Putrevore- Macabre Kingdom
Late in 2010, I discovered Putrevore's debut album Morphed From Deadbreath, and it was love at fist listen. Tearing itself from the primordial ooze, drenched in slime and embryonic diffuse, Morphed From Deadbreath was a Precambrian beast to be feared. Firmly entrenched in the Rottrevore school of down-tuned, gut-bucket brutality, it was a worship album that felt more like an extension of the sound than mere imitation. Rogga Johansson and Dave Rotten, two titans in their own right, had created the single most impressive love-letters to a sadly under-utilized sound I've ever had the pleasure of being skull-fucked by, and it left me wanting more.
But like all primeval, primordial beasts, evolution must take it's course. Since we last left Putrevore stewing in a pit of bile and muck, much has changed: the claws have become sharper, the teeth more serrated, the hunting techniques more advanced. Macabre Kingdom is the definition of a nightmarish predator: massive and hulking indeed, but also in possession of a frightful, instinctual intelligence that sends shivers down one's spine. Rogga and Rotten have brought their collective experience to the project, writing songs which offer a more diverse pallet of Old-School sensibilities and good ol' American brutality(not bad for a Swede and a Spaniard) than Morphed From Deadbreath. Rottrevore's trademark sound, revisionist Swedish Death Metal cut free of cheese-tastic melody and guitars tuned to "Black Hole" mixed with strong Proto-Brutal Death Metal elements, remains the core of Putrevore's sound and Macabre Kingdom's devastating assault. But the two opening tracks, "Mysteries of the Worm Part I and II," give clear indication that this is not more of the same. Rogga brings his patented Swedish Death Metal vibe to the entire package, but shows a strong understanding of the material by never over-doing it: melody slinks below the torrential riff storms and Rotten's incredible guttural vocal assault, and occasional guitar solos add more to the material than detract from it. Also present is a healthy dose of Incantation style tremolo picking and Doom-laden devastation, perhaps a bit token for the current era of Death Metal, but executed beautifully here.
That would be more than enough innovation for any band from one album to the next, but Rogga and Rotten must not have been content with even that, and sought to push Putrevore's sound further into new directions. "Mysteries of the Worm Part II" fit's right in with the modern Occult Death Metal scene, featuring atmospheric keyboards and dark, serpentine riffs that would give Antediluvian nightmares, while "Awaiting Awakening Again" grooves and rumbles like Bolt Thrower and Grave after blowing through two thirty-packs. Macabre Kingdom doesn't really maintain a consistent tone throughout the album, and instead goes for an all-encompassing view of Death Metal as a whole; it's past and it's present. There really is something here for everyone, and the fact that Rogga and Rotten can keep the whole album focused and utterly uncompromising over all eight tracks is a monumental achievement. Rogga has always been known as a "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" kind of guy through his various SwedDeath worship acts, but Macabre Kingdom feels like a coming out party for the gifted guitarist: he deftly and expertly dances between styles and riffs with impressive dexterity and real understanding of the material and the sound. I never would have guessed that a Putrevore album would be Rogga's most impressive and multifaceted performance, but that's exactly what has happened. As for Rotten, there is little to be said: this is arguably the most impressive guttural vocal performance on an album since Antti Boman first blew the world's collective dome with his inhuman vocalizations on Nespithe.
I can't imagine Putrevore will remain in the periphery of Death Metal any longer with this release. Morphed From Deadbreath was brilliant but very niche, as only hardcore fans of the already generally obscure Rottrevore would get much from it. Macabre Kingdom is truly an appropriate title: the vast appeal of this album will, if justice be served, crown Putrevore as one of the best projects the modern Death Metal scene has to offer. May they rule with an iron, gory fist.