I’m not an expert on black metal; in fact, I’m somewhat at an initiate level. While I’ve dug the occasional blackened affair like Axamenta, I’ve never had quite as much love for the kind of gritty, treble-laden, snare-abusing, hysterically-snarled theater that’s been hated by parents, loved by anti-establishment youths and mocked to varying degrees by just about everyone else. This makes for a difficult situation when the dumping grounds of December leave naught but black metal promos. Such is the life of a reviewer. But I still have ears, a heart, and a brain, so while the occasional context may escape me I can still tell the brilliance of a Vredehammer from the insipidness of an Uburen. With that established, Omnizide looms.
The album kicks off with church bells and military style snare rolls. “Himmelstrasse (330ft)” relies on the latter to drive its main riff, which is admittedly the strongest part of the track and is more effective than the verses at establishing an evil atmosphere. “Return of the Loving Dead,” which is sadly not a Nekromantix cover (that would have been hilarious,) tries to outdo the opener with a barrage of high-speed gurgling, tremolo picking, and snare abuse. A few times the pace subtly shifts between high and mid-tempo, but the track culminates with on a slower ending that feels more like running out of steam than finishing with an evil dirge. Slow often means heavier or more disconcerting, but here the necessary conviction just doesn’t come across.
This turns out to be a bit of a running issue throughout the album. Omnizide tries to create an evil atmosphere, which black metal is, of course, tailor-made for, but while the fast sections sound tolerable (though not particularly inspired) the slower sections sound rather numb and flat. Vocalist Nox (Craft) is committed enough to the malicious sound as he croaks with all the verve of a decrepit arch villain, but he does sound much better spitting his lyrics at high-speed compared to his zombified plodding on “Walls of Flesh” or the overlong “Devil in Me.” Such a lifelessness doesn’t enthuse the listener much, no matter how evil. There’re some decent riffs and rolling tremolos to be found, but they sound too tired to really catch on.
The most obvious cause would be the production, which I wouldn’t call bad in the context of the genre, but could be considered misguided. It’s not a high fidelity production, but it’s not the type of metal to expect that and at least it doesn’t sound like an old dying vacuum cleaner. The mix is more problematic, though, as the vocals and drums are too forward and the guitars, which contain the only discernible melody, are pushed back. Nox’s croaking doesn’t have the variety to carry the songs by himself, so it’s no wonder the faster sections where the drums get more use are the most exciting sections of the album. While I doubt the unenthusiastic demeanor of the band would be fixed with a more balanced mix, it can surely be said to exacerbate the problem.
In short, while NekroRegime is not a truly bad album, most of the tracks just don’t feel as lively as they should to be effective. They feel too tired and rote; it’s almost as if the band had already over-rehearsed and decided to do one last take and use that for the album. Obviously, the mostly mid-paced material would never crackle with blistering energy, but more engaging melodic work played with spirit and a more consistent evil atmosphere would have helped a lot in making the album a success. A hardcore black metal enthusiast might find something to like here, but this is not the kind of material that will make me don corpsepaint and slaughter a pig anytime soon.