The Grotesquery – The Lupine Anathema (2018) REVIEW

If you’ve been on board with Kam Lee‘s activity beyond Massacre then you’re probably slightly better informed in terms of figuring out what differentiates his performances beyond ‘Promise’ than I am. I was up for Denial Fiend and Bone Gnawer early on but ultimately their releases felt bloated, artificially heavy and… though I’m sure folks will argue, the riffs weren’t there. The Grotesquery cropped up around 2010 as one of many collaborations between Rogga Johansson and various well-known death metal vocalists from the 90’s. Though it was not as spirited, or fitting, a collaboration as Johansson’s work with Paul Speckmann, ‘Tales of the Coffinborn’ was at least appropriately tuned towards Kam Lee‘s barreling vocal strengths.

Though their sound initially boasted Florida style death metal with a Swedish twist, the project quickly strayed all over the map with unpinnable pure death metal influences and horror thematics. ‘The Facts & Terrifying Testament of Mason Hamilton: Tsathoggua Tales’ added the best bass tone for Johan Berglund to date, resembling the direction Massacre were toying with on ‘The Second Coming’ demo. My feelings about the project have remained steady throughout each release, though, as they stray towards the melodic death of Revolting too often and never capitalize upon the thrash influences of Florida death metal. The Grotesquery essentially sounds like Revolting with Kam Lee’s vocals, to me at least. The same cluster of ideas seep into each of Johansson’s projects and because he spreads his ideas so thinly across so many bands, each one inherits a ‘sound of the year’ be it production, guitar tone, or riffs. With albums from Revolting, Down Among the Dead MenJohansson & Speckmann, already released plus a new Ribspreader coming up it was almost hard to sit down and take The Grotesquery seriously as I begin to wonder how much care is really going into each release. None of them are as strong as Johansson’s work in Paganizer, mind you.

I’d seen ‘Curse of the Skinless Bride’ this same way in the similarly clustered 2015, a great year for death metal in general, and more or less passed it over for it’s lack of ideas. ‘The Lupine Anathema’ feels redundant from every angle this time, as riffs seem written in the same string as both Revolting‘s ‘Monolith of Madness’ and Down Among the Dead Men‘s more punkish ‘…And You Will Obey Me’. I’d feel far more excited about Kam Lee singing along with a melodic death metal song, something I hadn’t heard outside of maybe a backing track for Loudblast, but “By Feral Ways” feels far too related to other Johanssen work released this year. There is something oddly cut-and-paste about it that bothers me, just in terms of any care going into the album’s theme, ideas, and guitar work. But hold on, before you flip your curlies: It isn’t a bad album at all. I’ve no doubt  in my mind that there are die-hard fans ready to jump in and mosh to this stuff, my only objection is that it feels like a non-special record ripped from the Swedish metal factory’s slightly altered mold.

In fact hey “By Feral Ways” is a great melodic death metal song and “Dark Cry of the Wolf” has some smaller hints of inspiring melodeath-relevant guitar work as well. “As Death Dies” sounds like a riff chopped directly from Down Among the Dead Men‘s cutting room floor but used in to a more Carcass-esque effect. “Ithaqua the Wind Walker” has some great later era Bolt Thrower inspired riffs as well. There are good ideas here no matter where you look but nothing life-changing pops up. If you’re already a fan of this project then you’re in a good place because The Grotesquery make enough changes to their sound to differentiate from past recordings and ‘The Lupine Anathema’ is well-placed in their discography. Far from essential and honestly fairly rote, but still a professional and heavy entry that deserves points for melodic experimentation and differentiating themes.


Artist The Grotesquery
Type Album
Released April 6, 2018
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Shape-shifting man-wolves. 2.75/5.0

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