On the face of it, Marasmus‘ new outing, the superbly-monikered Necrotic Overlord, is a pretty run-of-the-mill slab of (admittedly brutal) death metal. But repeated listens reveal the album to have a heck of a lot going on just under the surface, making this one hell of an absorbing listen if you’re prepared to put in a bit of time on the album’s behalf.

As noted, at times this is ‘just’ a superbly executed meat n’potatoes dish of a record; Opening track Ectoplasmic Violation, for example, is about as straight up as it gets in 2021 for this kind of music. But even here the band bust out a superbly melodic guitar break, signalling that all is not as it seems in this band’s world. Likewise on the superb Pagan Orgies to Human Sacrifice, where all hell breaks loose early on, a fantastic trad metal riff emerges from the bubbling mire, throwing the listener off balance momentarily before normal service is resumed. It’s a nice touch and the band increase it’s effectiveness by not overplaying the trick too often.

Similarly there’s a little bit of keyboard embellishment at the end of the superb closing track Forsaken Graves of Infant Kings that snags the ear straight away. Hardened death metal enthusiasts might baulk at such an intrusion, suggesting it shouldn’t be there, and yet somehow it’s the making of the track, taking it to another level almost without thinking.

Needless to say, the musicianship throughout Necrotic Overlord is top drawer stuff; Ben Axel Harvey pulls off some stunning basswork throughout, whilst Brandon Culligan and Andrew Nagorski are certainly a formidable guitar partnership, forging some truly memorable riffs across all of the album’s ten tracks. Vocalist Devon Ferrara may not be called upon to do much other than apply a throat-based blowtorch to the ears, but my word he applies himself to the job in hand admirably, coming up with some truly bowel-rattling roars to counterpoint his default hoarse bellow. And drummer Trynt Kelly? the word inhuman – or, perhaps, more accurately superhuman – comes to mind.

Well worth a listen then, and I’m sure you’ll get as much out of Necrotic Overlord as I have over the fullness of listening time!

Necrotic Overlord releases on March 26th.