Some say 42 minutes is the optimal album length. Others may say 50. Some an hour, some half an hour. But rarely does a person declare 112 minutes as being the optimal album length. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I’ve got a sweet 112-minute triple album for you here. Oh boy. Doc Grier is still wallowing in astral misery following his review of Midnight Odyssey’s two hour plus Shards of Silver Fade. He sits in the corner of the staff room muttering cosmological gibberish into an empty Carl Sagan mug. Grymm meanders in circles and wears a heavy cloak as he recites dark poetry influenced by his review of Cultes Des Ghoules 100-minute blackened-opera Coven, or Evil Ways Instead of Love. Steel is still lost somewhere between Songs From the North II and Songs From The North III: we hope for his swift return. Now it’s my turn — a rite of passage. This is Necros Christos‘ final release; they’re calling it quits after Domedon‘s release. So, why not churn out everything they’ve got stored on their hard drive while the iron’s still hot?
Domedon Doxomedon is the German’s “third” album, but really it’s their third, fourth, and fifth in one. The album’s split into three platters, unified by the nine “gates” and “temples” that a listener travels through, a “gateway to truly diving spheres” as the band modestly put it. These gates and temples are short interludes, mostly instrumental, that range from one-minute to three-minutes long. A long, blackened death voyage awaits once the mysteries of the temple are uncovered. Essentially, the album comes in threes with an epic 10+ minute track being bookended by a “temple” and “gate.” Take away the interludes and you’ve still got 83 minutes of similar sounding blackened-death metal. Phew. For the sake of this review, I’m largely going to neglect to discuss the interludes (but not all) — these are often formless and lacking in diversity, sounding too similar and becoming too repetitive to really enhance the flavorsome “metal” moments of this album.
Now, to the music. Take sprinklings of Morbid Angel, Carcass, Necrophagia and Candlemass and filter it through a cryptic biblical world and you’ve got Necros Christos. When they’re grooving, layering, and stringing riffs with a playful mix of ’90’s death metal, doom, and progressive metal you’re in for an absolute treat. Take the 12-minute “Seven Altars Burn in Sin” that opens with sullen and crushing doom tones before moving into lick-heavy mid-paced grooves that fan the flames of the burning altar. A reflective mid-song lull parts the burning sea, releasing a grand melodic solo of Kirk Hammett-esque finger-flicking proportions. When songs unravel and mutate — one positive of some of these longer tracks — Necros Christos are at their best.
Their more intense, technical ventures into progressive realms serve them much better. Unfortunately, one must wade through the fire and brimstone of a thousand labyrinthine temples and gates to secure the glimmering gold prize. “The Heart of King Solomon in Sorcery” opens with an urgency much needed, and regrettably much lacking, in this album(s). Technical licks and the melodic spurts writhe between Mors Dalos Ra’s deep guttural shouts and growls that carry through the tracks like an omniscient demon. Heavy Morbid Angel-isms are present here, but they’re swept to one side by an inferno of progressive solos that caper through the song with a bluesy edge akin to Heartwork-era Carcass. As with most of the album, the song is three or four minutes too long, trailing out flatly.
One thing that stands out is the excellent sounding production. Tracks have such great clarity whilst retaining a crunching, powerful edge. The superb chainsaw shimmer of “Exiled in Transformation” is accompanied by a plodding, heavy-footed dueling groove that is intensified by the clarity and depth of the production. The pinch-harmonics, rumbling blasts, and eerie choral breakthroughs combine excellently to end the song, and – at seven minutes – it ends swiftly and without lingering like a mystical fart. 13-minute closer “In Meditation On The Death Of Christ” is an Immolation-esque track that rumbles menacingly, shooting between sharp, jutting moments of death metal and the crunching repetitiveness of doom. Unfortunately, as is common, the song meanders for too long, losing its potency.
The album is so much more focused without the interludes. Yes, removing these completely discards the admirable narrative the band has created, but the album works without them. However, despite more than a few brilliant and creative moments, Domedon is too repetitive and too long to succeed as a unified album. There’s little in the way of differentiation between Temple One and Temple Nine musically. Conceptually and lyrically this may be true, but these elements will always come second to the quality of the music on offer. Because of this, I feel that I can’t give a high score, but don’t let the score put you off. This is one of those albums that doesn’t sit well in any category.