Last updated on 24 July 2021
Death Metal and Rogga Johansson are one of a kind. If there’s anybody in the metal multiverse who qualifies as an ambassador for that specific genre, he definitely is da man.
This guy doesn’t just make his brand of favorite music, he actually lives it. The list of active band projects is so long, it gives you a headache just to browse through them. To name just one, Paganizer, with its rough Death Metal offering, is probably the best-known outfit he successfully haunts.
And – of course – Mr. Johansson here already crossed our hawse a few times in the past. For a webzine that deals in heavy music, it’s almost impossible not to.
Now, he’s back on our beat with his project Eye of Purgatory that saw the light of day back in 2018.1) The Lighthouse already garnered our attention with that album art that screams Power Metal more than it ever would Death Metal. But then, amorphous marine beasts, especially those with tentacles, do serve well on a dish of unearthly growls. And never forget, a lighthouse is always there to signal danger. So, tasty stories and tunes are expected.
But fear naught, it wasn’t only the cover that drew us. The pull most definitely comes from that speedy Death Metal that trashily races away like there’s no tomorrow. No gurgling about the soundscape like an inoffensive little waterfall on this piece. Instead, you’re getting a deluge of aggressive meaty riffs that come on the trademark gruff growls Johansson is famous for. Gosh, this almost felt like the folks of Amon Amarth kinda traipsing about in the background. But only just about, there ain’t no Vikings here.
All of that metal jazz comes with often weird melodic elements that do smack of age-old midi-style electronica and keys just shy of a cheese disaster it should never become. So, not quite Melodeath, but weird enough to be interesting. And that is precisely that kind of spice that Eye of Purgatory here needed to up the ante a bit.
That said, The Lighthouse undoubtedly forms part of the Rogga brand. In other words, similarities to other albums in his portfolio make their existence known all over the record. It is of course also true that we can forever argue that this or that detail may be different from former pieces. But the stark fact is, this album here doesn’t differentiate enough.
But then again, we already knew that this might happen, right? At the speed new metal pieces emerge from this corner of the metal world, you gotta be a friggin’ metal god to subtly remodel your wares enough to make a difference. You’ll undoubtedly find overlaps, and this is what we’re seeing.
And it’s not for lack of trying. Fornever To Awaken takes you on this meaty ride. Mighty riffing that would put Thrash or Heavy Metal outfits to shame. And all of that prowess always surfs on a wave of weird keys that kinda seem to step right out of a ’70s sci-fi movie.2) Whereas Carved In A Stone Bleeding really feeds ye that red metal meat you crave. With dream-like riffing and sudden ambient breaks. In addition, the band really lets ‘er roar with some heavy-stomping groove towards the end of this particular track. I’d really like to be in the concert hall, once they let that one loose on the fan crowd.
All of that follows up with that heavy chugging beat Pieces Of A Fading World brings to your loudspeakers. This one surely excels with its solo that came as a surprise and truly ended too soon.
Ultimately, The Lighthouse has a lot speaking for itself. Boundless energy, speedy Death Metal at high levels of excellence that will make your metallic day shine brighter. An album without a shred of boredom that does not disappoint. Yet, all things considered, I would have preferred a tad more innovation in that murky sea of red-hot Extreme Metal full of strange beasts and amorphous horrors. That would have transformed the record from good to great. Alas, it was not to be.
That – however – simply means that Eye of Purgatory created a rock-solid sophomore album full of red-hot, slightly melodic Death Metal. One that sails on stellar riffing, solos to dream for, and a laudable contribution of one Rogga Johansson in great form.
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