As I was driving home the other day, I noticed a couple of Latter Day Saints rolling through my neighborhood. Solicitors (with the exception of Sölicitör) always put me in the uncomfortable situation of having to decide if I’d rather answer the door and carry on an awkward conversation or wound my conscience by ignoring the visitor. I’m an intensely private person in real life, but I also have a hard time telling people to go away. My wife constantly mocks me for the time I stood at the door and listened to a salesman for nearly 30 minutes. He was a seasoned pro, but I gave him such a brutal listening-to that he actually ran out of stuff to say. We stood in silence for a moment before I said, “No, thanks,” and closed the door. Not wishing to repeat such an ordeal, I parked the car and ran inside while the Mormons were at my neighbor’s house. I quickly grabbed my giant Bluetooth speaker and placed it right behind the front door. I scanned my library for the most appropriate LDS deterrent and zeroed in on the promo for Paganizer‘s latest, Beyond the Macabre, blasting it at full volume. The doorbell never rang.
If you’re a fan of Swedish death metal, or death metal in general, you probably know who Rogga Johannsson is. The omnipresent Swede is in a host of bands, and his output frequency is beyond belief. Paganizer happens to be one Rogga’s longest running projects and, unsurprisingly, pays homage to just about everything that’s awesome about Swedish death metal. Previous album The Tower of the Morbid saw the band combining the buzzsaw sound of Dismember with a touch of melodic death metal a la Amon Amarth, and Beyond the Macabre finds the band dialing the latter up considerably. Embedded single “You Are What You Devour” demonstrates the band’s enhanced melodic sensibilities, slathering big melodeath leads over its beefy riffs. The track strikes a great balance between sweet and sinister.
And that balance holds throughout most of Beyond the Macabre. Things open with the one-two punch of “Down the Path of Decay” and “Left Behind to Rot,” the former bringing some of the albums gnarliest HM-2 riffing, and the latter following suit, albeit with more melodic accoutrements. “Succumb to the Succubus” augments its buzzsaw assault with a bit of groove metal angst, and “Raving Rhymes of Rot” throws in a bit of melodic death/doom. And speaking of doom, epic closer “Unpeaceful End” sees Bolt Thrower’s Karl Willets joining Rogga for a lumbering crawl to the finish line.
I’d have to say that the highs are higher on Beyond the Macabre than they were on its predecessor, but that makes the middling tracks feel a bit more middling as a result. Heavy hitters like “Left Behind to Rot,” “You Are What You Devour,” and “Succumb to the Succubus” are some of my favorite death metal moments of the year thus far, but they make the goofy “Meatpacker” and its chorus of “Meatpacker! – Frozen feeding frenzy!” feel pretty dumb as a result. But overall, Beyond the Macabre hits far more often than it misses.
In the end, I prefer Beyond the Macabre to The Tower of the Morbid, although that’s mostly a reflection of my personal preference and not necessarily a testament to a vast difference in quality. I happen to enjoy this album’s melodic focus, but you might prefer when the band skews towards the more brutal end of the death metal spectrum. Either way, Paganizer have written some fantastic tunes fit for scaring the heaven out of your religious solicitors.
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Websites: paganizer.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/paganizersweden
Releases Worldwide: June 24th, 2022