Album Review: The Germs of Circumstance – Johansson & Speckmann

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I’m going to start by stating the obvious: Rogga Johansson and Paul Speckmann are legendary underground Death Metal supreme beings. I am also going to assume that most of you already know that, but on the off chance this fact needs reiterated, allow me to attempt an explanation.

Johansson is in thirty-two active bands. Speckmann is in six active bands. Together (both active and non-active), they have been involved with sixty-one different groups. Speckmann’s main group, Master, has released 14 LP’s, 8 demos, 8 splits, 4 live albums, 3 compilations, and two EP’s. Johansson’s main band, Paganizer, has released 11 LP’s, 11 splits, 8 compilations, 7 EP’s, 1 demo, and 1 live album. This means that between the years 1985 to 2019, two men have collectively released 78 albums by two of their 61 different bands. Jesus Christ! 

That’s it! End of review! Go buy this fucking thing! 

I’m kidding, of course, but come on, man! For Death Metal, that kind of output is superhuman! That’s the kind of stuff typically associated with jazz artists. Miles Davis, for example, released 146 albums in his entire career. If you dig Miles Davis, that means there are 146 awesome Miles Davis albums to hear in your lifetime. Not bad, yeah? But that took Miles forty years! 

Now, before I lose all of you with a bunch of numbers (if I haven’t already), I’m just trying to point out that people who hate what they do for a living have no hope of achieving such great heights. If the passion Miles Davis had for creating honest, imaginative, original music could be translated from jazz to Death Metal, Johansson & Speckmann may well be the perfect specimens. The same principle applies to them as well, meaning that if you’re already a fan, you know full well by now that you’re not going to be disappointed by anything they unleash upon the world. 

The Germs of Circumstance” is the fifth full-length outing for Johansson & Speckmann as a team, which began in 2013 with “Sulphur Skies”, and has weaved its wicked way through the past seven years with a solid mixture of what Master would sound like with Johansson on guitar, or what Paganizer would sound like with Speckmann on vocals. There really is no better way to put it, unless you have no idea who either Master or Paganizer are, but if you’ve read this far I’m confident it won’t be long before you make yourself privy to the brilliant work these men have done (both with and without each other), if for no other reason than wanting to decipher weather or not I’m completely full of shit. 

Each Johansson & Speckmann album, aside from being solid examples of exceptional Death Metal, has a track or two that stands out. “Sulphur Skies” has “Taste the Iron,” “Mask of the Treacherous” has “Enslaved in Filth,” “Edge of the Abyss” has “Already in Disguise,” and “From the Mouth of Madness” has “Remove the Creep”. These, of course, are only my personal favourites, but the point is these dudes are consistent as hell. 

The Germs of Circumstance,” which to my ears is faster and dirtier than any of the previous four LP’s, has a number of stand-out moments, starting with the monstrous, opening title track. It weaves its way through strangely addictive melodies, sledgehammer riffage, ferocious drumming on songs like “I Was Left to Stare” and “Confessions of a Vital Leader,” with Speckmann’s trademark snarling growl and cadence as infectious as ever throughout. 

The album’s final track, “Devour Engage the Hour the Rage,” is the best of the bunch. That song has everything you need to hear from a Johansson & Speckmann team-up, and it serves as a perfect book end to the entire experience. Why? Because when it’s over, chances are you won’t be finished listening to your buddies Rogga and Paul, making you want to just start the damn thing over again. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? 

Rating – 4/5

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