Grisly – The Spectral Wars Review

Another month, another Rogga Johansson album to review…

And like the rest, this one’s a Swedish death metal album… Who would’ve expected that? *

For this debut from his new outfit Grisly, Johansson The Swedeath Machine is paired with ex-Paganizer bassist Dennis Blomberg and drummer Henke Lundgren. In the pantheon of Rogga, Grisly falls towards the upper end of the middle — it’s not as rote or as unfortunately bland as the last Speckmann & Johansson offering, and it’s not as dreadfully ho-hum as that last Ribspreader, but neither is it as strong as Paganizer itself, or as interesting as the Lovecraft-inspired and Kam Lee-fronted The Grotesquery.

Release date: September 12, 2018. Label: Xtreem.
Opener “Consumed From Beneath” is a by-the-numbers Swedeath thrasher — not bad, but not particularly brilliant, memorable mostly for Johansson’s grunted “smorgasbord of flesh” refrain — but from second track “Rot To The Living,” The Spectral Wars starts to pick up a little steam. That one’s simply more energetic, better constructed, still with straightforward riffing, but now hookier, more memorable, more immediate. Most of The Spectral Wars keeps in a mid-tempo lumber, occasionally breaking loose, but predominantly locked in a steamroller drive. The lumbering “The Casket Eaters” is the album’s centerpiece, paired with the appropriately ripping (if grammatically questionable) “Teeth That Rips,” the two best examples of Grisly’s Grave-meets-Asphyx rumble.

In keeping with Grisly’s mid-tier status, none of the performances are astounding, nor are any of them anything less than competent. Rogga’s riffs may as well be templates for Swedish death metal, his tone appropriately buzzsaw-y, and his vocals an intelligible guttural growl — you’ve heard it all before, often from Rogga himself, but at least, here it’s presented (again) with skill. The whole of Grisly’s bite is delivered capably and professionally, with an open, spacious production that allows the buzzsaw guitars to breathe, lending the whole of The Spectral Wars another old-school facet.

As with all things Johansson, your enjoyment of The Spectral Wars depends on your needs: If you crave innovation or flash, then this isn’t for you. If you just want to crank up a growling, thrashing death metal album that sounds like older, better growling, thrashing death metal albums from the past several decades, then The Spectral Wars is another fun and yet inessential Swedeath offering from a fine fellow who can seemingly toss off a respectable death metal riff without thinking too much about it. If, in turn, you don’t think too much about it, then you’ll likely find something to like within these Spectral Wars.

* Everyone.  Everyone would’ve expected that.

Posted by Andrew Edmunds

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; born in the cemetery, under the sign of the MOOOOOOON...

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