The self-titled debut release by Leper Colony is the latest in the massive list of Death Metal endeavours by that living legend Rogga Johansson. This time around, he’s teamed up with vocalist Marc Grewe whose distinctive delivery originally caught my ear and my interest on the first Insidious Disease album Shadowcast back in 2010, and drummer Jon Skäre of Consumption, Crossbow Suicide and Defiatory fame with Rogga covering guitars and bass.
Leper Colony – Leper Colony (Transcending Obscurity Records)
Release Date: 13 January 2023
Words: Jools Green
Musically this album delivers everything and more that this winning line-up suggests it might. Still, that original Insidious Disease album had a slightly “Inspired by Rogga” sound to it for me, so all the more reason this should be, from my perspective, a natural winner also.
Leper Colony is a nine-track, thirty-three-minute offering that is a blisteringly good, well-varied listen end to end. Opening on The Human Paradox, an engaging driver from the offset, the air punctured with a harrowing scream from Marc, his raw but clearly delivered, distinctive vocals coursing over the riffs, and a burst of leadwork midway elevates the track nicely.
Perdition’s End has a decidedly sinister air to the riffs, with the vocals tearing their way through with menace along with some superb hauntingly melodic passages and searing leadwork adding to the richness of the track.
The Surgical Undeadvors is another driving beast, punctuated with exotic but sinister riff bursts, squealing leadwork and vocals that notch up the brutal to the next level. Tar And Feathers is a thrashy death driver with searing screams, squealing leads and dramatic ebbs and builds in pace, melding together into an utterly gripping listen.
Rapture Addict grabs your attention from the offset with its groovy but gritty repeat riff, and there’s a superbly sinister undercurrent to the track as a whole which I love.
Title piece Leper Colony is a hauntingly moving and powerful piece. A reflective, melancholic melody courses its way through the track alongside harrowingly delivered lyrics, punctuated with screams and cries, a magnificent track.
The pace ramps up again for the punchy A Flow So Greatly Macabre, a track that leans a little more towards a classic Rogga feel to the delivery, as well as some squealing mid-point lead work to add to the urgency of the track.
Flesh Crawl Demise takes no prisoners as it opens, bursting forth with squealing leads alongside a punchy unstoppable drive and powerful shouty vocals delivered with urgency. When the pace ebbs back midway through, it’s still a crushing brute, just making space for some squealing leadwork and a slight groove to the rhythm to edge their way in, the brutal drive returning towards the close for one final aural assault.
The final piece, Gruesome End, doesn’t disappoint either. It’s catchy and punchy, the vocals raw, acerbic and superbly intonated, with a few more final aural assaults from some well-placed bursts of squealing leadwork and, to the close, a “Rogga” signature haunting riff.
The strikingly complex and eye-catching artwork by Alex Tartsus (De Profundis, Depravity) and the logo by Dipayan Das.
Leper Colony is old-school Swedish Death Metal, but it pushes the boundaries beautifully. A must for Rogga fans and Morgoth, Asphyx, and Insidious Disease fans. What a great way to start the new year