When I first started listening to death metal, I didn’t know what I was looking for other than something to really leap out at me. Nothing held my attention or served as my gateway drug until I stumbled across Feared’s “Vinter” – both important parts of my current playlists and current metal palette that I still reference heavily. Ever since then, the mastermind behind Feared, Ola Englund, has been a massive influence on my overall taste as a metalhead and a man that really helped me get into the more extreme side of metal where it felt no one else could. His style is his own as he seemingly makes every noise his guitar makes sound masterful, and it’s finally now with his debut solo record that we get to see a side of his style that’s still incredibly familiar but fresh the likes of which Feared and The Haunted will never produce.
What I’ve always liked about Englund’s sound is how uncompromising it is while still allowing something like death metal to feel incredibly organic – even alive at times – as everything comes together beautifully as he bounds effortlessly from grand solos like that featured in “Godless Devotion” to heavy sluggers like “My Shadow World” to more somber listens like “The Morgue”, and that’s not even mentioning anything from The Haunted! But it’s with “Master of the Universe” that we see this master of the strings take a different route with his style as it’s with these six tracks that Englund opts for a more progressive sound that brilliantly gels together the realms of rock and metal into a seamless listen that’s as free-spirited as much as it is heavy. Just looking at the names of the songs gives you an idea into the attitude behind this album, but don’t let that fool you as “Master of the Universe” is nothing to underestimate. There’s so much jammed into the impeccable record that is impossible to take it all in with a single listen as we see Englund truly explore all of his sonic knowledge while also expanding it with this release. No stone is left unturned, no riff left unchallenged, no song left without immense satisfaction, and no question of quality can be found anywhere within “Master of the Universe”.
This is an album that shows the clear mastery behind this musician that many of us have known of for years, and it’s here that Englund can spread his wings in a different style that shows us even more how masterful Englund has become as a musician. While Feared has been quiet, The Haunted surely doing some work of their own, and Solar Guitars making hell of a name for themselves, the metal master known as Ola Englund never truly sleeps as it’s with “Master of the Universe” that he brings the heavy to us yet again!
“Master of the Universe” releases on March 24th!
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