Necromancing the Stone_Jewel of the VileI’m not a fan of gimmick band names. I’m also not a fan of gimmick album names, or gimmick song titles, or gimmick bands in general. It’s just all too gimmicky. Maybe I’m just a cranky old fella (Angry Olde Guy?), but if I want comedy in an album I’ll throw on my old Howie Mandel cassette. So when I see an album called Jewel of the Vile, by a band called Necromancing the Stone, complete with saucy cover art, I groan. But I am nothing if not obedient, so I click the Download button and brace myself for what is likely to come (and hope for a guest appearance by 1985-era Kathleen Turner).

Jewel of the Vile is the first full-length album from these American metallers, following on the heels of 2014’s EP Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. The formula here is plain old heavy metal, with a lot of thrashy overtones and even some sort-of death metal touches. This isn’t the day job for any of the band members: guitarist Justin Wood and singer “Big” John Williams are from Brimstone Coven, second guitarist James Malone plays for Arsis, Jeramie Kling drums for The Absence, and bassist Ryan Williams used to bass it up with The Black Dahlia Murder. So they’ve got some experience, and some heavy experience at that, but despite what might be some intense backgrounds, the music on Jewel of the Vile is surprisingly accessible. In fact, the band makes it loud and clear on the InterGoogle that they are at war with the lord of deathcore/metalcore, one Breakdownicus Gratuitous. Cute.

Things get off to a rousing start with “Crusher,” a blazing fast scorcher with a classic dual-guitar riff and screaming lead break leading into the first verse. “Big” John comes in with his tenor, singing about an evil creature who has come to black out the sun. It’s an impassioned delivery, which unfortunately is the high point on the record for our illustrious singer. Beyond this opening track he displays even less passion than (and somewhat of a resemblance to) Don Dokken of days gone by (“Tooth and Nail” could easily fit on Jewel of the Vile). Solid backing vocals throughout the record along with the occasional deathlike growl spice things up, but not enough to overcome the feeling of dullness emanating through the vocals.

Necromancing the Stone_2016

Luckily the band bails him out throughout Jewel of the Vile. Musically there isn’t a weak link to be found. Both guitarists hammer out catchy riffs, at times fast and others thick and chunky, lead breaks range from token classical-themed wankery to squealing Zakk Wylde-inspired shredding and back to 80s harmony leads and guitar tones reminiscent of Judas Priest. The bass growls away, more than happy to try keeping pace with the frenetic drumming throughout. Musically the only real complaint is the record’s length; 55 minutes is a bit long, and while none of the songs are atrocious, a few (“Bleed for the Night,” “Rotted Reunion,” and “Honor Thy Prophet”) could have been culled without weakening the album. On the flip side, “Unfinished Business,” closer “The Battle of Morningstar,” the aforementioned opener “Crusher” are all standout tracks.

The production and mix are punchy and aggressive despite the standard DR 6 rating. Only one issue in this regard, and it’s a tiring one by the time you get to the 55th minute of this too long record: the kick drum is overloud in the mix. It’s not bad if listened on, say, computer speakers, where there’s no bottom end to speak of, but play this on a system that has a pair of balls and your ears will be asking you to visit the library when this is over. When I finished listening to this record my first though was “Wow, that was a lot of kick drum.” One of the best songs on the album, “The Siren’s Call,” illustrates each and every plus and minus described – killer guitar work, mostly stellar production, overdone kick drum, and blasé singing.

Jewel of the Vile is a surprisingly enjoyable slab of metal played by a band that clearly has what it takes on almost all levels. A troubled vocal performance along with a feisty kick drum and a long running time make this a pretty good but not great release.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Blade
Websites: necromancingthestone.bandcamp.com  |  facebook.com/necromancingthestone
Releases Worldwide: August 5th, 2016

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  • RuySan

    Is this the same artist that does the Perturbator album covers?

    Yes, I could have googled, but where is the fun in that?

    • brutal_sushi

      Thought the same thing… I’m not googling it as well.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Two covers with nipples in a row. Is this a thing now?

  • Chris_Martin

    Nice job stealing that EP title from Primal Fear, you clowns. Or from the 2007 movie, which may be worse.

    • Lars Barres

      That’s from some old Irish saying – something like “May you be three steps into Heaven before the devil knows you’re dead” – unfortunately my Irish Granny passed away before I was born, so I only got a light sampling of that stuff from aunts and uncles, and my memory sucks.

      But they may have stolen it from Primal Fear anyway.

      • Mad_Iguana

        That’s the one, indeed. It’s “May you be half an hour in heaven before the devil knows you’re dead”

      • Chris_Martin

        Had no idea about the Irish origins. Thanks!

    • Adjudant

      Or the song and single title from Jimmy Barnes which was significantly better than all of the above

  • Lars Barres

    This sounds like old Falconer on ‘ludes – I kinda dig it.

  • 517H

    I am actually digging this in a kind of 3.5/5 kind of way. Sometimes it gets up to 4/5 when a kick ass riff comes in or a shredding solo.

    On a side note – I thought I was listening to Demiurg’s Death Grasp Oblivion when Ritualistic Demise started. Had a minor WTF moment

  • AngryMetalBird

    That cover….

  • GardensTale

    Metalfying movie titles sounds like a great forum game.
    Insolence Day.
    Satanzilla.
    What Nightmares May Come.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Some kind of monster…

      • sir_c

        Ah the new Metallica

    • Bart the Repairman

      And after all that metal…
      The Silence of the Amps
      and
      Django Unplugged.

    • Breakdown Palace.
      Black Metal Jacket.
      The Hateful Eight-track.
      The Marshall 120W Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

    • manimal

      Little Mermaider

  • Wilhelm

    The best name for a band I’ve heard in a long time and the album title is just as silly

  • Hammersmith

    I’m always a sucker for whatever James Malone is doing, but this sounds really solid. I actually like the vocals, although I feel like the guitar work is definitely the star of this show.

  • I’m really digging this one! The King Diamond solos and riffs are getting to me! Quite a consistent record too…

  • Every time I listen to this I almost cry by how amazing this could’ve been with someone decent on vocals. His voice is so exceptionally dull and thin. Otherwise a sick debut.

    • Shane Roddrick

      He killed last night live.