Megascavenger // Descent of Yuggoth
Rating: 3.0/5.0 — Death stars rising
Label: Selfmadegod Records
Release Dates: EU: Out now! NA: 01.15.2013
Though I’ve tended to be suspicious of “super groups” throughout my music appreciating life, even I had to do a double-take when I saw the list of death metal luminaries lined up for this vulgar slice of vermin-infested Swedish brutality. Megascavenger is yet another outfit featuring the tireless master of time management, Rogga Johansson (Paganizer, Demiurg, Ribspreader, etc. etc.) This time he’s joined by the immortal Dan Swano (I’m not even going to list his numerous laurels), Paul Speckman (Master), Jorgen Sandstrom (ex-Grave, Torture Division) and several other notables. The moniker is god-awful and the style is of course, tried-and-true, crusty, old school Swedish death like Grave, Entombed and Entrails, but also features an unexpectedly huge dose of Bolt thrower, Autopsy and various grind influences. The result is a relentlessly heavy, murky and pummeling album, crushed under the weight of ponderous groove-based riffing, creepy leads, discordant solos and some of the most repellant vocals I’ve heard in a while. With some above-average song-writing and a who’s who of death metal royalty making it hum, this certainly has its share of wretched excess and gleefully unpleasant moments. It also has a few pedestrian ones that won’t do much to grab you. Luckily, there’s much more good than bad in Rogga’s 500th musical project.
The way things start off with the rumble and crush of “Nihilisticon,” you’ll almost certainly be impressed. It has huge, pulverizing riffs and larger-than-life death croaks mixed with vomiting, Autopsy-like gurgles. The riffs pound away and the solos are eerie and disquieting (a la Entrail‘s Tales From the Morgue opus). It’s nasty fun from start to finish and the riffing really got me on board. The title track introduces classic Bolt Thrower-styled “tank plowing across no man’s land” riffing interspersed with darker ones reminiscent of old Grave and Asphyx. It’s enjoyably grim and savage with great riffing and it keeps the momentum going well. “Smokescreen Armageddon” is way thrashier and urgent and has some increasingly evil vox which are a real treat.
The quality continues with more Bolt Thrower worship during “Catapulted Through Aeons” (cool riffs abound) and the super ugly doom death slither of “Void of Damnation.” After that however, things get a bit more dicey. “Funerals and Ceremonies” has decent Bolt Thrower riffing, but comes across as a bit generic. “Death Obsessed” sounds like it’s from another recording session altogether and has a raw, demo quality to it that I like, but the song itself isn’t too memorable. Happily, things end strong with the sewage treatment nastiness of “No Haven for the Sane,” which is steeped in Autopsy appreciation (especially the vocals) and “To Revel With Vermin” which wins with ominous, edgy riffs and a generally creepified mood.
As expected, this is the Rogga show and he handles the bulk of the vocals, which isn’t a problem, since he’s a great death vocalist with a deep, low-register roar. Swano and Speckman provide guest vocals here and there and the trade offs always add to the intensity, but they aren’t done often enough for my tastes. While I don’t have a credit list, it seems Rogga handles the bulk of the guitar-work with guest solos by the likes of Patrick Mameli (Pestilence), Jonas Lindblood (Puteraeon) and Eric Daniels (Asphyx). Most of the riffing is good and some of it is great. Many of the solos have that disturbing, horror movie vibe I love in my death metal, so that’s a big plus.
The sound is a great mix of old school sludge and modern clarity. The guitars sound huge and distorted as hell, as they should. The vocals are also very big and at times even override the riffing. I don’t know why “Death Obsessed” sounds different from the rest of the album, but its a small matter. The production is mostly dead on and pleasantly raw.
The front half of Descent of Yuggoth is significantly better than the back, and the early songs are easily in the 3.5-4.0 quality range. There’s some tasty and brutal shit on here which I really enjoy, though it isn’t consistent from start to finish. If you need a fix of Swedish death or wish there was a new Bolt Thrower platter in the offing, this will certainly do the trick. Now take a vacation Rogga, you certainly earned it!