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Necronomicon - Revenge Of The Beast (8,5/10) - Germany - 2009

Genre: Thrash Metal
Label: Xtreem Music
Playing time: 49:38
Band homepage: Necronomicon

Tracklist:

  1. Magic Forest
  2. Haunted
  3. Warfare
  4. Nightstalker
  5. On Pain Of Death
  6. Blood Sky
  7. Who Dies?
  8. Refugee
  9. Skull And Bone
  10. Commit Suicide
  11. War In The Cradle
  12. One Universe   

Those with fond memories of the original extreme genre that first showed its ugly face in the early 80s will no doubt remember the fine contributions made by its German adherents, whom were very much a part of influencing the later Death and Black Metal outbreaks of the early 90s. But often overshadowed by the prestige of the famed Teutonic trio is the rugged powerhouse of speed injected Thrash Metal NECRONOMICON, particularly by the band that they are most often compared to DESTRUCTION. But there is more to make the former distinct from the latter today than the lack of an embarrassing display of misguided evolution in “The Least Successful Human Cannonball”.

 

“Revenge Of The Beast” marks the 25th anniversary of the band’s existence, and although only the forbidding voice and riffs of front man Freddy Fredrich remains of the original fold, you wouldn’t know it by how remarkably similar it sounds to the band’s renowned late 80s classics. There’s no getting stuck in a groove here, only the classic punk injected goodness of being caught in a mosh. Tempos are kept high, the songs are characteristically evil yet sincere trip into a realm of unspeakable horror, rather than the homeboy driven nonsense that many American thrashers can’t seem to pull themselves out of.

 

Enough can’t be said about the sheer goodness of each riff set heard on here, drawing up images from every great late 80s classic from “The Years Of Decay” to “Agent Orange”. Things kick off with a veritable iron boot to the face in “Magic Forest”, which lays out imagery of a terrified traveler stuck in a haunted place while the riffs blaze with the fury of a “Fight Fire With Fire” meets the atmosphere of “Game Over”. The bruising assault continues with a vengeance as “Haunted”, “Warfare”, “Nightstalker” and “On Pain Of Death” lay out slightly different variations on the same formula, pounding 3 or 4 signature riffs up against a battery of thrashing beats and a choir of agitated gang vocals.

 

Probably the only real flaw to be found here is that the album starts out largely striving to accomplish the all brutality, all the time formula of “Darkness Descends” and occasionally draws from a similar riff set just one too many times in a row, making one miss the changeover from one song to the next at a few points. But after the first half a little variety comes into play to compensate, at first with a Speed/Power Metal influenced riff set on “Who Dies?” that goes a little more in a “Painkiller” direction. Afterward enters a creepy Thrash half-ballad ode to misery in “Commit Suicide”, which features a clean guitar part that sounds halfway between a ghostly OVERKILL intro and DOKKEN’S “Dream Warriors”. Freddy’s vocals tend to maintain a sort of 2 dimensional affect here, going back and forth between his signature punk inspired shouts and an occultist chant while making really odd metaphors lyrically pagan imagery right out of a shaman ritual.

 

The question that will naturally follow is simple, which is better? Having a smaller discography and avoiding the embarrassment of trying to conform to the odd conventions of the 1990s as this band did, or trying to fit in during the decade of Metal’s return to the underground and failing pretty miserably in the process? If the answer is the former, NECRONOMICON stands as the flawless D’Artagnan that avoided the mistakes of the Teutonic 3 Musketeer, and thus perhaps worthy of a greater level of respect in some sense. “Revenge Of The Beast” is a worthy and consistent new addition to a brilliant discography of quasi-melodic, riff oriented thrashing goodness that would fare well against many of the albums of the late 80s. If you’ve owned and enjoyed anything from DESTRUCTION’S work with Schmier at the helm, this will definitely sit well with you.

(Online March 6, 2010)

Jonathan Smith



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