The Die Is Cast

The craziness of 2020 just kept rolling in. Did it not? Hell, everytime I thought I was about to get somewhat caught up in my “real” job and life, another curve ball of some shape or form got thrown my direction, ultimately taking time away from one thing to give to another. Nine times out of ten, it’s my reviews that suffer the consequences of having to share time and priorities with me ol’ life. Take Norway’s Brotthogg and their sophomore full-length release, The Die is Cast. The album has been out for more than a few months now, with my review being just as many months late. That’s okay though, because all in all it looks as if The Die is Cast had gotten a bit overlooked amongst bigger name releases and the word of mouth opportunity to heap praise toward Brotthogg is still as strong and viable as ever.

Having never heard, or even heard of, Brotthogg prior to picking The Die is Cast for review, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. If I’m being totally honest, and for whatever reason, I really didn’t anticipate anything original and /or groundbreaking. Funny thing though, while I definitely did not get anything remotely original or groundbreaking, I did get one hell of a fantastic album of deathly blackened, thrashing extremity. Built around the meshing of the influential offerings of Old Mans Child, Dimmu Borgir, Susperia, and Darkane, Brotthogg, whose name roughly translates to “the unpleasant one who gets the job done”, rips through seven tracks of dynamic and catchy, melodious and riff heavy , drum driven, synth-laden excellence. While yes, every track does indeed lie within the creative framework spectrum of said influences, and yes, those said influences can be easily spotted and called out, it’s all done so in a highly effective manner as opposed to simple copy-cat plagiarism.

Especially when Brotthogg throws out other fantastic influential styles that work so well and ring so true to the material. Like the Emperor and Dissection meets Astarte smatherings in “Forlis”, or the Dragonlord/Testament like fortitude found within “Icta Alea Est”. Of course one could hardly go wrong with “Draugen” and the tracks slower,  moodier and eerie melodic based dark lamentations that bring to mind a Behemoth-ian like nature. Or with the mighty “Liberation” and its abounding melodic licks, turn of the century-era Cradle of Filth/Dimmu Borgir keywork/synths, driving SteveAsheim(Deicide)-like footwork, and the flatout fantastic guitar solos of Stephen Carlson (an album highlight in itself) that all comes together somehow like a Scandinavian Dethklok in overall vibe and feeling. “Ressurection” dominates with strong blackened thrash of the Susperia kind, as does every track on The Die is Cast, though the stylings of old Megadeth, Dissection, and In Flames pop up unexpectedly, as does a tad of Symphony-X in the guitar happenings. Good Stuff!

Overall, Brotthogg more than pleasantly surprised me. The Die is Cast is more than a competent display of blasty, aggressive, deathly blackened thrash of the second generation Scandinavian kind. Catchy speedy, alluring at times and pretty much dynamic throughout. The album is full of terrific vocals via deathly growls, blackened rasps, and thrashing gruffs, driving rhythms and some stellar ass lead guitar work that provides many moments for headbanging and air guitar theatrics. Most of all, The Die is Cast provides good songwriting, plain and simple. With each track having its own identity and the album continously shifting, twisting, turning, pummeling, and bludgeoning in its precision and sophistication, the whole of it all hits with epic and zestful qualities galore.

Why Brotthogg has yet to be signed to a label proper is one more bogus ass thing about last year; hopefully better things loom ahead for the band, as well as humanity as a whole, in 2021. Based on the strength of The Dies is Cast alone, I doubt the band will stay on the independent side of things for too much longer.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
February 11th, 2021


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