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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.