CD FolderDespite being dubbed the “Chameleon of Rock” for his ever-changing style, the late David Bowie didn’t agree with this title. “For me a chameleon is something that disguises itself to look as much like its environment as possible,” he once said. “I always thought I did the exact opposite of that.” But fret not, you fanatical herpetophiliacs out there, Canadian blackened-death trio Necronomicon is proof positive that musical chameleons do, in fact, exist.

Formed in Quebec in 1988, I first discovered Necronomicon in 2009 with their music video for “The Time Is Now” from third album The Return of the Witch. To say it was inspired by Behemoth is like saying the last Ketzer album had a slight Tribulation influence. The music and visuals were a dollar-store version of The Apostasy, and I quickly wrote them off without exploring further. Fifth album The Advent of the Human God shows Necro changing their colors to adapt to the modern symphonic environment inhabited by bands like Fleshgod Apocalypse, Septicflesh, and Carach Angren. Is it once again a plastic mockery of better music?

Surprisingly, no. Though the Fleshgod and Dimmu Borgir influence is clear right from the bombastic choirs of instrumental opener “The Descent” and orchestral flourishes that weave between the burly riffs of the follow-up title-track, “Advent,” shows the band deftly side-stepping the pitfalls of mid-period Fleshgod to produce a surprisingly adept take on the style. Whereas Agony was infamous for parading its strings over a squashed generic riff-bed, tracks like early highlight “Unification of the Four Pillars” show Necronomicon soaring through sections of squealing strings and chunky riffs that – while both equally mighty in sound – manage to not just coexist, but augment each other wonderfully. The symphonic element isn’t just a spice for bland music, either: the album’s strongest track, “The Golden Gods,” features no string accompaniment whatsoever, instead riding its pugnacious Evangelion-style riff to a crushing rhythm break and terrific solo, finishing with a cyclical, maniacal melody that would make Nergal grin.

Credit is due to both guitarist Rob “The Witch” Tremblay and drummer “Rick” (yep, just Rick). Tremblay’s death metal experience is apparent, and while his riffs may never be considered ‘iconic,’ moments like the hefty Nile-style opening and escalating Krisiun verse licks of “Crown of Thorns” give these tracks just enough headbang-fuel and distinction to make them surprisingly memorable. There’s fiery blasting aplenty in songs like “I, Bringer of Light,” but Rick also incorporates some combatant, tribal rhythms reminiscent of Vader, as heard on “The Fjord” and aforementioned “Crown.” Furthermore, the songs are written to incorporate their soaring strings at just the right moments, whether filling in when the guitars halt in the title track, or providing an eyebrow-raising piano melody and cinematic fight-to-the-death ending in closer “Alchemy of the Avatar.”

Necronomicon - 2016

Production wise, the DR varies from Satanica-level squashed for the main tracks to a 7 for the instrumental interludes, but fortunately, the guitars and symphonics remain extraordinarily distinct and well-balanced. The guitar tone is thick and commanding, the snare is snappy, and while the bass drums are a bit clicky, it actually fits the contemporary sound well. But sadly, while Advent is a good record which I enjoy front to back (even the whopping 4 instrumental interludes feel well-placed instead of superfluous), the amount of name-drops in this review betray its greatest flaw: this still feels like a generic blend of everything that’s dominated the scene for the last decade. For musicians who can clearly write decent songs and riffs, it’s frustrating that they allow themselves to wallow in the shadow of bigger bands rather than attempting to blaze any sort of original path. Additionally, Tremblay’s vocals – be it his off-the-shelf growl or occasional Nuclear Blast-approved croak – lack character. And while tempo differences between the songs make them distinct, a lack of rhythmic variation within the songs sometimes makes them a bit of slog, particularly on the title track.

Advent will not revolutionize your opinion of death metal. It will probably not make your year-end list or have you posting Necronomicon music videos on your friend’s Facebook wall (other than to laugh at the googly-eyed expressions of Tremblay in “The Time Is Now”). But for those looking for 40-ish minutes of well-executed symphonic death metal, you could do far worse than what these color-changing reptiles have to offer.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: |
Release Dates:
EU: 2016.03.18 | NA: 03.25.2016

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  • AngryMetalBird

    when I saw the title I thought for a second somebody resurrected that old German thrash outfit

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Love the face paint!

  • Matt slatz

    That face paint says “hey abbath, it s 3 on 1….better lose that face paint boy”

    • …I’m pretty sure that facepaint says “hey abbath can I get you a beer? Rub your feet? Carry your stuff? Touch your penis?”

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      “Hey look! We’re the Abbath triplets!”
      Or maybe the Three Abbath Stooges.

      • Matt slatz

        Abbath and Costello?

        • Matt slatz

          Matthew McDonough thinks that those guys were lazy with their face paint

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          And Who’s on third!

  • I miss the old time Germanic Necronomicon. Man they had some amazingly bad thrash!

    • AngryMetalBird

      True. they were also on my first metal tape ever that my cousin gave me. On side b was Sodoms persecution mania

      • Their self titled debut was so bad it was actually good and Dark Land has the absolute worse solo break in the history of music.

        • AngryMetalBird

          It was Dark Land. I lived in East Germany and metal wasn’t easy to come by. It was my only tape for quite a while. I suffered through that solo break a million times. Those were the days (happy they’re gone)

          • Cause he’s possessed by…..EVIL!!!!!

          • AngryMetalBird

            Oh God! No!! Please!!!

          • Hades In-WAY-sion!

          • AngryMetalBird

            silently weeps

          • Name’s Dalton

            Damn, man. I don’t know if people realize just how bleak things were on the other side of the wall.

          • eloli

            Mostly people who didn’t have to live in the other side of the wall back in the day.

          • eloli

            Communism sucked. What’s incredible is that a significant number of people in Latin America, at the same time, was actively trying to change to a communist regime. I should now, quite a few of them were relatives of mine, and always gave me a shitty time for falling into “shitty reactionary capitalist propaganda music” like heavy metal. :D

          • [not a Dr]

            The issue never seemed to be capitalism or communism: human nature will pervert any system.
            As long as people want to take advantage of one another, no system will be able to prevent injustice.

          • eloli

            True, but at least capitalism acknowledges that fact. Also, rock music (and heavy metal by extension) is a direct result of capitalism, so there, fuck communism simply for being a system in which rock music would’ve never happened. :D

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          I now need to listen to this album!
          This could be one you and Al look at in your Teutonic Thrash scene retrospective piece…

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            I listened to that “Dark Land” song. Imagine if Destruction and The Shaggs had a lovechild and said lovechild was a band… it would be Germany’s Necronomicon.

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            haha thats a great description

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            They certainly have that sort of inept charm.

  • Tom Hardy

    Their best album is the follow up to their debut, which I’d probably rank as their second best considering the time it came out. There were riffs here and there which they haven’t really come out of the shadow of. It’s like listening to them play parts of the same song in different albums over time. That embedded track sounds lazy. Skip skiPITY skip. What do you think Mark (Zuckerberg in disguise)?

    • Mark Z

      Shoot, my identity’s been compromised!

      Actually to be honest this is the first of their albums I’ve listened to in full. After hearing “The Time is Now” years ago I felt no impulse to explore further at the time but was curious to listen to this when I saw it. I’ll definitely have to check their second album out, thanks for the tip!

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    The voice on the embedded track reminded me quite a bit of Vader’s Peter. Which is a good thing.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Ah! Necronomicon! Now I remember them! They were once called a “JNCO-clad Behemoth clone” by some guy at Last Rites. The video that got them such… ahem… acclaim wasn’t good but their music is not bad (it is not original either, but it’s not bad). And I would say their style hasn’t changed much. It’s slightly Blackened Death Metal done profficiently. I like to say that sometimes it’s not about reinventing the wheel but about keeping it rolling and this seems to be one of those cases.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    These guys are way too sinister looking for Canadians.

    “So, you’re the guy who………..stole our Timbits?”

    • Matt slatz

      Don’t call the Mounties on us …ay!

    • Oscar Albretsen

      Picturing all three of them, fully painted, singing “Oh Canada” at a Montreal Canadiens game.

  • Felchmeister666

    Jesus, metal fans are so easily satisfied these days..