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Necromantia is something of an underground favorite. Definitely not something for every metal fan, their music often transcends the conventions of metal, blending orchestral arrangements with eerie sound-bytes and odd instrumentation (they're the only black metal band I know of to successfully implement a saxophone on one of their older albums). As if that weren't enough, their unique brand of Hellenic blackened heavy metal is dominated by two bass guitars - an 8-string and a regular electric bass - usually without the help of a traditional electric guitar.
On their most recent full-length, The sound of Lucifer storming Heaven (2007), the songwriting is probably not as "out there" as on, for example, their classic split with comrades Varathron, Black Arts Lead to Everlasting Sins. These songs are mostly cyclic, with a traditional verse and chorus, and split in half by an interlude. If you just look at the bass riffs, it's almost like hearing a Mediterranean version of old Manowar - simple but melodic neoclassical heavy metal - exclusively in minor keys.
These songs have a pleasant knack for dynamic and broad display of emotion, doubling back on themselves and presenting old music in a new light. Also worth noting are that the orchestral arrangements have improved, and the band's prodigious compositional abilities allow them to easily live up to their self-donned title of "black aristocratic metal." This ideal is further supplemented by the feature of the writing of French novelist J.K. Huysmans in the lyrics to the last track (in the past, Necromantia sampled Charles Baudelaire).
True, this work is on the surface diverse, but it's all tied together by the solid, tried-and-true structures provided by the rhythm section. Production-wise, it's relatively thick, so this may take one or two listens before one acclimatizes to the sound.
Overall, this album is highly enjoyable, being simplistically heavy and intellectually stimulating simultaneously. Necromantia is a band dedicated to their dark art, and The sound of Lucifer storming Heaven is no exception to the fastidious standards set by their earlier material. If you liked any of the old stuff, this one should fit right in to your collection.
(Originally written for http://www.examiner.com/x-20872-LA-Metal-Music-Examiner)