It wasn't that long ago I was reviewing Revolting's “Hymns Of Ghastly Horror”, the latest album from the latest band culled from the never-ending death metal mind of Rogga Johansson. Having not paid much attention to the death metal scene, I already felt like I was being overloaded with material from him, and now comes yet more music from the most prolific artist working in metal today. Megascavenger continues Rogga's tradition of never stopping, never letting up, never thinking enough is enough.
At some point, even the sharpest knife becomes dulled by repeated use. My feeling for the works of Rogga is much the same, that he releases so much music with such regularity that whatever impact individual songs and albums could make get lost in the mass of his own work. Simply put, there isn't enough deviation from project to project to make them stand out as anything but another of Rogga's bands, which makes each one of them less than they otherwise would be. Megascavenger is a perfectly acceptable old-school death metal project, but so too was Revolting's album this year, and Ribspreader's, and on and on.
The draw on “Descent Of Yuggoth” is a roster of guest vocalists who show up to trade growls with Rogga, which does help to make the songs more distinct from one another, but can't raise it out of the same-old, same-old feeling that is pervasive. It's always nice to hear Dan Swano's venomous bark, but his appearance isn't far enough removed from Rogga's own to be special, not in the way his guest appearance on Hail Of Bullet's debut album was.
“Descent Of Yuggoth” is old-school to the core, with fuzzy guitars and an adherence to bare-bones playing. But lost in that approach is the fundamental of what made old-school death metal great; catchy songwriting. The songs on the album fall short not so much when you're listening to the album, but when you're done. When the record is over, and you stop to remember what you've just heard, recalling the songs is difficult. They lack the killer instincts and sharp hooks to embed themselves and demand to be remembered.
Sure, “Smokescreen Armageddon” has a groove-laden breakdown that is awesome in context, but it doesn't integrate with the rest of the song well enough for it's shine to rub off. Far too often the songs rely on the same traditional riffs that have been populating death metal for twenty years, all of which have been heard many times before, and in better songs.
Even the production doesn't quite work, trying to capture the grainy vintage tones of early 90's Sweden, but sitting under a layer of digital wash that doesn't allow the guitars to cut through like the chainsaws the classics were compared to. Odd though it may be to say, it's too clean a sound for the target Rogga was shooting for. The entire record could have used a dose of dirty atmosphere to make it sound more well-worn, more authentic.
So what Megascavenger winds up being is a very similar sounding death metal record that is perfectly acceptable on it's own, but doesn't offer up anything Rogga hasn't done through his myriad other projects just this year. I would say it's mostly for completists.