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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.