Thursday, July 17, 2014

Necros Christos: "Nine Graves"

With their last album "Doom of the Occult"  the German four piece Necros Christos took the crown of emerging sub-genre called "occult death metal". If you are still shaky on what defines occult black metal, it seems to be a love of "Altars of Madness" and an addiction to re-verb. This creates a spooky cavernous sound with enough ambiance to support a few melodic solos.The word occult means hidden , so if they are hiding something in the caves of metal, the moniker works.

Their latest ep changes the rules , the only spooky are interludes proving not only do they love Morbid Angel, but they also own a few Dead Can Dance albums. The tomb raiding echo, is absent instead the band opts for a much rawer sound. The vocals sound more like black n roll era Darkthrone, lacking the low guttural gurgle. It is a give and take. The solos are still intact and their playing doesn't falter, however this is a much more straight forward sound. To the point I had to double check to see if this was the same band.

The more morbid leaks out slightly on "Va Koram Do Rex Satan". The warmer more organic production  throws off the sound that made their last album work so well. The lyric are more articulated and  add to the clearer structure of the songs. So if you were hooked on the darker more sprawling sound this might take some getting use to.

By the time I was adjusted to this more meat and potatoes approach, they pull out acoustic guitars and fall into an almost folk instrumental jam session. Unless you play guitar or need some background music for you next D&D campaign this seems like a waste of space on this already abbreviated release. They do come back stronger and darker on "Baptized By the Black Urine of the Deceased". With that song title how could they not. Production aside this is a return to what you want from these guys... densely dark death-metal.

The Morbid Angel and Incantation worship is firmly in check and these songs are largely posses with their own sense of identity. They close out this ep with the title track. It is tightly coiled with the riffs slithering around the drive of the double bass. The guitar balances out baring its teeth while holding down the melodic hooks. The bass is much lower in the mix than on "Doom of the Occult"giving the songs more of a Celtic Frost feel.

It is smartly written and deftly executed death metal. Their is more attention to detail than other bands of this ilk, time will tell if this grows on me. I'll give it a 7.5 out of 10, as for what this is it works well and fans of the more generic forms of death metal will eat this up. It is some hard black urine to swallow if you are hooked on their more occult sound. Though maybe this is what the occult sounds like since it was never defined.

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