ROGGA JOHANSSON – Entrance To The Otherwhere

ROGGA JOHANSSON – Entrance To The Otherwhere

On his 2nd solo album, the Swedish old school death metal legend, Roger "Rogga" Johansson presents excellent marriage of classic death Edge Of Sanity, old Amorphis, Paradise Lost and Tiamat death, while infusing the material with plenty of melody for some of the best melodic death metal in recent history.

Rogga Johansson needs no introduction, responsible for numerous Swedish old school death metal projects in the vein of Entombed, Dismember and Grave, sometimes injecting melodic overtones, but mostly just paying homage to the genre’s classics. His most recent work before this album was Megascavenger’s "Boneyard Symphonies", which I reviewed and found underwhelming because I didn’t find it consistently catchy and melodic. That’s why I was very pleasantly surprised with "Entrance To Everywhere" as it is everything I expected from Megascavenger and didn’t get.

Fusing together sounds of ancient Death, Obituary, Amorphis, Paradise Lost, Tiamat and taking several pages from Dan Erland Swäno, especially Edge Of Sanity, as well as post – "Osculum Obscenum" Hypocrisy, Rogga created a very enjoyable and catchy record, which, unlike the last Megascavenger, easily demands repeated exposure. I love nods to the classics, such as to Death’s "Within The Mind" (The Re-Emergers) or to Sepultura’s "Inner Self" (When The Otherwhere Opens) as well as to more contemporary Dark Tranquillity’s "Ego Drama" (In The Grip Of Garpedans) as these are all bands and songs I personally count among my favorites. But I love the tracks where Rogga gets supermelodic the most. First and early case in point, "Till Bergets Puls" (roughly, "To The Mountain’s Rhythm") recalls Amorphis’ classic "Into Hiding" and 1994 Hypocrisy, while second instance, the title track, perfectly marries ancient Paradise Lost and 2000 Dark Tranquillity, both tracks easily the best examples of Rogga’s creativity and songwriting prowess, to say nothing of flawless execution on all counts, in this paragraph.

As for his performance, Rogga’s guitar tone is, heavy, balanced and melodic, thankfully without the asinine distotion typically found in such cases, whereby every instrument and vocals can be heard at a proper level with adequate power and finesse. As touching inspiration, he heavily leans toward Gregor MacIntosh and Aaron Aedy (Paradise Lost) especially in the more melodic moments, as pretty much every track has some of that vibe sprinkled on. His vocals are a medley of classic’s, too, now Gregor MacIntosh (Vallenfyre) or Nick Holmes (Paradise Lost) then Dan Swäno or Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy), always growling, allways in good taste, without going overboard like a wounded bear.

What I did not like that much on "Entrance…" were two tracks which recall more of the recent Megascavenger material: the Obituary-ish "Giants Walking At Night" and the Immolation-ary and ancient Hypocrisy – laden "A Journey Into Fear", the latter with an excellent epic but too short of an ending. Both tracks seem to lean more on the brutal than the melodic side of the man’s craft. They are not terrible and they might appeal to the more Swedish old school death metal fanbase, but to me they seem undercooked. Finally, the album, at its barely over 33 minutes, is too short. At least one more track, preferably of the more melodic constitution and you’d have been looking at a double digit score.

Rogga Johansson really positively surprised me with "Entrance To The Otherwhere". If you like albums such as Edge Of Sanity’s "Purgatory Afterglow", Amorphis’ "Tales From A Thousand Lakes" or Tiamat’s "Clouds" chances are you’ll be snapping along with me on this like Randall Mario "Macho Man" "Savage" Poffo on a sausage slim jim.