate solos from Kjetil throughout “House of Blue Fire” backed by drumming that would be considered death metal one minute and crust punk the next, but never out of place or of rhythm. The contrasting riffs throughout “Eye of Harmony” with the intricate solos once again from Kjetil add a nice edge to the tune before launching probably the best solo throughout the whole album.
This album had a particularly strong start and, coming toward the end of the ten tracks, I wanted it to end in a punch to the face, to make me want to press the repeat button and listen to it all over again. With penultimate track “Darkness of Glass” it does nothing else but get this neck snapping and raising the horns in appreciation of a good, simple headbanging song. Nothing overly technical in the riffs or speed for speed’s sake in the drums, just power grind with riffs and drums that just make you mosh your ass off. You can’t help but relate this to Benediction once again but it’s obvious as to why that is. With the final track “Panopticon”, I just left this laptop, got up and kicked everything in my living room as that is what this song and album makes you do. It makes you get up and take notice of what’s on show here once again you just have to smile on what’s on show. Much more in the Swedish death metal vein is the final track and Dave once again adds the final piece to the jigsaw to this album.
With ten songs in slightly over thirty minutes, I shall give you a clue as to the effect this album has on you. Have a look at the cover for Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power and that should sum this up for you. With Down Among the Dead Men, you have stalwarts of the scene that make the songs and album overall work and contribute to each other’s talents by adding their own magic to the songs. To some new listeners, the songs could be a bit samey, but to those who have shared the same passion for the scene as Rogga and Dave has, this is as refreshing and as strong a death/crust album as you will ever here.
Good luck in trying to beat this next time, boys! 8.5 out of 10.
And You Will Obey Me is out now through Transcending Obscurity Records