Neck Cemetery – Born in a Coffin Review

Hello, neighbor. Would you like to play a game with me? Yes? How about the “guess the genre” game. You know, the one where you look at an album’s cover to see if you can predict what it will sound like? How about we start with the band name? Neck Cemetery. Yikes. That’s a bad name. But it makes me think we’re dealing with some third-rate thrash, and I feel like the font used supports this hunch. Ok, what’s next? Album title: Born in a Coffin. Well, this seems to point to third-rate death metal. Let’s take a look at the art. Wait, is that an Asphyx patch on the decapitated skeleton’s battle vest? Well now, maybe this is some sort of death/doom. I have to admit, I’m really at a loss here. I have no idea what this is going to sound like, but if I had to make a guess, I’d say we’re about to hear some sort of third-rate thrashened death/doom hybrid. Let’s see how I did.

God, I suck at this game. This isn’t anywhere near third-rate thrashened death/doom. Germany’s Neck Cemetery play the trvest form of heavy metal, and the results are second-rate at worst and first-rate at best. Channeling the riff-centric US traditional metal of Manowar and Sanctuary, Born in a Coffin is eight tracks and 39 minutes of classic metal anthemry. After a fun 80s instrumental intro, the record begins in earnest on embedded single, “King of the Dead.” An epic Judas Priest-style beginning gives way to a mostly mid-paced ode to some sort of nocturnal, frosty necromancer monarch. Jens Peters has a voice that uncannily resembles Eric Adams or a young Warrel Dane — I honestly had never realized how similar those two iconic voices were until another review I did this year — but without any of their stratospheric screams. A volley of hail!’s heralds the absolutely infectious chorus, and suddenly I’m wondering how a band named Neck Cemetery can make music this good.

And “King of the Dead” isn’t an anomaly. There are several tracks here that had me shaking my head and saying, “Damn, this is good!” “Castle of Fear” uses a Running Wild tremolo riff to add some frantic melody to another killer chorus, and “Banging in the Grave” honestly sounds like it could be a long lost Manowar classic. The latter has some funky, growly vocals that I’m not a huge fan of, but I’ll be damned if the Priest riffing and absolutely lethal chorus don’t have my neck making peace with its maker on every single listen. Penultimate track “The Creed” adds some thrash to the mix and lands as one of the best true metal tunes of the year, while closing war anthem “Sisters of Battle” takes Manowar to school, teaching them that true fantasy women are ironclad warriors, not pleasure slaves. Get with the times, Manowar!

A few issues hold me back from fully gushing all over this release. “The Fall of a Realm” is a little too plodding for my taste, and “Feed the Night” feels rather pedestrian despite a crushing intro. Neither song is bad, but they certainly interrupt the sense of momentum that the album’s stronger tracks produce. Some of the lyrics move beyond “awesomely cheesy” and into “painfully cheesy” territory, gimping the potential impact of a couple of the songs. The production captures the youthful energy of Neck Cemetery’s music, allowing the guitars from Boris Dräger and Yorck Segatz (Sodom) to crunch and crunch mightily. This guitar duo has an incredible sense of groove, and their performances really sell album highlights like “King of the Dead,” “Castle of Fear,” “Banging in the Grave,” and “The Creed.”

Neck Cemetery. I hate the name, but kinda love the music. Born in a Coffin has enough flaws to keep it out of “very good” or “great” territory, but to call it “good” is no hyperbole. I was shocked by the young band’s ability to craft memorable traditional metal songs, and I only see them improving with time. I’m guessing a name change is too much to ask for, but I eagerly await a followup, regardless of the name on its cover.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Reaper Entertainment
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 9th, 2020

« »