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Ever listened to a Bach fugue and thought "Pfft, what a show-off." No? Because that's absurd. Ever looked at a Gustave Dore piece and thought "Pfft, what a canvas-and-brush wankerer." Yes? Skitter away and perish, insect.
Necrophagist graced the earth with an ingenious technical masterpiece. The album shows the incredible creativity and craftsmanship of the band. It is surprisingly melodic, often breaking into brilliant, sweet motifs. The drumming is fast, providing the driving force of the album. As expected of a technical death metal album, the rhythmic motifs are complex, spanning several notes. It is a richly textured album, one that took several listening sessions for me to truly appreciate. "Stabwound" exemplifies the brilliance of this album. The way it starts is hard to describe; the drums provide a steady beat while the rest of the instruments interject, forming an overarching melody that is achingly beautiful. This complex interplay then dissolves into a solo that engages your brain in one of the most gratifying musical experiences. "Epitaph" is composed almost entirely of brief, recurrent motifs, breaking once or twice into a slow passage.
The album is largely instrumental, with the vocals only notable for occasionally growling "Stabwound!" and "Stillborn", which, if you think about it, is really bizarre and hilarious. Most of the time you're lost in the heavily layered instruments, so the vocals are not that noticeable. Each track is considerably different from the others, such that the album is not simply one long, fragmented track. "Only ash remains", for example, ends in an uncharacteristic dirge-like passage. "Seven" begins with a fairly slow, recurrent, bass-heavy motif that has a light rhythmic percussion. No review can do this album justice, not even a tome that fills up half a shelf at your local library. It is a richly rewarding experience, a celebration of creativity and craftsmanship.
Even to those accustomed to Necrophagist via the previous 'Onset of Putrefaction', this album redefines what is humanly possible with a guitar. Rapidfire ultra-complex progressive grinding death metal is punctuated with slick sweeps, arpeggios and legato note flurries to pinpoint accuracy. Rich, expansive, fluidic, melodic neo-classical solos and fills are widespread, maintaining velocity through more subdued parts. This is trademark territory for the band's main man Muhammed Suicmez, but opting for a non-silicon-based drummer is not the only significant and positive change.
There are a number of areas in which 'Epitaph' is stronger than its predecessor. Overall, the tautness, clarity and aggression are phenomenally consistent in execution. The solid growling vocals are more impressive and in the early Sinister style. The bass guitar sounds more integral, although it retains its high frequency bias for those bubbling fills. The drum performance is imaginative and precise, with delightful purring kicks in spite of obvious triggering. There is a greater use of disjointed riffage, panning, dissonance and alteration of mood, together with some exciting polyrhythmic interplay between Suicmez and Muenzner (such as the symbiotic bending dirge and sombre majesty of Ignominious and Pale). The new recruits have risen to Suicmez's challenge, strengthening rather than stifling creativity.
From the blast-saturated Stabwound to the album highlight (Symbiotic in Theory with its Martyr style intro and astonishing spasms of violent dexterity) the listener is shellshocked by a precision-engineered battery of frequencies that are surprisingly tangible due to the clean-cut production; there is no need to cultivate an essence of darkness or evil, as the surgical aural assault triggers emotions at a more elemental level. Only The Stillborn One has moments of genuine ambience, with delicate sorrowful fluttering notes and its funereal syncopated crunching over out-of-phase drumming.
Guitar leads usually run riot over simpler mid-paced thrash or thick chord progressions. It would be interesting to hear leads backed by full velocity rhythmic backing, though perhaps it was decided that this would tip the music over the edge into incomprehensibility. Clarity is at the forefront of the band's requirements after all - they want all the detail to be heard and dissected. Brutality is in the eye of the beholder and 'Epitaph' is the closest we'll get to experiencing the winds of Saturn stripping the flesh clean from your bones!
[originally written for Diabolical Conquest webzine]
Those not sold on Necrophagist's game-altering debut Onset of Putrefaction probably won't think so highly of its inevitable follow-up Epitaph, but whether or not this really expands upon the ideas or musical prowess of its predecessor is immaterial: Muhammed Suiçmez made a lot of sound decisions for this which kept the formula fresh and relevant in an age when loads of bands were starting to exhibit the same impressive level of chops and performance, forcing technicality upwards and onwards. I myself do not break this one out nearly so much as the first album, but I certainly wouldn't have minded some if Muhammed were to somehow retroactively apply the efforts he went towards to grow the band to Onset's songwriting, and wouldn't find a lot of ground on which to argue with those who find this the superior of the two.
First and foremost, Epitaph is where Necrophagist became an actual band, or rather 're-emerged' as a band as it had been before the debut recording. The rhythm section was rounded out by an impressive trio of players, not the least among them guitarist Christian Muenzner and drummer Hannes Grossman, who would both also go on to impress in their other band Obscura (which I'll be covering more of after this one). They fit into Muhammed's musical vision as if it were there own, and naturally Epitaph benefits as a result. Having an actual drummer makes a major difference, even if Grossman arguably makes it all seem just as effortless as the programmed percussion. But I certainly thought the mix here made the snares and kicks stronger. In fact, despite the mechanical aptitude of each performance here, the entire production just feels warmer and more inviting, a mix of Arsis-style melodic death metal with the clinical pathos of brutal death...five years were not spent in vain. Stefan Fimmers (who would later go on to play in Pestilence) adds another level of fluency by weaving in bass-lines that aren't remotely as intimidated by the guitars as they might have felt when Muhammed played them himself out of necessity. While it's still the driving, deft melodies and rhythm guitars which compel and inform the listener through this, there is no longer that unevenness which knocked Onset down a few pegs.
Secondly, though there is a particular portion of Epitaph which feels like a mere retread of the prior album, just playing catch-up with a full roster of human band members, there are still minor nuances and picking techniques which are employed here differently than the debut. Necrophagist is generally about the details, though they're overt and easy to discern, and Suiçmez' well of ideas was clearly not depleted by this point, especially now that the bass is being contributed on a whole new level to support the flagrant surgical hammering of his note choices. Granted, we're talking maybe 15-25% of the content here, since so much does sound like a reflection of what had already been written in the 90s, but it did give hope that, should this have become a prolific entity with a more consistent recording catalog, there probably would have been some small degree of variation throughout. The leads here actually sacrifice a little fraction of their technique for more feeling, in some cases seeming like the easiest parts another musician would be able to pick up and play him/herself, and unlike what I might have expected, Epitaph's compositional level doesn't force itself so much further away from humanity...this is more stable, and at times, basic in structure.
However, as increasingly enticing as Necrophagist had grown by this album, there's enough material here which thrives off familiarity that I just never felt quite so impressed as the first time, and it's really only an album I break out alongside other bands like Cytotoxin, Beyond Creation or Arsis when I'm interested in hearing style over substance. Few tunes, if any here have the capacity to move one's spirit in any direction, beyond just satisfying his/her visceral response to the impressive, fluid instrumentation. Vocals are still quite average for the death metal medium, easily lost in a shuffle of other artists, and while these guys might be able to play a few circles around veterans like Suffocation and Incantation in terms of dexterity and technique alone, they lack the concrete brutality of the former and dissonant magnificence of the latter. In short, the Germans had become less distinct here than even the mechanical Onset, and that likely would have remained the case had they kept spewing out material through the 21st century. We've all been waiting a decade now for something new, but perhaps it really is better to have such a substantial hiatus if it means Suiçmez and company will have something more unusual and adventurous on offer once they reappear.
Necrophagist are undisputedly one of the largest if not the largest technical death metal bands in the world, and this is mostly due to this album and it's influence on technical death metal. Though Necrophagist hasn't released any new material in years this album still holds it's own against tech death giants such as Spawn of Possession and Obscura with it's unrelenting technicality and crushing riffs.
The guitar work is by far the most dominant and important aspect of the album with blazing riffs, technical licks and extremely interesting and unique guitar solos, the album has given the metal community some of the most memorable solos such as the one in Ignominious and Pale. The bass playing on the album is definitely adequate and at times spectacular but definitely doesn't have as many stand out moments like the guitar but in songs like Diminished to B the bass work is incredible. The drumming is sadly quite generic and is acceptable, it helps support the guitar interplay but it doesn't have many moments of brilliance, the drums are unrelenting and unforgiving.
One of the defining qualities of the albums atmosphere are definitely the vocals. The vocal work by Muhammed is definitely very bland and shows little to no improve from his earlier releases but it helps give the listener a reminder that this a "brutal" record. He does deliver quite a few nice hooks and lyrical passages in the songs but most of the lyrics are rather unimpressive. His vocals are all in all adequate.
Some have said that this album is technical for the sake of being technical but I disagree, I think it helps tie the brilliant song writing and guitar skills of Muhammed and Christian together into a brutal neo-classical influenced metal. This is a staple in technical death metal and is a clear influence on modern tech death.
I recommend this album to all budding death metal fans.
Necrophagist are a band that has garnered themselves quite the fan base and success that many bands in the technical death metal genre would kill to enjoy since their inception. They have put out two studio releases and are renowned for being among the most viciously complex, savagely technical acts in existence, fronted by perhaps one of the most gifted guitar players of all time. Whilst there are certain bands that would claim the metal tag such as Bullet For My Valentine that scatter various dull and uninspired riffs and pointless solos across their breakdown-infested songs, some groups of men such as Necrophagist are ensuring that the banner will continue to fly for pure metal acts. Epitaph is the second of their two-album run and is even better than their debut.
Whereas on their first studio album this act was just one man in Muhammad, they are now a fully fledged band boasting a bassist, a second guitar player and a drummer, whilst the aforementioned one member on their debut continues to perform guitar and vocals. This band does not have a clear divide of who is lead and who is rhythm guitarist as they are both supremely talented and frequently play hyper-technical guitar solos involving legato tapped passages and often involving a lot of cleanly played sweep picking to great effect. On the rhythm side of things, the band creates some of the most incredible sounding musical mayhem in all of technical death metal. Their riffs are as flooded with sweeps and other interesting techniques as the solos, often relying on a lot of notes played at ridiculous tempos and dancing between strings in the blink of an eye, and it works really well. The band's biggest hit to date, StabWound, kicks the album off in this manner with a riff that involves alternating between two notes and then leaping between strings, and the album does not get any less intense from there onward.
The song structures here are quite creative at times, such as on Only Ash Remains and The Stillborn One. The latter of these two songs in particular shows off some really creative drumming from the maniac behind the kit, who also shows a large amount of skill with his quick cymbal rolls and ridiculously quick blast beats. The latter of these two songs opens up with a lot of pinched harmonics making for a sinister, cruel-sounding backdrop that is fairly tame in terms of technicality by their standards, but by the two minute mark it absolutely explodes into a frenzy of ridiculously quick riffing. How the bassist keeps up with the ensuing mayhem on this release is beyond me, but he somehow pulls it off on tracks like Diminished To Be, also scattering bass solos on multiple tracks here. The bass parts are no less challenging for an aspiring player as any other instrument on this release, and they are just as fitting for it as the other instruments.
Epitaph is an incredibly well-paced display of some of the finest technical death metal out there. From start to finish, this delivers nothing less than sheer musical chaos only slightly let down by some insipid lyrics that just feel too lazily crafted. Aside from that, this is an album that I highly recommend to any fan of death metal in general.
Amid the ever expanding field of bands trying to one-up Suffocation/Cryptopsy in the tech./brutal department is a formerly up and coming turned hiatus ridden outfit from Germany known as Necrophagist. Dating back to the early 1990s, where this approach to death metal was more or less unheard of, one can't help but give a certain leeway to this band given that they were onto something that was considerably fresh and new, before it had been adopted by the likes of Arsis, Decrepit Birth or Braindrill. Then again, circa 2004 when their mixed reaction garnering sophomore effort "Epitaph" was put out, the notion of gratuitous guitar shredding, high octane blast and thrash beats meshed with a garbled growling style inspired by Frank Mullen was becoming quite commonplace. So the first question that one might ask is, does this album manage to stand tall amongst a crowded field?
The answer is sort of, as the intended goal of this approach to metallic fury tends to focus more on impact and impressing shred enthusiasts, rather than putting forth something that is easily recalled. In much the same respect as the quirky, progressive character exhibited by Decrepit Birth and, to a similar extent, death/thrashers Revocation, "Epitaph" functions through the lens of frequent variation, shifting tempo and feel quite often, to the point of sounding the same throughout to the average ear. Differentiation between parts doesn't really function between songs, in spite of their relatively short lengths, but through contrasting sections within songs and how they might differ from that of another song during a similar section. A longer song such as "The Stillborn One" differs from a shorter number like "Stabwound" more in how long it takes to get down to the blast sections, but they generally always occur at a very similar tempo and usually keep going for an extended, albeit indeterminate amount of time.
Indeed, this approach to varied parts depending on length of song actually works to an extent in differentiating things, but it tends to accomplish this while still losing the listener in a sea of technical showboating. In much the same respect as the widely hailed Cryptopsy, longer songs will usually entail a greater amount of guitar shredding or technically impressive bass fills rather than compelling melodic development. To be clear, songs such as "Ignominious & Pale" and "Diminished To B" are not devoid of melodic content, but the ideas tend to run together and are often so obscured by frequent and elaborate changes and variation. An occasional bridge or interlude section such as the Cynic-influenced jazz break at the end of "Only Ash Remains" will stick out in the memory (actually, this song can be seen as a standout in that the sheer amount of technical interchanges between bass and guitar lines outdoes the rest of the album), but largely this sails through the system in about the same time as a helping of pork fried rice would.
One redeeming factor about most albums that tend to go overboard in the showboating department is that they will tend to have one element of simplicity and constancy to hold it all together, and this is found in the vocal approach of Muhammed Suiçmez. In fairly similar fashion to the uniform barks of Corpsegrinder, and in contrast to the frequent shriek character change approach of Lord Worm that is exaggerated to the point of parody in many modern death metal bands, Muhammed's growls are punchy and constant, almost to the point of being monotone, which proves to be a welcome contrast to the barrage of ideas being thrown about by the instrumental elements. Unfortunately this doesn't fully make up for an approach to songwriting that is just a little too elaborate for its own good, and it becomes pretty easy to lose track of where one is in the album despite it being just barely over 30 minutes long.
This album is decent by standards of mid 2000s technical death metal, but it doesn't quite measure up to the brilliant early works out of Arsis. A would be virtuoso bassist or guitarist will be taken in by a lot of what is found on here, but this doesn't really have an irresistible appeal that would rope in most rank and file metal lovers looking for a good song to wreck their necks to, as the 8 different compositions found on here don't really function as songs, but more like demonstrations. Nevertheless, those seeking to be thrilled by sheer impact rather than by a cogent presentation will find something worth hearing.
Technical death metal is a sub-genre of death metal that could best be described as jazz on steroids with guttural vocals and blast beats. Many people will argue that TDM, in its attempt to display the amazing musical ability of the players,loses all the original grit and dirtiness of bands like autopsy and morbid angel. And instead replaces it with melodic solos full of sweep picked arpeggios and countless generic "technical" riffs.
With Atheist's jazzy style of play, Cynics progressive melodic style, and Death's use of top notch muscianship, Technical death metal started out as a serious offspring of DM. But then a band called Necrophagist comes along and releases "Epitaph", now all traces of good song writing and heart that the early TDM bands displayed have been thrown out and in its place an almost laughable display of over-the-top guitar heroics flaunted by muhammad suicmez. Now, i'm not going to deny that muhammad is an extraordinary guitar player and obviously has an immense amount of talent, which also is one necrophagists' main problems.
The overall weakness in this album, and the band as a whole is songwriting. All of the songs are technically ashtonishing, but its all just a cover up for this band's uncanny ability to avoid writing a coherrent enjoyable song. The ten songs that make up this album are interchangable and sound almost identical in structure, tempo, etc... It seems like all Muhammad wants to do is show off how good he is at guitar. Ok! we get it! you can play very fast and write complicated compositions, now how about showing some soul? There is no depth to any of the songs its all face value, it might sound cool at first but after two or three songs you might find yourself starting to get annoyed at the barrage of senseless notes. For those people who enjoy this type of flamboyant display of almost overpowering musicianship, necrophagist is a tdm fan's wet dream. Full of neo-classical malmsteen inspired solos and jazzy, head-spinning riffs, that are sure to satisfy the young kid who sits at guitar center all day practicing sweeps only to show off how good he is. This band is that kid personified.
Obviously, the main focus of the album is the guitar, but all the other components of the band are probably equally, if not, more annoying. Starting with the drums, which are nothing are more than a glorified metronome, so don't expect any jazz breaks or weird time signatures, because all they do blast without stopping for a breather. Next is the vocals, which are also done muhammad. Death metal vocals are supposed to be ferocious, scary, and unsettling, but what muhammad manages to acheive is more or less just a flat boring growl. They don't sound menacing, or mean, or even remotly aggressive, they sound just as cheesy as the rest of the band. Which isn't really a bad thing since vocals aren't really focused on much, they are more there to help remind us that this is a death metal band. Lyrically the band dabbles in nothing groundbreaking or thought provoking.Its mostly just bland uninspired pretentious bullshit. As a whole, the album would best be described as a big budget action movie, packed full of amazing special effects and explosions, but in terms of substance there is little to be found.
If there is any band that has inspired me to pick up an instrument and try and be a good player, it's Necrophagist. Ever since they provided my first foray into the world of technical metal in late 2007, they've never failed to astound me with their incredible ability to play their respective roles with their instruments. Of course, they did (and still do) have a few flaws, but they've always gotten to me in that special way that music was meant to.
Necrophagist's 2004 offering, "Epitaph", is a bit of a step up from their gore-themed, Carcass-inspired debut album "Onset Of Putrefaction." One of the name differences is utilizing more poetic, thought-inspiring lyrics as opposed to telling tales of horrible deaths and all sorts of perverted things with dead bodies. I like the lyrics because they make you think, and I personally can associate with some of them. Not only that, but some of them are just plain awesome in my opinion (for example; "One wishes existence to be of fulfillment, but leaves bend to the will of winds blowing", from the title track).
The music itself is, needless to say, incredibly technical and complex. Unfortunately, it can get very repetitive at some points (especially with the guitars and the chord-patterns in the riffs), but if you focus on the music, this flaw can easily be remedied. Despite the complexity and the repetitiveness of the music, however, it still has it's level of beauty and atmosphere to it, so it doesn't focus on showing off as opposed to writing a coherent and catchy song. Although some of the songs have fairly unorthodox structures ("The Stillbone One", for example, completely lacks repetition), there is still beauty to be found with this album.
Muhammed and Christian share solos on this album; sometimes they'll trade off leads, and sometimes only one guy does a solo in the song. The solos sound gracious and they create images in your head when combined with the backing instrument section. In fact, I'd go so far as to say Christian and Muhammed are two of my favorite guitarists of all time; not just because of speed, but because of their absolutely genius phrasing (see the solos in "Symbiotic in Theory" for an exmaple, with crushing power and feeling that puts you right into what the song is trying to portray).
Hannes Grossman plays probably the most underappreciated role on this album, with some VERY difficult drumming (namely doing blast-beats while hitting various other cymbals). Infact, one has to wonder why this guy doesn't get the attention he deserves. If there is anything, however, that certianly deserves attention, it is perhaps the defining part of this album; Steffan Fimmers and his complex yet atmospheric bass lines. His bass parts redefined death metal bass on this album, which used the bass as a lead instrument while the guitars play the rhythm parts. He even gets to show off what he can do on two parts of "Only Ash Remains" with some fairly difficult bass tapping.
Be aware, however; if you're one of those people who thinks death metal should sound distorted all of the time (especially in the guitar department) and completely lack clean priduction, you might not be one for this album. "Epitaph" has production that's cleaner than a G-rated Disney movie that has to do with sugar and spice and everything nice. But if the clean production doesn't bother you and you just want some decent techdeath, then I recommend this album to you by all means. Just be prepared to warm up to some guitar riffs that seem to be clones of eachother on every song.
Necrophagist is out of this dimension. I just picked up this cd having listened it previously in high school. It blew me away then, but most of the riffing went over my head. This was around the release of Annihilation of The Wicked and my band and I were in full Nile-worship mode. Annihilation was my shrine. Not only that, but my fellow guitarist had just introduced me to the inhuman technical leviathan which was the monster known as Decapitated. So Nile and Decapitated, in my mind, were the undisputed overlords of death metal.
One day in band practice, my vocalist comes running downstairs roaring at the top of his lungs, "Maggots! Prepare to meet your demise!" and trips down the last five stairs and breaks his nose on the way down. Nose bloodied and with the demonic blood lust of twelve hungry beholders in his eyes he staggers to the cd player and puts in some record called Epitaph. Don't worry, he had enough sanity to heal his nose with a level 5 casting ability, so he was fine for the show tomorrow.
We all listened to this album in its entirety, going ballistic every other riff. I mean, if you haven't heard these guys riff, you are missing out my friend, 'cause they're crazy. Extraterrestrial dexterity, mature musicianship that's accurate to a T, well-trained jazz tech death ability... the majority of this album is astounding. It's catchy on songs like Stabwound, Only Ash Remains, the latter half of Diminished to Be, Stillborn One, and Seven; it's mind-numbingly complex throughout, bordering on power metal in speed and upbeat tempo, yet it reeks of Decapitated and possibly Decrepit Birth/Severed Savior influence. Maybe I'm wrong on my sources, but however you put it, this is a monolith and a milestone for the entire metal genre.
Plus one of the guitarists is the vocalist. They look pretty young too, actually looking younger than JFAC when they first started, so that puts some perspective on the whole picture. My favorite track is probably Only Ash Remains simply because it is so well-orchestrated. The intro to the song is a wild scale played at such a tempo that I'm almost convinced that these guys were on every kind of stimulant and upper available on the global black market today. I swear these guys have had operations on their hands, joints, and tendons as well. Maybe I'm just a sub-par musician, but I never thought I'd ever hear anything close to the technical proficiency on Winds of Creation and these guys give the Polish gods a run for their money. Sounds like Dragon Force lost their egos and took a trip through the underworld.
Seven and Stabwound are catchy singles if you want a taste, meanwhile Only Ash Remains is a ballistic representation of the diverse musicianship of Necrophagist, including a hilarious closing riff and harmony that sounds like a combination of reggae and polka, or something that shows that they actually have a sense of humor about themselves. You'll understand when you hear it. However, I suggest you listen to the whole album. There's tiny room for improvement as far as songwriting is concerned, which is why Decapitated and Nile maintain god status unchecked and in the clear. I'd like to hear these guys incorporate different styles and influences. Right now there is a lot of monotony in their riffing, and a well thought out groove riff along the lines of the intro riff to Blessed (Winds of Creation) would do the trick. They've got a ways to go before being internationally recognized as true kings, but they have established themselves as worthy successors to the throne of metal.
This review was originally written for http://www.metalneverlies.com
Necrophagist is full of extremely talented musicians. Epitaph (2004) is proof of that. This album is full of amazing, truly magnificent music. I couldn't ask for better guitar playing, more brutal drums, or sicker bass lines. Every musician is in top form for this release. Something is missing though, there is one reason why I couldn't rate this CD better. Really the music itself is near flawless, yet the album is not near flawless. I'll explain more later, so let me cover the material a little bit first.
“Stabwound” is a pretty damn intense introductory track. If you listen closely, you can hear that drumsticks are actually on fire from how fast Hannes Grossmann is pounding on the drumset. The riffs are extremely technical, and the Muhammed take a seemingly philosophical approach to the lyrics this time around. The guitar solo is just crazy. The album continues with “Stillborn One” - a great track with another stunning guitar solo. The rest of the album is actually much of the same. It's all extremely talented music, but if you're listening to this CD for the first time you might notice how it just all runs together.
I said something earlier about this album missing something: It's missing passion, and innovation. To me, it seems as if Muhammed said to his band, “Alright guys, we are pretty much the best musicians in the world of Technical Death Metal, let's make this CD to show off and make people jealous of our playing abilities!” That's it: a good portion of the album is essentially crazy riffs and insane drumming with some brutal death growls on top. It's as if the band was too preoccupied with showing off to forget they were writing music.
Well, what I typed above was pretty harsh, as there are a few songs that are pretty awesome. I would recommend “Stabwound,” “Stillborn One.” “Only Ash Remains,” and “Symbiotic in Theory.” To anyone who wanted to get a good taste of what this band is capable of. Although Epitaph (2004) is full of amazing music, it unfortunately feels lifeless or forced at times. If Muhammed had spent a little less time trying to impress everyone, and used that time to work on his song writing, this release could've been a masterpiece.
p.s. The bass solo at the beginning of “Only Ash Remains” is SWEEET!
This album, although lesser than Necrophagist's debut full-length release "Onset of Putrefaction," is still a solid release. The songs are catchy and the riffs are extremely complex and very enjoyable to listen to.
The vocals are still the same deep Necrophagist growls that I look forward to in most all death metal releases. It has a rough rasp to it that really compliments the instruments that go along with the vocals.
The guitar, as expected from a Necrophagist release, is insane. It has a nice medium tone to it. By medium, I mean, it's not too crunchy, but it's not too thin and twangy either. It settles in the middle and helps compliment the tuning of the bass and the sounds of the drums and vocals. Also, I enjoyed the guitar solos more in "Epitaph" than I did in "Onset of Putrefaction."
The bass is extremely well balanced on this album. It is audible at close to all times, and it's tuned in a way that holds the tracks together by tying all the instruments together. The bass lines are complex and tickle the ears when heard. In fact, I enjoy some of the bass lines more than the actual guitar riffs on some of the tracks.
The drums are pretty tight and fast as hell. The beats are fun and catchy. I found myself tapping my foot to the beat many times during this album, so they are definitely doing something right with it. It's also refreshing to hear the drums doing something other than the repetitive double kick in every song.
Overall this album is pretty fuckin' solid, but just falls short of "Onset of Putrefaction." All the same, it is an album that can be thoroughly enjoyed more than once. If you are a fan of Necrophagist or any sort of Tech. Death, I would highly recommend picking up this release. You won't be sorry
I'd also like to add this disclaimer: Don't listen to the people who complain about this album being nothing more than "guitar wankery." It is expected that when you listen to an extremely technical death metal band, that there is going to be some crazy guitar riffs/solos. It seemed like a lot of reviews were bashing the album for being what a Tech. Death release should be.
Let me first start of by saying that I cannot play any of the stuff on this album. I will openly admit that I am not anything like Mohammed Suicmez at guitar, or any of his compatriots at anything else. I would like to admit that Suicmez is a fine guitar player and by writing this review I am not denying this in any way, so please don't start dismissing my review thinking that I'm oblivious to this fact, because I'm not. But judging by this album I really can't say the same for his musicianship or creativity.
To be honest, when I first listened to Epitaph, some year and a half ago, I was bewildered at it. I had never heard anything like it. I was astounded. It definitely surprised me. But it surprised me in the same way that a knee to the crotch would surprise me.
Plainly put, Epitaph is just too mechanical and boring to be listened to more than once. Everything is too planned and over-engineered to really convince you that "hey, these are some really talented guys". Let me walk you through what I believe is the production cycle for this album; it seems like Suicmez sat in a room for a week, got together about twenty different riffs then sat there constantly refining them over and over and bundled them together wherever he felt like it.
At this point, he got tired and bored. It's hard work for him, all this songwriting stuff. He missed doing stuff he actually enjoyed and wanted to do, so he skimped out a bit and wrote a bunch of generic, Carcass-inspired lyrics and grunted all of them down a microphone with such dullness and lack of passion, as if he was being threatened with lethal injection if he refused.
He then threw in some really long solos which involve him going up and down a scale for a minute and a half, occasionally sustaining one or two notes before going back to his "ladder technique". Once he'd done this, he got some bassist to write complicated, yet equally pointless, basslines for him to throw in where he liked, got a drummer to hyperblast for half an hour and then put it all together with lots of editing to create Epitaph.
This just... isn't death metal. It's too clean and overproduced to be classified as death metal. It's too show-off-y to even be classified as technical death metal. I was curious to check this album out because everyone claims Necrophagist is the brainchild of some second coming of Satan wielding a pick-axe and a troupe of gore-obsessed Nazi zombies with a penchant for all things violent and bloody – the “perfect” death metal band.
This is simply not true at all. It feels more like Satan and his gang arrived, then some crazed, 11-year-old Malmsteen nerd gatecrashed the party and forced them to write the most technical and mechanical thing possible in the shortest time possible. This actually brings me onto the albums other big flaw – it’s only half an hour long. That's just not enough. There are grind albums longer than this. It feels too rushed and controlled. On top of this, there's just no sense of... soul here. I mean I could easily condemn Nile of committing most of these sins – hyperblasted drum lines, dull vocals, poor solos - but they have a certain trademark sound to them, as well as incredibly EPIC 5 or 6 minute songs that just have an incredible progression to them, which immediately makes me forget anything negative I had prepared in my mind. On top of all this, it feels like they really do enjoy it - Necrophagist don’t.
To sum up, Epitaph is, as I have said so many times already, too dull, emotionless, bland, mechanical, and lacks any sort of creativity or ingenuity to make it worth really listening to. I admire Suicmez’ playing skills, but that’s the only thing I envy here.
I don't quite get all the hatred for this album. "It's all soulless wankery", well... it's technical death metal, it's kind of expected nowadays. Now, before the chorus of little gremlins pipe up with glaring accusations of hypocrisy, I'd like to say that I believe Necrophagist does tech death better than most bands in the scene today. The solos are all technically challenging, blisteringly fast, and most importantly, ear catching.
That's right, above bands like Psyopus, who can't write a solid riff if their life depended on it, Suicmez manages to make me not only remember the riffs, but the solos as well. Most everything is memorable, which is more than I can say for the throngs of technical bands that are all too busy bashing the bishop over their chops to write a damn song. I'll admit, the riffs can be described as equally wanky to the solos, but I still find myself humming some of the riffs from Seven and Diminished to B (which by the way, either every page on the internet has a typo, or that's one of the dumbest/nerdiest song titles I've ever witnessed). And the fact that I'm humming TECHNICAL DEATH METAL riffs should be a feat in that of itself, who the hell remembers most riffs in the genre? Are there even usually riffs at all? Most of the time I find myself listening to thirty minutes of mindless sweep tapping fudscullery as opposed to actual written songs. Necrophagist prevails above that stereotype in my eyes and writes honest to god songs with at the very least some half assed attempt at structure instead of constant uninteresting fills.
I'll also say here, that not all of the criticism is unwarranted. The album is actually uncomfortably repetitive. That is pretty much the exact opposite of what is desired in music anyways, but the annoyance and frustrated is multiplied when the album is as short as this one is. That is essentially the only complaint I have, as I find the vocals to be good, the drums competent, and the production good (just a side note to those who despise clean production, stay away because this album is not raw in the slightest), but repetitiveness is possibly the one quality that makes me want to punt kittens the most. Nothing is more frustrating than when an otherwise great album falls into the rut of monotony (see A Haunting Curse or Beyond the Permafrost for good examples). Almost every solo follows the exact formula that their "hit", Fermented Offal Discharge, set five years beforehand. The music slows down while the solo gets started, sounding strangely consonant to the otherwise chaotic music leading up to it, but the music in the background inevitable speeds up (usually playing a preestablished riff) and then Muhammed starts sweeping like a mildly retarded janitor. If there is one thing I hate in metal, it is when solos aren't creative, which is what actually manages to happen here.
I hope I'm not sending mixed messages, I highly enjoy this album, but it is far from perfect. A lot of the criticisms of it being modern wankery to appeal to dumbass kids isn't entirely true. I guess I wouldn't recommend this to people who dislike crystal clear production or don't like overtly wanky music (as much as I like this album, it is indeed undeniably wanky). Some songs, namely Symbiotic in Theory, Ignominious and Pale, and The Stillborn One, aren't really memorable, but no songs are explicitly bad. Standouts include Epitaph (if only for the dual guitar harmony in the intro), Only Ash Remains, and Seven. The only way to tell if you will enjoy this or not is to hear it for yourself. I give it a B-, it's good, but unmistakably broken at the same time.
Thank you for the title Morbo...
I picked this album up by accident, I didn't really want it, but fate brought it to me, proving to me that I am destined to have an irritating life. I'd heard the first half of Only Ash Remains, which wasn't too bad, and managed to gain my interest in the band enough to examine this album after seeing the pretty badass cover art in the local metal store, and browse at it's track listing. When, as if guided by a supernatural force, my fingers lost grip on the shiny case, sending it crashing to the floor, breaking it. Needless to say, I was forced to pay the full $30 for an album I had limited interest in.
To be honest, I was mildly impressed on my first listen, it was certainly complex, and it did have quite an easily digested, inviting sound, if a little weak. But every time I listened to it afterwards I realised more and more that Epitaph is an extremely repetitive piece of death metal, from riffs, to vocals, to solos, to every damn thing on the album. But it got worse for the album; it has now occurred to me that this isn't even Death Metal.
That's right, I can't bring myself to call this death metal.
It's the first example I'd heard of the modern pussified tech death guitar tone. Namely, it's so weak and non-death metal sounding that if it wasn't accompanied by blast beats and death growls, you wouldn't think that this was a death metal album. Honestly, I've heard keyboardists with a more intense tone. This tone has since been utilized by many Tech Death bands, although not quite this badly, resulting in the music having no energy or emotion, instead the wank is put right up in front and focussed on. No longer is it the technical death metal of Suffocation or early Cryptopsy where the music was good, and happened to be complex, Necrophagist say "Look at this guitar noodle and how hard to play it is". Basically, I blame this band for taking the Death away from technical death metal and making this tone desirable for the thousands of bands trying to follow in their footsteps.
Secondly, these riffs aren't death metal. They're like some kind of prog metal or something, basically, the notes don't run together as a real riffs, the tone is so shrill that every note sounds independent, not just atonal, but completely independent, resulting in the riffs having zero punch or memorability. As I said, they're not death metal either, but instead some form of high speed tech metal of some indiscernible style. The final touch to the guitars is the incessant noodling, which is common in tech death, but where say Suffocation could noodle all day and be enjoyable, the total lack of harshness in the sound just makes Necrophagist just sound like identity free ego worship. The most impressive thing is that Suicmez manages to make all the notes sound random, whilst somehow not sounding overly insane or incredible, Everything even manages to sound the same despite the lack of a standard riff. Honestly, I find Brain Drill to have a more cohesive sound than this.
Now, I can't omit that what Muhammed Suicmez has written is phenomenally complex, but honestly, it doesn't matter because there is no song writing, at all. No interaction between instruments, Hell, there isn't even interaction between the just the guitars. You could be excused for thinking Necrophagist only had one guitarist because Christian Münzner has the almost exact same tone just half as loud, just a little lower so he can't encroach on the leads at all. Clearly, Suicmez has gotten caught up with all of his fan worship on his one man performance on "The Onset Of Putrefaction", and has in turn gotten up his own asshole so far that he is now using himself as a puppet. This is simply a ego masturbation session by the bands key member, and everyone else is ignored, nay, consciously pushed back in the writing and mixing just so there's no way that people will want to fellate anyone else in the band.
The only thing death metal about this album is the blast beats and growls. When Suicmez decides to slow down, again, it's not crushing, because of the guitar sound which is similar most bands keyboard sections, instead it sounds more or less like Red Harvest, but weaker.
Continuing with the theme of weak music, you get the other instruments. The drumming is extremely fast, but also completely flat and sterile. The snare sounds about as low as any other drummer's bass drums, and the cymbals are quieter than the sound of a few coins jingling in your pocket. This seems to be just to make sure there's nothing other than guitar in the high end of the sound because Muhammed couldn't bear having anything else interfere with his guitar mastery. The vocals are painfully monotone and indistinguishable, and add nothing to the sound of the band, other than to try and convince people that this is proper DM band.
Personally, I generally have nothing against a little bit of a wankfest, but this is excessive and awful. In fact, the most enjoyable times are where he just gives up all ideas of being a band and plays solos, because they are downright impressive when they don't sound exactly the same; unfortunately a heap of them do. But the few that do stand out, such as Seven, are truly amazing. Most of the score I'm giving this album comes from pretty much the solos and the odd piece of interesting drumming that comes through, despite its miserable sound.
If Muhammed could have restricted his self indulgent tendencies just to his soloing, this probably wouldn't be such a bad album, but he has totally dominated the sound with nothing of interest to give. He fails to provide any brutality or energy, interesting structuring or rhythms, or even playing an enjoyable riff. Basically anything that isn't a solo, he isn't impressive at, yet still he's ALWAYS the most important part of the mix. This is what hurts Epitaph the most; it's a wank fest, but only a wank fest by one member. Resulting in you having nothing to do for the whole duration of this album but listen to Suicmez shred along his scales for all eternity. There's no balance in it, everything is directed at the lead guitar, which is horrible for the most part. The drummer tries to wank a little and make thing interesting, but he is in turn punished with being mixed half as loud as any drum track should ever be, with the dullest and flattest sounding kit ever created.
It's quite amazing that this much can go wrong in just 32 minutes. Not only has it managed to wear out it's welcome in this tiny period of time, it's managed to irritate the hell out of me. I'm not much of a Death Metal purist, I don't usually complain about bands ruining the genre, but this is the closest I've gotten to gaining a personal grudge against a band for disrespecting the general styles of the genre so much. This is pathetically weak and sterile. There's no real soul to the music, it sounds processed and one-dimensional, there’s no energy or aggression, there barely an enjoyable riff on offer. Really, there's nothing on Epitaph apart from one guy showing off what he can do on guitar. Of course, lots of bands show off all the time, but this isn't a band showing off, this is one person showing off at the total expense of the band or any sort of musical achievement.
Over recent times, it seems that a few metal bands are trying to appeal to soccer mums (that's moms for you Americans with your crazy spellings). Bands like Agalloch will sate many a parents who likes their Enya and Coldplay, much of today's symphonic power metal sounds almost exactly the same as ABBA or one of those other old disco bands, and then you have Necrophagist. I'm not exactly sure what kind of soccer mums these guys were going for, at a guess I'll say those who like listening to those new age albums full of dolphin sounds and waterfall field recordings, and maybe Cindi Lauper fans.
Incredibly hilarious jokes aside, though, this is probably one of the tamest death metal records I've ever heard. More good descriptions would be Sonata Arctica with downtuned guitars, or possibly Nightwish with Chris Barnes fronting.
Basically, Necrophagist traffic in a bland, inoffensive brand of technical death metal that proves that while these guys can play their instruments well, they can't write a good song or heavy riff to save themselves. It's hard to pick up any song and say "this is a good example of what I'm talking about" as they all sound the same (and my mp3s are mistagged!?), but I guess one that springs to mind is the opening of 'The Stillborn One' which "boasts" the most tepid, horrible attempt at a slow, 'crushing' riff that you've ever heard, before the song breaks out into some faster but still completely unmemorable guitar wank. This gets repeated pretty much every song, with some slow, completely listless parts mixed in with some faster parts that are more technical but have even less energy. The title track would be a good example of a fast song with basically no energy at all. I feel sleepy and lethargic just listening to this- I don't know how Necrophagist stayed awake long enough to record this.
And that's pretty much it about this record. I guess another term that would work well is 'flaccid'- certainly there's not exactly a lot of testosterone in this record. There's not really any aggression, just lots of fast, pointless fretboard work, with the overall atmosphere of.. I dunno, a boy scout hall. A dentist's convention. At least other modern bands like Nile and Hate Eternal bury their pointless blast-fests (not to say that those guys don't actually write some good songs here and there, because they do) under some hefty production with some heavily distorted guitars- whereas Necrophagist keep everything painfully clean and sterile so that they don't disappoint any of their soccer mum fans.
Overall, I would advise everyone to avoid this. Perhaps this would be a good album if you wanted to get your grandmother into death metal, or if you wanted to hear some death metal and the only other thing you'd ever listened to was Evanescense. Otherwise there's no excuse, though. Avoid this riffless, dickless wonder like the plague.
First time I heard this album, right after it’s release I was delighted! It’s essential fusion of brutal Death Metal and classical music is more than satisfying to my ears.
The progressions of riffs are natural and pleasant; “it seems like listening to Beethoven or Mozart!” said a friend of mine who doesn’t listen to metal music at all. I asked him again if the music is too brutal for his taste, I will shut it down but he answered: ”On no! Actually it’s very calming, I had stressful day and this is relaxing.” I think this view of non-metal listener tells something.
The most amazing thing about this album is the clarity of production. You can hear every note of every instrument anytime! This is very, very rare thing considering we are talking about high speed metal music with lots of blasts, complex riffing, progressive rhythms. Production lefts that opened feeling, like there is still plenty room to put another instrument, let’s say keyboards, and it would still sound great! I just love it!
Being musician myself I’m considering Epitaph as a real masterpiece of modern tech. metal that is surely going to become the part of history. I think that this album sets new standards and gives huge inspiration how progressive/brutal metal music should sound.
Guitar riffs are really complex and difficult to play; lots of string skipping, alternate picking, arpeggio technique is mostly used in solos. Although some might say that riffs and rhythms are nothing special, but just listen “Diminished to B” or “Symbiotic in Theory” and you’ll find complexity and simplicity coexisting in this songs. The song structures can only be compared with virtuosity of classical compositors.
This is really music full of extremes. There are very few death metal bands that can sound so brutal and so mellow at the same time. The result is very fluid and melodic music with right amounts of aggression that in the end leaves powerful impression. All instruments are equal, with slight domination of guitars (mostly because of solos). Vocal is probably the least dominant, monotone and deep pitched grind, but it adds to the brutality factor that puts Necrophagist to the list of brutal metal bands. With different (singing) vocal they could be easily put to power metal category. Drum playing is awesome! Can be easily compared to style of Richard Christy of Death. Very percussive and straight rhythmic but with those little fills and cuts that make it sound more progressive and virtuoso. Bass is also strong playing wise, and plays it’s own patterns rather than doubling guitar all the time. With few cool licks in between it gives the definite power to band performance. I like very much that bass is actually equal with guitars and not hiding behind the guitar sound like in many cases of fast and brutal music.
With no doubt Necrophagist is one of the most amazing, jaw-dropping live acts that can easily compete with genius and virtuosity of bands like Nile, Cryptopsy, Opeth. Once you hear them live you’ll know why I’m say this. Now after extremely successful tour in Europe and USA, it’s likely to see Necrophagist being on of the major brutal metal acts starting with their next release in 2008. featuring amazing Marco Minnemann on drums. Just can’t wait for new album!
After being barraged with a never-ending stream of hype on the band Necrophagist, I decided to listen to what all the fuss was about and see for myself. I chose their newest album “Epitaph.” Expecting Chuck Schuldiner’s heir, I was severely disappointed. This album is a collection of some of the most generic and dull death metal I’ve ever heard. I couldn’t believe so much hype would come from the heavy metal underground on a band this bad. The album is not very coherent. There are very few memorable riffs, more, a collection of technical riffs with nothing tying them together. The vocals are bad, simply put. The drums are calculated and predictable. The best part of “Epitaph” is the bass playing, which is actually very good.
The guitars on this album are technical, yet not what they’ve been hyped to be. There are way more technical bands out there. The solos are boring and lack direction. Endless wanking up and down scales is not good guitar playing, period. These solos belong in a guitar clinic, not on a death metal album. After reading reviews and comments in forums about this band, I never expected such a weak guitar performance. These guys are great technical players, not so much great players though. The whole album is just an endless stream of fret wankery with no riffs and weak soloing. It seems as if they are afraid to get outside of certain scales and it totally limits their playing. They follow the rules TOO closely. Any great guitarist learns the rules of music theory, then learns that the most important rule is to learn how and when to break them. Necrophagist are yet to learn this rule, and their playing is lacking because of it.
There is not much to say for the vocals of this album. They lack any variety whatsoever. The vocalist has no range to speak of. Just typical low death metal growls. It becomes extremely monotonous by the end of the second song. As for the lyrics, it seems as if they were aiming for a philosophical feel but they accomplished only a jumbled bunch of words that make very little sense.
The drumming is just generic technical death drumming with a few odd rhythms here and there. There’s not much to speak of in this area. It’s just constant blast-beating all to hell and back for the most part.
The high point of the album is the bass. There is a couple amazing bass solos on the album, most notably at the beginning of the track “Only Ash Remains.” The bass player opens up the song with a mind-blowing solo that is all too short-lived; then those tasteless guitars come in with a dual harmony and crush my excitement. The only thing holding this album together is the times that the bass is allowed to shine through. This is one of the greatest bass albums I’ve ever heard.
Overall, there is very little to commend on this album. The high points are the song 'Seven,' which allows the bass player to show off his talents, and the beginning bass solo on the song 'Only Ash Remains.' The guitar playing is uninspired and lacks any coherence throughout the songs. The vocals are just very bad generic death metal vocals, as stated before. The drumming doesn’t bring anything interesting to the mix. Again, the incredible bass playing is the only good point about this album. Otherwise, it’s bad. Period.
Well what can I say? I suppose I could quite easily sum the album up with a simple:
Wank, Suffocation, Psycroptic, Lindbloom.
However, MA ritual makes it law that I have to write a review, obviously, longer than 4 words. So here it is.
This album can be called "wankery" by some and "mastery" by others. Perhaps it's a combination of both?
The first thing that caught me about this album was the opening track. (It would have had the same effect if I had started it from any track, though) "Stabwound" just slung my mind instantly to Persuader's "The Hunter." Obviously not because of the opening music, but the fucking solos! This guy is like a Magnus Lindbloom reincarnate! The solos are so perfectly clean and precise, with every note being picked at a 3/4-tempo pace, and just makes the whole course of the music slide perfectly.
The next thing that caught me was the technicality of the bass guitar and the drums. This drummer just cuts the cake so well. With a great array of alternating beats and some impressive gravity blast beats. The bassist, also playing a rather solid part in the technical novelty; spilling some rather techy interspersing bass-to-lead-guitar solos. Some extremely impressive finger-work, both left and right hand.
Regarding the vocals, what can I say? I guess it's just like what you would expect from a generic death metal band...Perhaps I'm just cynical when it comes to death metal vocal;. I've never really been a fan of death metal vocals as much as I have the novel instrumental work in technical death metal bands; the vocals are what you would expect from any death metal band, really. That's not to say they're a spoiler; they're a fitter, but not a necessity. These guys could have pulled off a blast-beating, heavier Dream Theater deal, or maybe a harsh-vocalised Psycroptic. Easily.
Now for some comparisons:
My first obvious instrumental comparison would be this guy's [Muhammed's] guitar work to Magnus Lindbloom's. Not many of you would have known before I let on the hint to the Mods to edit the info about Persuader's session players, but the session guitarist who played the majority of the solos in Persuader's album "The Hunter" was Magnus Lindbloom. But, I mean, if you have NO clue as to who he is, just imagine Muhammed's solos, just a lot faster. But basically exactly the same tone: tremolo-washed, neck-picked, slow-sweeped arpeggios. Works perfect at 3/4-tempo pace.
Another comparison would be with Psycroptic. A lot of you might be like "huh?"...But seriously, it was one of my first impressions when I heard Epitaph. The clean, reverb-less riffs and beats seem to just give it that in-studio brutality feel, and in Psycroptic's "Isle of Disenchantment" it had a VERY similar tone and reverb-less feel to it. Cleans it up a lot, usually bands that have shitty tone need to hide it with millions of layers of guitar tracks and just wash them away with reverb. Bands like Psycroptic and Necrophagist don't.
Of course, there will be those of you that say "WTF, MORB, UR A DICKHEAD! DEY HAVE REVERB IN DEIR SONGZ!!!" But obviously, not much, just listen to how clean-cut the guitar work is! Very little reverb.
However, like everything, there is a downside; hence, the 10-point drop in my rating for them: Their REPETATIVENESS! After "Stabwound," I'm like "Oh fuck yeah, what a bad-ass track" but then it goes onto the next track...Which is barely any different; and then the next track, and the next track and on and on and on...Most of them are just so fucking similar! It's hard to make specific distinctions between the characteristics of each song, which is a very big let-down. With bands like Aquaria, or Iced Earth, or Pantera, (totally different to death metal in every way) they ALL get kudos from me, simply because all their songs have extremely distinct differences between them. However, sadly, (like with Psycroptic's Symbols of Failure...how ironic) Necrophagist fail to present DISTINCTLY different songs. I mean sure, you could put a track to a title after a couple of listens to the whole album, but you should be able to tell the difference between each song's characteristics instantly, and each song should have a similar structure, but a different personality. These guys just don't do it.
However, with everything, you gotta take the bad with the good, because overall, this album just seems to kick technical ass all over the place.
A definite must have for fans of Psycroptic, Suffocation, Martyr or Lindbloom.
This is technical death metal to the bone. The most complex, technical, mind-boggling licks are executed on this CD, and there is a solo, after solo, after solo in every track. To create good, "technical" music, one must be able to understand the timing and music theory behind the actual melody, in other words - you need to know your shit. The whole band is magnificently tight and clean with their music and timing, and their raw talent is phenomenal. The vocals are powerful, threatening and probably some of the best in all of death metal. The drums are all over the fucking walls yet they still maintain consistency and precision, the guitars are fucking nuts and can be best described as fret board witchcraft, and on top of all this - only god knows how in the world they found the unparalleled lefty 6-string bassist Stefan Fimmers, whom is one of the most admirable bassists in all of metal.
I could rave about the musicianship on this album for days. However, as far as the music on this disc is concerned, it is mediocre - at best. The riffs just sound like average-joe death metal, but so many good melodic/technical aspects are weaved into it. The thing that makes these guys unique is their musicianship and technicality - not music. The CD in fact just sounds like a 30 minute guitar/bass/drum solo, with vocals as well as occasional interludes of solo guitar. That makes up the beauty of the technicality. For instance, in "Stabwounds," it starts off with furious blast beats and fast/intense shredding guitars, with the tempo probably burning at 200 bpms (beats per minute). Then right at the 25 second mark a godly guitar solo starts off and the drums slow down to a steady head banging pace. Then while the guitar is furiously raping the fret board - a bass solo launches and is soloing at jaw-dropping speeds. The track then continues on with this madness, and although this track is the shortest on the CD – it is one of the best.
Another case is in "Only Ash Remains." Oh my fucking god. I don't know if it is just me but I just laugh out loud due to astonishment every single time I hear the beginning of this track - and that is no exaggeration. An incredible bass solo with scattered double bass drum parts launches the track. Then as soon as I thought things could not get any better – I was quickly mistaken because all of a sudden the most tight, clean, breath-taking guitar harmony came into play. Muhammed Suiçmez is definitely one of the best guitarists to be involved in death metal, ever. A warning before listening to this track is beware of whiplash, because you will be head banging, guaranteed.
One last example portraying the technicality of this album is track 7, titled “Seven.” I would have never guessed, but this track is in the time signature of 7 /4. For those who don’t know what that means, it basically means the actual riff starts over after 7 beats. Just the raw talent, musicianship and creativity is astounding.
Unfortunately, I still have some gripes about this disc. First off – I realized that any type of music can sound technically insane if it is played over some whacky time signature. Jazz, or even simple modern rock can sound just as technical as Necrophagist if they played in a 13/8 time signature. The musicians who can make a standard 4/4 time signature sound technical are truly talented. In addition, like I said before - the music is lacking. There are very memorable moments and kick-ass riffs on this disc, but for the most part this album is very mechanical and dry. Muhammed Suiçmez is constantly busting out his chops, and he doesn’t leave enough time for a coherent riff to take place. There are also no moments in which you are able to sit back and take a breather, or enjoy a slow and steady riff and head bang, hence this is technical brutal death metal.
To wrap this up, basically this is a must have by a musicianship standpoint. You are missing out on the true meaning of “guitar solo,” without this album. The music is lacking considerably – which is what brings my respect of this disc down dramatically. On the other hand, I am not going to kill this album’s rating because of this. I believe the whole point of this album was to bust chops, and bust chops only and I respect that. This CD is oriented almost purely off of technicality – it would be like me bashing on a black metal album for lack of variety, when really the purpose of the album is not aimed towards variety and diversity.
All in all it comes down to what you’re looking for. This is a quick and flashy album with incredible guitar trills and irregular time signatures. The disc in my opinion is 85% musicianship, and 15% music. This CD defines technical death metal.
This album is a grower people, give it time to sink in.
After listening to Epitaph for over a year, I've finally come to terms with it's brilliance. It's arguably become my favorite death metal album of all time and that's saying a lot with all the classics that came out.
It starts off with ''Stabwound'', the shortest and catchiest song on the album. Already in the first 15 seconds, Necrophagist displays their amazing talents and their differant, yet powerful death metal vocals. It then goes into ''The Stillborn One'', the song that turned me off Epitaph when I first bought it because of it's slow pace and it was the opposite of Stabwound, it wasn't catchy at all. But after a year of digestion, the song has grown on me and I'm blown away by how tight they are (even tighter) when they slow down the speed of a song.
Track 3 (Ignominious & Pale) is the take off point, they don't slow down for the rest of the album. Ignomunious & Pale, Diminished to B, the tittle-track Epitaph and Only Ash Remains are non-stop with amazing riff after amazing riff after amazing riff! Christian Münzner really proves that he's worthy of playing along side with Muhammed (especially in Only Ash Remains).
Speaking of which, Only Ash Remains, to me, is hands down the best song on this album (followed by the tittle track). They really do show-off their amazing abilities in this song. The bass intro is mind-boggling, how anyone could solo that fast on bass with three fingers is beyond me. As if that wasn't enough, Muhammed and Christian break into the bass solo with the cleanest and best executed guitar harmony I've ever heard. I've listened to the first 30 seconds of this song over and over so many times and it never gets old. This song is non-stop with great riffing and then they finish off with a classical piece, which actually fits very well into the song. Only Ash Remains is basically the only song in which they display their talents with an obvious intro and an outro.
''Seven'' has probably the weirdest and most hypnotizing opening riff (which is also the main riff) in the entire Necrophagist catalogue. Great song, but an odd pick to be on Relapse Record's latest compilation CD, it's not the best song to summarize the album or the band in general. The album finishes on ''Symbiotic in Theory'', another great song with more great riffs and solos, ending the album on a good note.
To all fans of metal who appreciate good musicianship and amazing talent, check out this album (and their 2002 album Onset to Putrefaction). But if you're one of the metal gurus who thinks that death metal should sound exactly the same as it did in 1991, stay away from this album and stop giving it bad reviews after hearing half of it and claiming they can't write songs. Epitaph proves that they're at the top of the metal world, and they have a vision of music that most of us will never understand.
Necorphagist is a "group" (one man band, really) that has been getting a ton of press in the underground. People will go on and on about how Mr. Mohammed is the best metal guitarist of all time and how his music is the most technical death metal ever relaesed.
I'm here to say that that is outright wrong.
What we find with Necrophagist's music is extremely high speed music played all over the place (on the guitar). However, these are far from well thought out technical riffs in the vein of a Martyr or Suffocation, these are soulless pieces of vain glorious fret wankery that never seem to lead anywhere. The basic stucture never strays far away from its formula. You end up getting a full album of:
- Blast beats
- Some low tuned tremolo picked "complex" riffing
- Occaisional sweep
- Hyperspeed, neo-classical solos
All wrapped in a lifeless package...
This album simply trudges along the lines of heavy. It's neo-classical wankery disguised as death metal. There's nothing wrong with playing complex music. On the contrary, I'm definately a technical death fan... but only when its done with some kind of musical integrity behind it. This is a showoff album for a showoff guitarist.
That being said, the title track is listenable, as well as the opener and closer. The rest is clear filler (among filler). So those singing its praises can have fun, I'm gonna go listen to a SONG.
Some five years ago, a guy by the name of Muhammad Suicmez released ‘Onset of Putrefaction’ (Velvet records) – working under the band name ‘Necrophagist’, the album was hailed as an underground classic, although it basically went unheard by 90% of the genre’s fan base. Now signed to the mighty Relapse roster, Necrophagist have returned with a full line up and with what is possibly the progressive death metal album of the year in album No.2, ‘Epitaph’.
Quite understandably, particularly in the death metal scene, there is a mighty buzz about Necrophagist. To make it perfectly clear about the quality of band we’re talking about here, let me mention a few names: Death, Morbid Angel, Cynic, Pestilence and Athiest. If you know your Death Metal, you know that each and every one of those bands are utterly revered for their amazing ‘technical’ proficiency and willingness to embrace a more progressive element in their music. Necrophagist play in the same ballpark. In fact, so good are they, they’re batting 1000!!
Necrophagist are super fucking technical punters. Not just odd timing or strange riff patterns, but extremely fucking hard to play, technical death metal. Your average death head wannabe would curl up in a corner in convulsions at the prospect of ever getting near the kind of musicianship captured on ‘Epitaph’. It’s fast, unrelenting and layered with unexpected twists and turns throughout its entire journey.
The guitar virtuosity (not to mention the awesome bass playing!!) displayed by Muhammad Suicmez and his more than dexterous offsider Christian Muenzner is insane - Jaw droppingly so. Folks, I continually marvel at some of the lead work that the late Chuck Schuldiner laid down on the last few Death albums – well, Suicmez is in the same league as far as fret work wizardry goes. Seriously, Suicmez is an outstanding lead guitarist – his solos have that ‘neo-classical’ feel about them, but emotively they’re more in tune with Chuck Schuldiner than anything like Yngwie Malmsteen. Some people might accuse Suicmez of gratuitous self indulgence such is his penchant to rip off leads whenever possible – but personally, as the album is so short (eight tracks at 33 minutes) I think his work actually sounds remarkably controlled and perfectly placed within the context of his compositions.
Aside from the head spinning musicianship displayed on ‘Epitaph’, perhaps the real clincher for this album is that Necrophagist are also able to make their music work as coherent and accessible songs. Everything seems to fit – furthermore, it’s remarkable that considering the progressive nature and intricate execution of their music, much of it is also decidedly catchy and rhythmically appealing. Ultimately for me, ‘Epitaph’ has that real ‘Death’ vibe about it (circa ‘Symbolic and ‘Sound of Perseverance). If you love those two albums, ‘Epitaph’ is essential.
What about the vocals? Well, ultimately this is a death metal album. An extremely powerful and intricate one, but nevertheless it is a Death Metal album. So, as far as vocalizing goes, you’ve got Suicmez delivering your regular cookie cutter growling in true Karl Sanders (Nile) style. Sure, this aspect is Necrophagist at its most generic (and possibly lackluster), but the truth of the matter is that it’s actually not all that important. Such is the musical emphasis of this album, ‘Epitaph’ could have been released ‘vocal-less’ and it would have mattered nought.
There is no doubt that Necrophagist have unleashed a sure fire Death Metal classic in ‘Epitaph’. As a statement for technical, progressive death metal, it doesn’t come any more succinctly that this. And as luck would have it (or via the brilliance of label marketing), just in time for the release of ‘Epitaph’, Willowtip records (USA) has re-mastered the debut ‘Onset…’ disc and released it with new artwork and 2 bonus tracks. I can’t say anything more than BUY or DIE!!
'Epitaph' is the follow-up to the classic album 'Onset of Putrefaction.' This album combines crushing arpeggios and extremely technical guitar riffs for an awesome display of technical death metal.
Track one - Stabwound: This song starts off extremely fast and technical, reminiscent of 'Onset of Putrefaction' soon comes in a crushing sweep/tap lead fill which leads right into Muhammeds growls. Bringing the brutal technicality back to this song. Throughout the song that same lead fill shows it's head again, the second time leading into a solo full of Harmonic Minor Arpeggios and harmonized parts. The song gets more technical the farther you get into it. I killer opener.
Track two - The StillBorn one : This song is a change of pace, it's very slow, throughout the verse and chorus. This song has a very interesting 'solo' it's two notes with what i think is a tremelo bar in between them. Then the song suddenly picks up with some technical riffs, and even a riff straight from Beethoven's 'Fur Elise' is thrown into the mix. The second solo is full of speed picking and crushing arpeggios that match the speed of the song, though i think this solo is a bit overdone. The song ends with the slow part from the beginning of the song.
Track three - Ignominious and Pale: This song begins with a very technical riff, for which Necrophagist is known for but the song doesn't uphold this speed, it soon slows down before picking up speed again in the second verrse, this speed leads perfectly into the solo, this solo like most of the others is full of harmonies and speedy arpeggios. Through the rest of the song, there is an alternating pattern between speed and slower riffs.
Track four - Diminished to b: This song also starts of fast, and blows your mind with it's technicality throughout, this is the song that sounds most like 'Onset of Putrefaction' in my opinion. Throughout this song there is mind blowing technicality and crushing growls matched by squeling harmonics. The solo is not something to be overlooked either, it matches Necrophagist's reputation of harmonic minor solos and technicality, though sweeps are conspicuosly absent in this solo, it's quite good nonetheless. Towards the end of the song, seemingly out of nowhere a slower riff rears it's head to sort of end the song.
Track five - Epitaph: The title track, starts off extremely fast and extremely technical with some sweeps in the beginning of the song to set the pace. This song remains extremely technical through the verse, up until the interlude with a few chords and pinch harmonics. Then back into the roaring technicality, followed by the interlude again. The solo is what you would expect from Necrophagist, it starts off slow then picks up the pace with some nice licks. This whole song is extremely technical.
Track six - Only Ash Remains: This song starts off with a sick bass solo, followed by a guitar solo playing relatively the same thing but a few octaves higher. This song is high energy throughout, parts of this song the guitar parts aren't that fast, but it still stays high energy. Alot of the riffs in this song take on more of a progressive edge, sort of like the progressive works of the famed, Death. The solo to this song utilizes the Spanish Phrygian mode, including sweeping and speed picking. The song throws you a HUGE twist at the end, ending with Necrophagist's version of "The Capulets and the Montagues" from Romeo and Juliet (atleast that's what i believe it is.)
Track seven - Seven: This song also reminds me of the progressive works of Death, atleast at the beginning. Then, comes one of the fastest riffs on the album. Then in comes the progressive side of Necrophagist again, this is a side which we did not see on 'Onset of Putrefaction' very much. The solo is nothing short of amazing on this track. The rest of the track alternates between the 'Death' style of progressive and Necrophagist's unique technicality.
Track eight - Symbiotic in Theory: This song is extremely technical throughout, as is the rest of the album. There is a killer lead fill (not as good as Stabwounds lead fill, but good nonetheless) then back to the crushing technicality in the verse, along with some change of pace with some generic death metal chords followed by more technical riffs, leading into the lead fill, which in turn leads into the solo. The solo is a slower one, though it does include some fast licks, the song suddenly picks up in the middle of the solo, in turn the solo picks up speed before coming back into the lead fill, letting it echo with delay, as the verse riff comes back in and halts abruptly.
This album is full of complex arrangements and technical guitar riffing, not to mention the mind blowing solos. This album is a solid follow-up to 'Onset of Putrefaction.' For any band other than Necrophagist, this album would have scored higher but 'Onset of Putrefaction' is a tough album to follow.
Great album, nonetheless.