NECRODEATH have been around now since 1985, and are one of those bands who in their day were hugely influential, and in their initial incarnation released two of the most important and criminally overlooked albums the Italian metal scene has ever seen. “Into the Macabre” and “Fragments of Insanity” were, and still are both essential first wave Black/Thrash albums that stand easily toe to toe with the rest of the genre’s forerunners at the time. Yet to this day, ask 90% of Extreme Metal fans have they heard of them you’ll be met by a majority of blank faces. Then after a number of line-up and label problems, they just appeared to vanish.
So fast forward ten years and they’re back together, this time with OPERA IX drummer Flegias at the helm. I have to admit, other than their seminal first two albums, I had no idea they still existed until recently, but being the huge OPERA IX fan it was only obligatory I checked them out again. First impressions are that while notably different from their ‘classic’ material, that this contains some exceptionally good stuff.
Of course it was going to sound different, name me any one of the vintage Thrash bands who sounds the exact same now as they did twenty to thirty years ago? Almost none, it is to an extent almost to be expected, but where the likes of KREATOR, SLAYER and EXODUS are releasing lethargic, sterile trend hopping crap which screams ‘mid-life crisis’, NECRODEATH have managed to come up with something altogether fresh and modern and refuse to get caught in that trap of a band sounding as though they’re desperately trying to claw back those lost years.
“Idiosyncrasy” as their latest release is titled is now their tenth album comprised of one song without a break split up into seven parts. Initially the alarm bells started ringing, this is something many bands have tried but rarely ever succeed at, but appears to be working to an extent here. There are a lot of different elements and influences at work; the guitar tone is crisp, modern and almost Death Metallish at times, varying from dense crunching Thrash riffs to sharp and flailing lead work. Flegias’ vocals appear to be some sort of hybrid between a high pitched Black Metal shriek and Mille Petrozza from back when he could actually sing.
The frequent transitions between the slow, brooding bassy passages and the faster blast and flail sections knit together fairly well and are more than slightly reminiscent of SLAYER on “Seasons in the Abyss”. The frequent tempo fluctuations and overall dynamic approach to their song writing leave “Idiosyncrasy” an unpredictable listen, so much so at times it was more jarring to listen to than anything else, there’s not enough continuity of cohesion for it to stick. It also does tend to get caught up a little too heavy in the ‘groove’ end of the spectrum at times, something I’m not too favourable about, but it’s infrequent enough not to be a big problem.
In short “Idiosyncrasy” is a more than respectable release, ok so it doesn’t hold a candle to the early stuff but that’s almost a different era now. If glossy and modern Thrash is your thing then you might well find something here. Traditionalists may not be quite as enamoured with it, but I certainly found their brand of Prog tinged Thrash more listenable than some of the more famous names still toiling away.
(Online April 22, 2012)