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.
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.