More swedish death? Hey, at least it’s not more re-thrash, right? But hold your horses, this isn’t yet another Dismementombed clone, no siree! On this, their second album, Necrovation have gone with a truly democratic, melting pot ethos and given a home to all the huddled masses of extreme music. Sure, they sport a variation on the Nihilist/Entombed sound, but they throw so many influences and genres into this insane but hearty death metal stew, you really never know what’s coming next or when the next size 12 Doc Martin will drop. There are traces of black metal, doom metal, NWOBHM, hard rock, post rock and even cock rock as these songs explode, reform and explode again. Not only do they keep you guessing with the influences, but they also show a startlingly adept hand at pacing, dynamics and dramatics through the body of the songs. These are not linear, predictable death metal tunes. Necrovation takes chances and tries new things as they cut and paste pieces, ideas and concepts together that you wouldn’t expect to work (they do though!). All the while they display a musicality and technical proficiency that took me quite off guard. These guys can write and they can fucking play! This is such a clusterfuck of ideas and concepts, words are not going to give a real sense of what this beast sounds like, so regardless of what my impressions are, you should hear this thing for yourself.
The crazy lab experiments kick off in a jaw dropping way with “Necrovorous Insurrection,” which begins as a typically nasty, crusty slice of Swede Death with vocals croaked from the grave and jangled, crazy riffing. But after a very catchy solo and some standard issue blasts, things start to get weird. A noticeable rock vibe worms its way in and the guitars take on riff patterns more common to a ’70s retro doom album before switching over to a style right off Enslaved‘s Vertebrae opus. By 3:04 they drop a transition and solo that could have been on King Diamond’s Abigail before ripping back into blasty death. Confusing? No, because it all flows seamlessly and makes sense somehow. “Dark Lead Dead” continues the fun with Incantation-like sludgy death with more retro-doom flourishes that remind of the recent Occultation and Castle material. At 3:23 it makes a stark shift toward black metal and epic trem riffery and ever so briefly flirts with Agalloch style post-rock. Can you say convoluted? So can they. Again though, it all flows and makes sense.
There’s some nicely creepy, grinding doom during “Pulse of Towering Madness” with thick, crunching riffs and more retro-doom flavor to the guitar flourishes. The personal highlight for me comes with the Darkthrone meets Celtic Frost rowdiness of “Sepulchreal.” This is some seriously dirty, ugly stuff that rumbles along like the biggest skull tank of them all (yes, even bigger than Korgull the Exterminator). The blackened, doomy riffing is top flight, the solos are chaotic and the mood is bleak and dark. Good stuff!
Some tracks like “Commander of Remains” and “New Depths” go for a more direct death metal ass whipping with fewer torques and contortions, but even these are spiced up by some hugely melodic solos (check out the absolutely beautiful solo at 2:35 of “New Depths” for sheer impressitude) and tempo changes. Elsewhere, “Resurrectionist” charts a course through Saint Vitus-like doom but pairs it with wonderfully Celtic Frost-y sludge riffs and the result is brilliant. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the symphonic and orchestral oddity appropriately named “The Transition” and the haunting, shambling, Autopsy influenced lunacy of closer “Ill Mouth Madness (the Many)” (great guitar-work from start to finish).
This more than most albums, is a study in moods and atmosphere. The whole thing is draped in a raw, old school sound and delivery, but the music itself conveys a host of different vibes, from fear to depression and even hope. You get shellacked by oppressive death, only to be lifted up by an ethereal solo. Just as you regain your composure, the next bulldozer riff blindsides you and runs over your face. Welcome to the world of Nercrovation.
I would lay a lot of the accolades at the feet of lead guitarist Fredrick Almström. He shines on every song and some of his solos are amazing. Along with fellow guitarist Seb, he crafts a mind-boggling array of riffs spanning multiple genres and all of them are solid and tasty. Seb’s vocals are also quite fantastic. He has a nasty cackle and a gruesome croak and he changes things up enough to make it seem like he’s capable of more versatility than he really is. Kudos also go to the drumming of Bunger, who is asked to do a lot on this album and manages to keep the chaotic twists and turns going in the right direction.
This material requires a lot of spins to fully absorb everything they are doing, but it’s fairly accessible on the first listen. Every time I play it, I’m more impressed and in awe of how crazy some of this stuff is. This is adventurous and daring death metal but somehow, I wouldn’t come close to calling it tech-death. It’s a totally different creature. Without a doubt, one of the most interesting and compelling releases this year, and I highly recommend checking this out. Crazy, crazy stuff, and a great cover to boot!