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Necromantia is a band, which I think every black metal maniac must know and worship. Yes, you must, because this is one of the most unique, characteristic and genius bands that the scene has ever spawned. I always liked them more than all other Greek devil worshippers and even if the Scandinavian scene is my favourite, then this one band is also in my top favourites list. I truly worship all their early recordings, finishing off with the brilliant “IV: Malice”… Sadly, after this album I lost Necromantia from the sight for few years, so I have never been able to hear the stuff they released in the 2000’s. But finally I managed to get “The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven” album – not on vinyl, which I would love to have, as I collected all early Necromantia stuff on LP – but on CD, but it’s better this way than nothing. I had huge expectations towards this album and so, did Necromantia meet them? Well, not entirely.
But let’s clear all things out. I am not saying that “The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven” is bad album. No fuckin way! It is still damn cool, classic Necromantia stuff! One can recognize the band’s style from the first minute; style, which is so characteristic, so unique and also so influential and possessing. They always had their own style and sound; using two distorted bass guitars (one of which is 8 string bass!), instead of the typical guitars must force a special way of playing, special arrangements and finally also a special, exceptional sound. This way of playing was crafted already in the band’s early demos and then only perfected through the years. On “The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven” Necromantia still sounds like the same band, but obviously they have progressed a lot and on this album their music is first and foremost way more symphonic than in the old days. The classical, symphonic music must have influenced the band in a great way, so “The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven” is filled with orchestral keyboards, some quotes from the classical music (already in the opening, title, track you can hear one)… The song structures and arrangements are closer to the classical music than to black metal… a lot is going on in every song, the music is not as simple and it may not even be an easy listen, it does require few listening sessions if you want to comprehend everything and get devoured by these sounds... but in the end it all works. Maybe not with the best results in Necromantia history, but surely they didn’t go below the high level of quality, which was raised high already in the early 90’s.
I guess that the style of nowadays Necromantia can bring two reactions: first is the enjoyment, as the band really creates some brilliant and amazing songs. But two, would be that the style deprived Necromantia of that evil, occult and truly damn dark atmosphere, which was present on their early albums. Surely, the band still base the whole concept on the occultism, alchemy, Satanism and such, but if you listen to the early LPs such as “Scarlet Evil Witching Black” you just feel HIS presence, the atmosphere of this record is just possessing… “The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven” may not have that… It doesn’t mean it is a bad album, it is just slightly different. There is a collection of great songs, starting with the very classic Greek black metal anthem “Order of the Black Sphinx” and later going through some more excellent and memorable songs, of which I especially like such “For the Elder Magi: I - Eibon the Necromancer”, which also the fans of such Septic Flesh will like totally. Or listen to the genius of “Knights of the Black and White Eagle”! There is a lot going on in every track; orchestral parts have been mixed with some furious black metal, all played in the Necromantical way… keyboards are playing a huge role in the music and fill up the entire atmosphere in great way. Finally the vocals are mainly a typical shriek of the Magus Wampyr Daoloth (I do admit that on this LP not always they sound that good…), but here and there it is mixed with more choral, clean singing to underline the epic side of the music. All in all, Necromantia once more has provided us with a good album, which is so different to the majority of stuff, which is released nowadays. I cannot say that it is my favourite album of the band, it has many ups, but also some downs, but generally I think it truly is good effort. Such songs as ‘Knights of the Black and White Eagle” and “Les Litanies de Satan - Act II: From Hell “ are prove for Necromantia genius.
Praise to the mighty Eibon!
Standout tracks: “For the Elder Magi: I - Eibon the Necromancer”, “Knights of the Black and White Eagle”, “Les Litanies de Satan - Act II: From Hell”
Final rate: 70/100
Though the band has never issued a bad album, I must admit that I'm not a fan of the aesthetic sinkhole that Necromantia flung themselves into post-Scarlet Evil Witching Black. Where once the band shelled out for these diabolic, colorful covers that wonderfully mirrored their brutal and sadistic bass-symphonies, they seem to have dropped the ball with a series of bland, symbolic standards that felt like something any random underground act could spawn. Of course, once you actually start spinning the disc, you're treated to an appreciable act of occult, pounding madness, but admittedly, even the music upon The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven seems to lack the sinister luster of its predecessors.
The intro is a symphonic jumble of war samples, big orchestral keypads and forgettable riffs that don't really build much anticipation for the rest of the record, while "The Order of the Sphinx" is simply not one of the more memorable constructions of their career, a largely blasted piece with fairly mediocre riffing, grimy rasped vocals and blaring horns that don't really do the trick. Once you delve a little deeper into the heart, there are more varied and engaging pieces like "For the Elder Magi: I - Eibon the Necromancer" and the roiling, heavy metal charge of "Knights of the Black and White Eagle", but even at its most immersive and engrossing ("The Invisible Empire") the writing seems scattershot and unable to match the epics from the first two records. Granted, this is still much of what you pay for on a Necromantia effort, a merger of blasphemous bass and cheesy but fitting orchestration.
By this point, the novelty of the band's approach had worn thin, so the onus was on the the duo to use their unconventional instrumentation to write their bloody hearts out, which they just do not accomplish here. Where the older records (even IV: Malice) had excellent bass riffs and a creepy if campy atmosphere, this just feels like the same ingredients were mixed in a blender with no care as to the results. They were never a band high on production values, yet with the 90s fare, there was still an inescapable charm to each release. Here, it feels like Baron Blood and Magus Wampyr Daoloth were attempting to write something more chaotic and disjointed, but instead of transporting to a limbo of rituals and dark arts, they come off brash and churlish. The lyrics are more solid than the music. The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven isn't terrible, but it's the worst of their full-length albums, and a bit of a letdown after a seven year wait.
Necromantia’s newest album is slightly different than the Necromantia I know. The band has definitely tried to expand on a style on this album, which isn’t necessarily bad.
The band uses their awesome evil sounding basses and song arrangements throughout the album. The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven is quite riffy like a lot of Necromantia, but they are relying on they keys and extra orchestra stuff more than I expected. The album is kind of like Scarlet Evil Witching Black, but with more orchestra and keys and a orchestra breakdown in almost every song; moreover, the only difference is that the song writing is a bit lacking while trying to expand on the orchestra and keys. They tend to repeat a lot of the riffs that don’t really accomplish what they want. Usually the circular songwriting works very well with black metal because it makes the atmosphere and keeps the ideas together, but The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven seems to lose focus in the middle of some songs, which make the 41 minute album slightly tedious. The album definitely has the standard dark, Hellenic and sinister atmosphere, that Necromantia does so well but it just doesn’t capture it as well like Scarlet Evil Witching Black. The riffs in the album are catchy, the break downs are solid like in Scarlet Evil Witching Black, and the band can really does create and atmosphere; however, I do not ever see myself coming back to this album, like I constantly do with their early material.
I have been knocking the album during this review, mainly because I hold Necromantia so high in terms of black metal, but this album is quite solid. It is definitely an above average black metal album, with some bits that can be unfocused. Fans of Necromantia will enjoy the album through for a few listens, because Necromantia’s song arrangements are always interesting and intriguing. I doubt the album will catch repeat listens; however, I highly recommend at least a few listens.