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Paganizer - Promoting Total Death (Reissue)

Paganizer
Promoting Total Death (Reissue)
by Sean McGuirk at 14 January 2019, 6:04 PM

PAGANIZER founding member, vocalist and guitarist, Rogga Johansson, has had his hand in a seemingly infinite number of bands, from the traditional Swedish Death homage RIBSPREADER, to Gothic Death THOSE WHO BRING THE TORTURE, to the Progressive/Melodic DEAD SUN, and then there is his solo work, released under his namesake, of which he will be debuting his second full-length album in early 2019.  And that’s just the tip of the Death Metal iceberg, as if you are to believe Encyclopedia Metallum, he’s had his hand in just about 40 different bands over the years!  You could probably say that PAGANIZER is where his attention is rooted, as 1999’s “Deadbanger” album is Johansson’s first official release, and the consistency in output (the band released its tenth full length album, “Land of Weeping Souls” in 2017) outline his dedication to the project.  With “Deadbanger” having relatively little to do with what the band would ultimately become, their second album “Promoting Total Death” was a critical moment in the creation of their brutal, straight-to-the-point Swedish Death sound.

Bands like CARNAGE, GRAVE, and DISMEMBER had a clear impact on Johansson’s style, as the band plays a groove-oriented, doomy attitude-driven Death with hardcore punk influences.  The album, originally released in 2001 and recently re-released for the first time on vinyl by Soul Seller Recordings (with new artwork by Juanjo Castellano), came at a time when Melodic Death Metal was reaching its high water mark, and its influence is easily heard on the album, with a song like the title track and album opener coming out with an attitude similar to that of MACHINE HEAD or KATAKLYSM, but less breakdown-centric than those acts and many more were during this time period.  “Brutal Way To Die” is reminiscent of the catchiness of early BLOODBATH, and its effectiveness in creating a sing-along chorus with a hardcore beat makes it a wonder why PAGANIZER never truly broke out into the mainstream.  “Only Ashes Remain”, comes through with a strong hardcore influence, with a dual death growl and fry scream chorus, and an added intensity that puts it firmly in the realm of classic Death Metal.  It’s that dichotomy of melodic mainstream sensibility and hardcore Death that make this one of those indefinable albums that appeal to a wide swath of metallers, from those who grew up on KORN to the old heads looking for a modern take on “Left Hand Path.”

Johansson, who is credited solely with vocals on the album, is pitch perfect and uniform in his intensity, transitioning seamlessly between gruff death growls to shrill screams, often layered on top of each other to great effect, like in the verses of “16 Seconds Massacre.”  Probably the most well-rounded song of the bunch, “All Hope is Dead” is nuts and bolts Swedish Death with a rolling tremolo picked open and a building intensity that pays off in a SLAYER-esque breakdown and a rare exotic lead solo from F. Pettersson along with some excellent drumming from Matthias Fiebig“Life Slips Away” is centered around a nice melodic IRON MAIDEN-inspired riff that’s teased in the intro and pays off later in the song, adding a distinct progressive feel to the song that helps flavor the album nicely.  The song runs seamlessly into the album closer “Pain Has No Face” which is perhaps the heaviest song on the album, a short-but-sweet Death Metal song with not a second of its two and a half minutes wasted.  Depending on the version you have there are a couple of bonus tracks, “Skinned” and “Bloodneed,” which are raw but nonetheless nice additions, as the latter track shows off Johansson’s penchant for Progressive Metal in the vein of DARK TRANQUILLITY or IN FLAMES.

Listening to the album now is interesting, as we have seen many, many bands play this style in the years since it originally came out, so it’s a credit to Johansson and PAGANIZER that they foresaw this trend, and along with Dan Swanö’s BLOODBATH, which released their debut in the same year, it marked a renewed interest in the classic Swedish Death Metal sound, with PAGANIZER’s unique melodic interpretation of this extreme genre resulting in a brutal and landmark release that we’re still revisiting to this day.  So that’s something, right?

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Promoting Total Death
2. Brutal Way To Die
3. Only Ashes Remain
4. 16 Second Massacre
5. At War
6. All Hope Is Dead
7. Cyclone of Human Atrocity
8. Life Slips Away
9. Pain Has A Face
10. Skinned
11. Bloodneed
Lineup:
Matthias Fiebig - Drums
Dea Carlsson - Guitar
F. Pettersson - Lead Guitar
Rogga Johansson - Vocals
Record Label: Vic Records
     


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Edited 01 December 2022
 

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