Phew. Nekromantheon! You so rarely hear this sort of thing done properly these days – the fusion of thrash, proto-death and black metal, that is – that when something does rise out of the mire and start having at you, all slavering lipped and wild of eye, that it actually takes a few listens to focus and, eventually, appreciate. Thus it was that, about mid way through my fifth or sixth listen to the gloriously fetid second track on this album, Seven Rulers of Fate (which in and of itself is a glorious mashup of Slayer, Possessed and Destruction), that the penny dropped.
Nekromantheon get it.
You don’t really need to ‘get it’ in 2021, as long as you’ve access to decent recording software and have a half-decent technique. But Norway’s Nekromantheon (that’s bassist/vocalist Sindre Solem, drummer Christian Holm and guitarist Arild Myren Torp to you) actually do. They understand just how visceral and, unlikely as it may seem, downright soulful this music can be when put in the right hands. The band recorded in analogue where possible and on soon-to-be-classic tracks like Neptune Descent that allegiance to the old ways really pays dividends. Arild plays his ‘arse’ off on this track (sorry), but Holm and Solem aren’t far behind, in the process kicking up a maelstromic storm of heavy metal thunder; not only is it utterly compelling, it is totally inspiring, making the listener think about springing off his or her doubtless comfy sofa and going back to the source to dig out a few old Exumer albums by way of comparison.
But not, mind, before you’ve immersed yourself in this album for a few hours. Scorched Death is a modern day thrash/speed metal classic; I’ve yet to hear anyone come close to this level of intensity and precision in 2021, and that’s saying something, as the start of the year saw a flurry of good quality thrash/death metal releases bubbling up to the surface around my ears. None of them had the benefit of roto toms, though. And even if they aren’t actually present here, the fact that the band actually went to the trouble of making it sound like they were using them (especially on the superb Dead Temples) actually counts for a lot. In my fevered brain at least.
There’s an awful lot of this kinda stuff around these days, much of it good and most of it, it seems, coming from South America; And these guys do actually have a bit of Latin insanity about them on the ripping thrash of Thanatos; But, in the cold light of day you have to note that none of the contenders are as yet in the same post code as Nekromantheon when it comes to sheer, heads-down metallic mayhem. More power to them!
The Visions of Trismegistos releases on April 30th.