Ecnephias // Necrogod
Rating: 2.5/5.0 — Oh Hades, Oh Hades, Oh Hades, O Hades… sticky stuff!
Label: Code666 Records
Websites: Facebook.com/pages/Ecnephias-Official | Myspace.com/ecnephiaskingdom
Release Dates: EU: 2013.06.28 | NA: 08.06.2013
Yup, I’ve been picking promo’s based on album art again, some say it’s no way to pick an album, that the two don’t correlate, I disagree. Don’t knock the system till you’ve tried it! What it boils down to is that I have no history with Ecnephias, I’ve not come across their dark melodies before and as mentioned, it was graphic artist Pierre-Alain D. (3mmi Design) and his attractive album art that prompted me towards this review. At any rate, being the driven and totally dedicated reviewer that I am, I did my homework, working my way back through the bands discography, which for the most part I found lacking in said dark melody. Ecnephias have been plagued with lineup and label changes and in general their early work is bland and lacks the brutality that I expect from blackened metal. Maybe it was signing to Code666 (the “cult” sub-label of the Aural Music group) or working with the likes of Dan Swano (of Edge of Sanity fame and owner of Unisound Studio), but it seems something’s clicked into place on this, their fourth release.
Nestled between two hearty instrumentals “Syrian Desert” and “Winds of Horus,” Ecnephias have fashioned eight tracks that atmospherically and melodically capture elements of Paradise Lost and Woods of Ypres and combine them with their own mixture of obscure, Mediterranean infused blackened death/doom. Other than the choral sequences and guest vocals, Mancan (Abbas Taeter, ex-Athem, ex-Deleterio and ex-Saturnalis Nox) handles all vocals on Necrogod. His growls are hearty and belligerent and contrast his rich, bold, baritone cleans that you’ll notice in tracks like “Ishtar (Al-‘Uzza)” have an odd comforting familiarity about them, bringing to mind David Gold of Woods of Ypres fame. Guest vocals on “Voodoo (Daughter of idols)” are nicely undertaken by Rotting Christ‘s Sakis Tolis. Sakis and Mancan work well together, creating quite the dynamic monster and this track is high up on my list of favorites. The Woods feel is also carried through into the instrumentation. “Kukulkan” and “Ishtar (Al-‘Uzza)” and both feel as though they’re competing for a blackened, doomy spot on,Woods 6… an album I know Steel Druhm and myself wish hovered on the horizon.
Early on you can feel and hear the chemistry that Miguel José (bass), Demil (drums), Mancan and Nikko (guitars) have developed as a band. Guitar solos are kept short, melodic and interesting and drum work is infectious on tracks like “Necrogod” and “Voodoo (Daughter of Idols)”. Sicarius Inferni (keys) adds an almost gothic feel to the album with his keystrokes on tracks like “The Temple of Baal Set” and “Kukulkan”, and he rounds off the melody and adds a sparse, understated beauty to all the black portraits.
Necrogod is not without fault, lyrically it’s a concept album inspired by the ancient pre-Christian cults of the southern hemisphere, which takes the listener journeying through Mesopotamia, Egypt, Africa, India and South America. While the subject matter is plenty cvlt, Necrogod suffers from some incredibly lazy songwriting, with the overly repetitive title track being the worst example. Seriously, repeating a two-word phrase eight times or more does not a chorus make [That’s known as Steve Harris Syndrome — Steel Druhm].
This aside, I found the front end of this album held my attention and withstood the weeks required repeat plays far longer than the draggy back end – “Anubis (The Incense of Twilight)”, “Kali Ma (The Mother of the Black) and “Leviathan (Seas of Fat)” are definitely not throw-away tracks, but they do start to feel old relatively quickly. Despite this slight dragginess, the varied and interesting vocals and the obvious growth between Inferno and Necrogod more than entices me to add Necrogod to my playlist [But wait…does it sound like Septicflesh or not?? — Steel Druhm]. [I’m not telling!! — Madam X].