Apparently being ‘necro’ is a big thing right now. Necrophobic and Necropanther have new albums out this month, and the redundantly-titled Necrodeath are releasing a new record in March. With all that death piling up, where do Necrosexual squeeze themselves in? On the greasy avenue of primitive blackened thrash, of course. Formed in 2011 by vocalist/bassist ‘The Necrosexual’1, this Philadelphia trio have remained relatively quiet for most of their existence, other than playing a few scattered shows and displaying a bizarre affinity for boxed wine. Grim 1 is the band’s self-released debut, and it’s every bit as goofy as you’d expect from an album whose artwork looks like an MS Paint explosion caused by the trver cousin of Metalocalypses’s Dr. Rockzo. But will it satisfy that feeling for necrosexual healing?
Don’t get your hopes up. If you’ve ever wondered what a rawer and more blackened version of Ghoul would sound like fronted by a snottier and less commanding Tom G. Warrior, I’d first tell you that’s an oddly specific thing to wonder, and I’d next tell you the result is probably more disappointing than you’d imagine. Sure, on the surface there’s nothing wrong with Necrosexual’s formula: take early Celtic Frost, add a bit of tongue-in-cheek grimness, throw in some hard rock swagger, and presto! – you have something that should be the delight of fun-loving metal nerds everywhere.
The problem lies in the execution. Even though Grim 1 is only 31 minutes, this record is the epitome of amateur hour. Take Necro’s aforementioned vocals, which – when not sounding like Warrior’s rebellious teenage son – ape King Diamond with obnoxious falsettos. I guess his unpolished performance is part of the joke, but it often ends up sloppy and distracting. This feeling extends to the instrumental performances, with most of these 9 tracks barreling along on a handful of largely forgettable riffs. Early tracks like “Necrosexual Encounter” and “The Lair Where No Light Enters” are some of the worst offenders, consisting of clunky chords and bumbling tempos with a few bits of generic frostbitten blasting shoehorned in to show you that they, too, have heard of black metal. Other than the repeated vocal motifs, there’s little that’s memorable about these or many of the other songs here.
The roughshod production doesn’t help, wavering slightly from track to track but remaining pretty flat and anemic. Likewise the guitar tone is washy and impotent, the snare sounds wooden, and the whole thing has a ‘raw’ quality that feels annoyingly deliberate. Still, the dynamic range isn’t bad, and later tracks do feature some surprisingly decent riffs. The ‘reptilian humanoid’-themed “Trust No One” takes a break midway through for a delightfully sleazy biker bar riff that evokes Gehennah in the best way possible, while penultimate track “Bottomless Pit” recalls early Metallica with its cleanly picked intro before settling into a bobbing thrash verse that’ll make your inner Toxic Holocaust fan take note. But perhaps the finest moment comes in closer “Dead Sexy,” an Exciter-style speed metal cut that actually uses the band’s amateur style to great effect.
That said, while I appreciate the band’s spirit, I can’t help but be annoyed by the record’s sloppy execution, nor shake the feeling that the target audience seems to be the same people who once listed Dethalbum II as the best metal album of 2009. Is Grim 1 fun? Maybe, but so is singing along to Coheed and Cambria while I’m stuck in traffic on I-10, and I guarantee you no one wants to listen to that for half an hour. While not a total abomination, Grim 1 simply exerts too little effort to be the endearing, comedic, self-aware good time it wants to be. Rather than winning me over with its seedy charm, Necrosexual have instead produced something that would make even dead girls say no.