STASS
"Songs Of Flesh And Decay"

(Emanzipation)

01. Dreams Of Rotting Flesh
02. Forest Of Bony Fingers
03. Beneath A Darkened Moon
04. I Work At Night
05. Sounds Of Terror
06. Fear Of The Living Dead
07. As The Seasons Bleach Your Bones
08. Skin That Peels Away
09. The Skeletons Are Ready
10. Hatchet Lover
11. The Revenge Of The Bog (Sounds Of Terror II)

RATING: 8/10

It's January, so that must mean at least one new album from Rogga Johansson. And here it is, the long-awaited follow-up to STASS's 2017 debut "The Darkside". Unlike most of the Swedish workhorse's higher-profile projects, STASS are a bona fide band, and while "Songs Of Flesh And Decay" was almost certainly not recorded in a single, sweaty room, it certainly sounds like the work of a living, breathing and blasting death metal band, rather than another wholly laptopped liaison. They are also one of Rogga's more pointedly melodic projects, with a knack for memorable choruses and old-school Stockholm hooks, which only occasionally surface in his more brutal efforts. The presence of CREMATORY vocalist Felix Stass explains both the band's name, and the exhilarating, flab-free and darkly catchy nature of these tunes. Clearly this is a collaboration made in death metal heaven/hell.

Opener "Dreams Of Rotting Flesh" is absurdly catchy, perhaps in spite of its gruesome title, and makes no bones about its debt to the early-to-mid '90s Gothenburg sound. But where STASS part ways with their tuneful forbears is in the truly psychotic levels of aggression in each and every song's ensemble delivery. This is breathless, bug-eyed stuff from start to finish, so even when indulging in spooky dynamics for the brooding "Beneath A Darkened Moon" or conjuring echoes of ENTOMBED's "Left Hand Path" for a couple of riffs during "Sounds Of Terror", these songs' accessibility is always balanced out by the omnipresent threat of a good, hard kicking.

Steeped in mystical, old-school horror, rather than more contemporary unpleasantness, there are strong undercurrents of gothic macabre swirling around underneath most of these songs. The titles say it all: "Fear Of The Living Dead", "The Skeletons Are Ready", "Hatchet Lover", etc., STASS are tapping into some fundamental heavy metal preoccupations here, adorning these simple but lethally effective death metal anthems with several layers of shadowy intrigue and B-movie shlock. Combined with Rogga Johansson's perennially mind-blowing ability to pen immaculate riff after scything riff, the band's deadpan goofiness ensures that "Songs Of Flesh And Decay" is a bloodthirsty riot from start to finish.

Of course, this is only the start. There will be more music from the ever-prolific guitarist for later in 2021. In the meantime, nobody serves up Swedish death metal quite like the man himself. With Felix Stass's grandmaster growling adding even more authority and grit, this is as essential as anything else in Rogga's vast and ever-expanding canon.

COMMENTS

To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).