Album Review – Chugger / Human Plague (2015)

A fearless band from Gothenburg bringing forth a technical and organic fusion of Melodic Death Metal and Southern Rock.

Rating4

CHUGGER - Human Plague cover artWhenever you think of the Gothenburg Sound (also known as Melodic Death Metal), forged in the 90’s amidst the harsh climate and technological progress in Sweden, names like At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity and In Flames will instantly come to your mind. Those bands were capable of creating something completely new in the world of heavy music, blending melody and violence in a unique way augmented by tons of catchy riffs and contemplative lyrics. Hailing from the same fruitful area comes the five-piece Groove Death Metal band Chugger, who after the 2013 EP entitled Scars are releasing now in 2015 their first full-length album, the heavy and modern Human Plague.

The initial idea behind the band came up in 2006 by guitarist Robert Bjärmyr, but it wasn’t until the end of 2012 that Chugger actually came to life with their progressive and aggressive musicality. Although they can be seen at first glance as just another Swedish Melodic Death Metal group, perhaps what differentiates them the most from all other Gothenburg bands is their ability to accurately add many interesting elements from American Southern Rock and Metal to their music, enhancing the level of belligerence found in every song in Human Plague. In addition, the album art designed by independent artist Sam Hayles at DOSEprod also effectively expresses the high-tech but organic fusion offered by Chugger in the album.

And all the modern music proposed by Chugger becomes clear as soon as The Grid starts, a song built of traditional Gothenburg sound pinched by Industrial Metal, Death Metal and even Metalcore, something In Flames have already done (but unfortunately got lost somewhere), as melodic as expected from a Swedish metal band and a great choice for jumping up and down with the band. The harsh growls by frontman David Dahl definitely help define the violence in their music, which is also the case in the first single of the album, Virus, where the band truly spreads their “virus” of metal. Furthermore, its short and effective apocalyptic chorus is more than perfect for screaming along with them (“One shot at glory / Ascending through the sky – Virus”).

CHUGGER band photo 2Rust is probably their most Americanized song, especially its heavy guitar riffs and vocals and its awesome headbanging rhythm (providing the listener once again another good opportunity to scream the lyrics with the band), while Never Alone showcases a melancholic slow intro followed by a dense atmosphere, an amazing “devilish” duet between David and Swedish singer Maria Strandén (ex- Therion), and inspiring lyrics about unity and never being alone in our society.

Feed The Fire follows similar lines as “Rust”: it’s another excellent raw and direct metal track with its main riff made for breaking your neck. Not only that, it’s important to say those guys know how to craft addictive choruses (“Burn! You feed the fire / Burn! With everything you do / Burn! You’re feeding the flames / Burn! Time to pay the price”). The following tune, Ignorance Divine, has a strong Gothenburg vibe with lots of rhythmic breaks, from a faster metallic sounding to Southern Metal/Rock riffs and Melodic Death Metal guitar solos, thanks to the great job done by guitarists Robert Bjärmyr and Fredrik Carlstedt; whereas Five Feet Down reminds me of some of the best songs by In Flames and Soilwork. The heaviness of the chorus is at the same level as the most violent Southern Metal, with kudos to drummer David Pergament for smashing his drums during the whole song.

CHUGGER - Spreading the Disease Tour FlyerIn Cut Out From Hell, which despite all its violence is a very harmonious 6-minute song, David offers some deeper guttural while the rest of the band keeps kicking ass at a high level, and after a short display of some nice riffs in The Pendulum Swing the band presents us Endgame, with its Arch Enemy-ish sonority and uprising vocals. Besides, maybe if this song was a little shorter it would have been a lot more effective. And finally closing the album with razin’ guitars and piercing vocal lines we have the title-track, Human Plague, a song that was born ready for Chugger’s live performances where the bass lines by Henrik Östlund are more solid and ferocious than ever.

There are many places on the web where you can find more information about Chugger and listen to their excellent music, such as their Facebook page, YouTube channel and ReverbNation, as well as enjoy an interesting reading about how Human Plague was brought forth with their online studio diary. And of course, don’t forget to purchase their music and witness their furious metal live, as their Spreading The Disease Tour 2015 is just about to take off with many dates around Europe. As the band states, “We are the voice of the voiceless. We do not fear what lies beneath. We are Chugger.”

Best moments of the album: Virus, Feed The Fire and Five Feet Down.

Worst moments of the album: Endgame.

Released in 2015 Rambo Music/Gain Music Entertainment/Sony Music

Track listing
1. The Grid 4:32
2. Virus 4:14
3. Rust 4:20
4. Never Alone 5:51
5. Feed The Fire 4:35
6. Ignorance Divine 5:21
7. Five Feet Down 3:37
8. Cut Out From Hell 5:56
9. The Pendulum Swing 1:24
10. Endgame 5:46
11. Human Plague 6:17

Band members
David Dahl – vocals
Robert Bjärmyr – guitar
Fredrik Carlstedt – guitar
Henrik Östlund -bass
David Pergament – drums

Guest musician
Maria Strandén – female vocals on “Never Alone”

Advertisements

The Walking Dead Review – Episode 402: Infected

The pigs might be gone, but at least our tough sheriff is back.

***WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS***

If you haven’t seen Infected yet, I suggest you scroll down to the end of this post first and watch the entire episode before reading the rest of the text.

I cannot believe I didn’t see what was actually happening to Greg Patrick last espisode! I thought he had some previous disease and died of natural causes, just as many other people, but it was in fact a new deadly virus like Ebola or the swine flu, a brand new threat to the whole group because it doesn’t matter how you die, you become a walker. I’m sad Greg Patrick won’t be in the show anymore, but happy to know that because of what happened to him there will be even more drama and danger in every episode to the survivors.

twd402_01Last night’s episode, Infected, had a lot of questions without answers, action, tough decisions and intestines (a scene inspired by the movie Day of the Dead, from the zombie master George A. Romero, according to Greg Nicotero), a perfect combination for all TWD fans. There were so many questions left that I can’t wait for next week’s episode to answer some of them: is there really a traitor in the group, the person that was feeding rats to zombies? Or were just those two stupid girls feeding their friend “Nick” in a very innocent (and idiot) way? How long will the prison fence stand still and strong against the increasing number of walkers looking for human flesh (I saw Nicotero saying there will be over 7,500 zombies in the next episode)? Who’s infected by the deadly virus, and who’s not? Is there a cure? How will everybody be able to sleep, knowing anyone can die at any minute and become a zombie inside the prison? Who burned the bodies of the two people that were already infected? How will Tyreese react to the death of his love, and to the presumable death of his sister Sasha, who is also infected by the virus? As I sad, too many questions to be answered.

Then there were the tough decisions, most of them taken by Rick. It was sad seeing Rick throwing those poor little pigs to the zombies to protect the fence from falling down, but at least we got our good old sheriff back. No more farming, no more cropping, it’s time for some action! In my opinion, giving Carl’s gun back to the boy was the best decision he could make, especially because Carl is really good at shooting and can help saving many people. Moreover, how many lives has he already saved since he got his gun? As far as I can remember, he saved Rick, Michonne (a couple of times), his sister Judith, Maggie, among others. A boy with a gun will have serious consequences to the whole story, of course, probably most of them for good. And I’m pretty sure Carl will put on his sheriff hat back now, that little badass.

twd402_02The most touching scene in this episode was seeing Michonne crying when holding Judith in her arms. Why was she crying? Did she have a baby a couple of years ago? Did she lost a baby? Did walkers eat her baby? Another important question to be answered soon, I hope. Michonne is becoming more and more human, and less that tough super-woman from the previous season, but I don’t know how this can be good for the group. Well, I personally prefer her chopping zombie heads with her sword than carrying a baby, but the producers know what they are doing. And before I forget, it was nice seeing Beth singing I Don’t Want to Grow Up to Judith. I’m not a fan of Tom Waits, but I love The Ramones version. Lucky baby, anyway!

Stupid humans, thousands of walkers, a deadly virus, a decaying prison… What else can make their lives even more miserable and the show more interesting to us? Will there be any more surprises this season? And again, where the hell is the Governor? I guess when he returns he will kick some serious ass. It’s going to be totally brutal, and awesome.

Infected (FULL EPISODE)