There in the 666th circle of Hell, where the goat vomit is knee-deep and the blast beats rage like wildfire, Archgoat sit atop their primal throne. “Why can’t more bestial blackened death be like this?” I thought to myself when Finland’s Most Brutal released The Luciferian Crown a little over a year ago. The band’s trademark combination of fast, hellish chords and slow, surging riffs was buttressed by lock-tight drumming and a production job that eschewed cacophony in favor of letting the guitars ring clearly in all their Satanic glory. The album begat a futile search for similar blackened death bands, and while I’ve certainly found many that have piqued my interest, few do it the way Archgoat does it. Fortunately, Portuguese trio Necrobode apparently heard my prayers and answered them with their Sob o Feitiço do Necrobode debut. Unfortunately, while this certainly scratched an itch, they still have a ways to go before they usurp their primary influence.
That Archgoat is their primary influence is practically indisputable—hell, the English translation of the band’s name is “Necrogoat.” Likewise, opener “Tumba Universal” makes it clear right from the start, beginning with those slow surging riffs that sound just like Finland’s Goat Kings, before accelerating into faster chords and bringing it all together with an absolutely immense closing stomp. The second track “Santo Santuário do Ódio” largely continues in the same vein, albeit with a stormier feeling during its faster parts. As expected given the style, the drums seem most comfortable blasting up a storm, while the guitars conjure a bassy, downtuned hell that crushes the skulls of falses before they even have a chance to think about entry.
In short, Feitiço is exactly what you’d expect given the cover art and the fact that this is an Iron Bonehead release. And yet, upon repeat listens it’s hard not to find the material at least somewhat compelling. Despite the style, Necrobode‘s riffs are often surprisingly easy to discern and though they only use a handful of them per song, many cuts here still manage to keep things interesting. Early highlight “Satanás Governa” is powered by an oscillating tremolo line that moans like an animal in pain before reinventing this riff and throwing a wailing, uneasy lead beneath it. “Algol,” another early highlight, is a brief two-and-a-half-minute cut that slices apart its oppressive and slow opening with a winding tremolo that sounds like something from the early Morbid Angel playbook. Neither track is revolutionary, yet their effective construction and unique identity are enough to keep one engaged.
Sadly, this doesn’t always hold true for the rest of the album. “Culto da Intolerância” begins a string of several songs in the middle of the album that lacks slower moments or unique ideas and thus ends up sounding like a heftier version of generic 90s black metal. Likewise, despite their obvious aspirations, Necrobode lack the unearthly menace of Archgoat, which is at least partially due to the fact that the vocalist’s strained grunts don’t hit the same intimidating depths as Finland’s Hooved Overlords. Closer “Liturgica Profanação” is also a bit of a shrug-worthy sendoff. Rather than throwing in an intriguing curveball at the end, the track is nothing more than three minutes of choirs. In terms of production, Feitiço is again exactly what you’d expect, with a bassy, cavernous, and oppressive sound supplemented by cacophonous drumming and occasional bass guitar heard churning beneath it all.
Feitiço is hardly a bad album, and fans of bands like Demoncy or Finland’s Horned Masters are sure to find at least something to enjoy here—just take the surging riff that crops up in “Sangue da Virgem,” which sounds like it’s trying to aurally depict the feeling of being dragged off to a dungeon where some horrible beast awaits. Moments like these highlight that the band is likely capable of greater success in this little niche. It doesn’t bother me that Necrobode sound like Archgoat, but I do wish the two were a lot closer to each other in terms of quality. For now, Sob o Feitiço do Necrobode is a decent slab of bestial blackened death for fans of the style, but wholly inessential for everyone else.