The Necromancers Union – Flesh of the Dead Review

Of all the things Europe has begun to assimilate from across the ocean, Halloween is probably the best one. Though it’s not yet an official celebration, grassroots parties and events are springing up more and more every year. My fiancée and I, and a few of our friends, have taken to carving pumpkins and eating lots of candy as well, and why not? It’s one of the few holidays that still has an everything-goes quality, and doesn’t force you to either spend time with family or be a social outcast. Darkwave artist Daniel Belasco (Glass Apple Bonzai) clearly adores Halloween as well. The Necromancers Union debut, Flesh of the Dead, is a loving homage to the campy horror of yesteryear, stuffed with samples from numerous VHS classics. But just because it’s horror, does that mean it’s horrible?

No, it certainly isn’t, unless you hated Unto Others’ throwbacks to gothic post-punk. The Necromancers Union1 draws from similar sources, chiefly Sisters of Mercy, but adds a heaping helping of Danzig and Billy Idol on top. Flesh of the Dead may look rather gruesome with its skeletal black and white cover, the actual sound is clean as a whistle and greased up to the gills. Its heart pumps the 80’s with enough vigor to raise ABBA from the grave, recalling The Night Flight Orchestra for nothing but its sheer sparkly slickness. Yet this actually helps, rather than hinders, the Halloween factor of the album; it is deliberate carnival fare, leaning into campy humor with its tongue taking permanent residence in its cheek.

Such a ride needs hooks out the wazoo, and by and large, Belasco delivers. Opener “Flesh of the Dead” is still a little lukewarm in this regard, but follow-up “The Ghosts Inside You” has an excellent, addictive main riff and an absolutely enthralling chorus, replete with background “whaaaooooo”s and an inordinate amount of twinkling keyboards. “Into Darkness” ups the speed with an almost Sumerlands-like riff and a good build-up of ominosity,2 but the real pinnacle doesn’t come until “Clowns of Death” which pays homage to B-movie masterpiece Killer Klowns From Outer Space with oodles of theremin and lyrics befitting the hokiness of its inspiration: ‘I can’t sleep, the clowns will get me, you can’t hide from the clowns of death tonight!’

There’s few real weak tracks, and to point to the music’s simplicity and predictability would be to miss the point entirely. But there’s certainly lulls between the peaks, with “The Undead” and “Crossing the Line” the most notable. The former is a little overlong, and the latter shows that when Belasco’s vocals leave the comfort of the croon they lack the character and presence he shows throughout the rest of the album. During these lulls, the feeling creeps in that the album could have easily been carried up another level or two with a second pair of ears in the room. Simplicity is one thing, but the verses tend to play things a little too safe, using that overly familiar chugga-chugga a few times too often. Nonetheless, for a one-man debut, the cohesion and consistency are impressive, and Belasco’s command of such a wide array of instruments to bring his vision to life is remarkable. Going in blind, I could never have guessed it was a one-man band.

As 80’s as a disco ball wearing bell-bottoms, Flesh of the Dead is a fun and addictive little romp through the annals of hokey horror history. It’s easy to dismiss as sparkly Unto Others light, but originality is hardly the point in this style for either band. Rather, the shift in perspective and cohesive small-scale execution by the talented Belasco ensures his project is off to an enjoyable start, even if it leaves me wanting more of the highs that “The Ghosts Inside You” and “Clowns of Death” give me. Halloween is a few weeks in the past already, and The Necromancers Union missed that boat. Luckily, modern society is basically a 24/7 horror show, so there’s always time to spin Flesh of the Dead again.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Petrichor
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: November 19th, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. In a year of terrible band names, this is an absolute gem and a much-needed breath of fresh air.
  2. Shut up, Shakespeare invented words all the time!
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