Reviewed: July, 2018
Released: 2018, Xtreem Music
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Rogga Johansson may not be the most innovative guitar player in death metal, but dammit, the dude’s a machine. Considering that in the now almost 7 months of 2018, he’s released new music with Down Among the Dead Men, Johansson & Speckmann, Revolting, Ribspreader, and now The Grotesquery, it’s clear that Johansson has no shortage of classic OSDM riffs up his sleeve. And when those riffs get paired up with the mighty growl of Kam Lee (ex-Massacre, ex-Mantas, always awesomeness), you get something special – like the death metal equivalent of peanut butter in your chocolate.
With The Grotesquery’s fourth full length album, THE LUPINE ANATHEMA, the band has shifted away from the Lovecraftian inspired arc of their last three records and opted to tackle werewolves this go ‘round, because why not? And not just any werewolves, but werewolves induced into their condition from normal wolves feeding on a dying Wendigo. Got all that? Good, let’s proceed…
With 10 tracks of Old School Death Metal under the influence of Old School Horror, The Grotesquery have offered up their finest work yet. Lee’s signature roar sounds stronger (and more menacing) than it’s ever been and Johansson clearly saved some of his best riffs for this record. Songs like “By Feral Ways”, “As Death Dies”, and “Beast of the Bayou (Night of the Rougarou)” rage just as ferociously as you’d expect them to given the band’s pedigree, but still somehow push the amps past ‘11’ and get your head to bang even harder. My favorite of the bunch, however, was the surprisingly atmospheric “Dark Cry of the Wolf” – which for whatever reason brought memories of John Carpenter to mind (both in film and score). Complexities aside, you know what you’re getting with The Grotesquery – this is a death metal record through and through. The riffs are fast and heavy, the vocals are loud and scary, the bass rumbles in your chest and the double bass pummel doesn’t stop for 40 minutes.
THE LUPINE ANATHEMA is first record where I’ve thought of The Grotesquery as a proper band and not just a musical project with its contingents spread across multiple countries. There’s an interconnectedness not only in the storyline of the album, but across the performances and flow of the tunes themselves that truly elevates this record above their past output. There’s no shortage of bands peddling their own brand of OSDM right now, but for the collective members of The Grotesquery to put out a record this good, this far into their careers is pretty damned impressive. You like death metal? You like horror? If you answered yes to either of those questions, you’ll love THE LUPINE ANATHEMA.