It appears that the RMR deck crew took a liking to a score of them one-man-show and/or solo projects over time. But this does not really come as a surprise.
These projects often deliver music differently, somewhat off the beaten track. You need those outfits that are hungry and want to succeed on a different plane than all the other mainstream folks.
And sometimes these projects and their records just grip you and won’t let go – at first at least. And you don’t even know why that should be. It’s truly visceral in a sense.
Rogga Johansson and his newest solo record Entrance to the Otherwhere just achieved that feat. Short as it may be at 33 minutes only, the record had my immediate attention. Even the pretty snazzy album cover did impress, plus the ardent marketing offer that Rogga puts on display.
Yet, with all that gripping and thundering at first, I still kinda wondered where all this Melodic Death Metal goodness heads to. True, Entrance to the Otherwhere already garnered some positive critical acclaim. But something just does not sound right.
Or does it, now?
At first, you notice the comfortable growling, kind of along the lines a Noumena likes to do it. Together with a slice of Insomnium or two. The artist also injects this meaty, yet still true Melodic Death Metal style that we did not find too often lately. And strangely enough, EttO often almost mirrors the somewhat frugal style of bands like My Silent Wake.
Well, Rogga Johansson plays a somewhat early Melodic Death Metal. Corny, direct and a tad bare-bones. All of that rushed to the scene in a relatively rapid, yet still mid-tempo speed with no further experimentation or adornment.
And for sure, Rogga jumps into the fray without a second of thought with Re-Emergers. No unnecessary intros and outros and what have you. The no-nonsense approach to Death Metal really is one of the main pillars of quality on Otherwhere. One that we really liked. Because it does return a sense of purpose to a genre that offerings from other bands sometimes sorely lack.
Yet again, the Master of All Trades, Jack of None bug struck on this record too. Rogga did get a session drummer – Brynjar Helgetun (The Grotesquery) – to supplement the offering, though. But all other instruments sign themselves to da master himself.
Which is great, but….
Entrance to the Otherwhere gets us that typical self-made man look and feel. With a somewhat unfinished quality to an otherwise pretty good record. Tracks linked together in a roughly helter-skelter way without a lot of thought to flow. All of that comes across as a bit unpolished around the edges, with Tiamat-esque and slightly bizarre fillers like Berget Vaknar slam in the middle of things.
In line with the above, the record does also exude a sense of being rushed. This even translates to the videos we found, which somehow work by template and limited creativity. A pity, if I look at the album cover that is clearly stellar.
Yet, Rogga Johansson really delivers for those fans of this economical style of Melodic Death Metal. And this is something EttO has to give in spades. No hint of clear vocals, no speed excesses. But just good, down-home Death Metal. Sometimes blackened or melodic, and sometimes doom, but always tasty.
So, let’s put a wrapper around all this.
Entrance to the Otherwhere clearly celebrates the many talents of one Rogga Johansson. And his undeniable and undisputed knack for growled metal. Thus, for fans of Death Metal’s finest, this record will be and – indeed – is memorable.
Yet, with more attention to detail and – possibly – more outside help, EttO could have been a true juggernaut for the genre. Hey, even SIG:AR:TYR – another ardent defender of one-man-shows – did this lately, and to great effect.
So, why not Johansson?
Ed’s note: Fancy more Rogga? Why not try this.