When I was doing my interview with Ed Warby last November, I reached the end of the review and he mentioned that I hadn’t asked about Demiurg. Embarrassed, I admitted that I hadn’t heard Demiurg and was quickly informed as to its nature. To paraphrase Warby (who plays drums in this band, in case you didn’t know that) this is the “Rolls Royce” among vocalist Rogga Johansson’s bands and a real juggernaut of Swedish death metal. He hooked me up with a copy of The Hate Chamber, the band’s second record, and I was duly impressed. The band, made up of Rogga (Bone Gnawer, Paganizer, Ribspreader, The Grotesquery), Dan Swano (maybe you’ve heard of him), Johan Berglund (This Haven, The Grotesquery) and Ed Warby (The 11th Hour, Gorefest, Hail of Bullets, and more), has come back in 2010 with a new take on their already well-developed and unique sound.
Remember how I said that I liked The Hate Chamber? Well, I like Slakthus Gamleby about 5 times more than I liked the last record. Because while it maintains a fantastic old school death metal base, definitely influenced by bands like Grave or Bolt Thrower and having a tone very similar to modern “old school” bands like Bloodbath (Swano connection probably has something to do with that), Slakthus Gamleby pushes the envelope and makes it even more awesome. While The Hate Chamber definitely had some good experimentation going on, Slakthus Gamleby pushes that to the next level and ends up being reminiscent of Edge of Sanity while still being very unique.
The new elements aren’t surprising per se, given who’s involved in the project. The first thing that stood out for me was that Ed Warby does vocals on here, similar to his haunting singing from The 11th Hour‘s fantastic debut. I love this guy’s voice, it’s high and kinda creepy and it’s perfect for doomy metal. The addition of Marjan Welman on female vocals (from the Dutch goth metal band Autumn) adds yet another progressive element to what is otherwise a pretty chunky, riffy death metal record. There are also what sound like black metal influences that pop up here with a lot of keyboards which add yet another surprising and interesting element to this.
The only complaint I have about this record is that it’s only 39 minutes long. Other than that, everything is perfectly produced and while maybe I’d’ve chosen a different base guitar tone at times, that’s about all I can come up with. The drums are well-played and not over-produced, the riffing is addictive and interesting (see the opening combination keyboard and guitar riff from “Death Grasp Oblivion”) while still being old school and simplistic at times (the opening riff on the record in “Life is Coma” being the most perfect example). The compositions are aggressive sometimes, but switch easily towards more calm, but not less sinister, riffing (like in “From Laughter to Retching”) and keep the listener on the edge of their seat.
Slakthus Gamleby is the real deal and easily the best death metal record I have heard this year. While I had really liked the last record, I would’ve probably given it a 3.5 for good solid death metal with some interesting movement towards something cool and unique, but Slakthus Gamleby just nails it. This is everything I want out of a death metal record. Groove. Brutality. Sparse, but interesting technicality. Fantastic riffing and amazing vocal performances. I guess the only thing that I can’t comment on are the lyrics. If you like progressive or experimental death metal, old school death metal, doom metal, black metal or well, fuck, if you like extreme metal you should definitely give this band a chance because they are doing metal as it should be done.