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For a band's first album, one may expect reasonably poor music and sound quality, but in my opinion their deal with Century Media has given the band a much more refined sound than on their demo's and EP's. Clocking in at about 35 minutes, it is by no means an album one could call "too long" and I can easily maintain my attention throughout the album, and, I'm not joking, I even find the tone of the music strangely relaxing and soothing to my nerves, not what one would expect from a death metal band. I don't know, maybe it's because of the atmospheric tone created in songs such as "Impious Plague in Catacombs" or "The Anthropomancer" or maybe I'm just plain weird. Though it is kind of disappointing that the songs lose intensity halfway through the album, in my opinion this is because of the repetitive drum sequences and a lack of emphasis on the snare and a sense of repetitiveness.
First impressions matter, and "Ripping Souls of Sinners" is an energetic opening track to the album, immediately grabbing my attention and excitement with the distorted and rather unique screams that Vlad emits. It might start off with a bang in "Ripping Souls Of Sinners", but in my opinion the most distinctive tracks are "Purifying Torment" and "Impious Plague in Catacombs", these don't seem to fall into the repetitive drum sequence trap they seem to have dragged themselves into, and there are some good guitar solos, albeit rather short, but they're still unique enough to give these songs their own distinct atmosphere. That said, the album is not made of entirely new material, with "Necrollections" and "Repugnizer" being on previous demo releases, although the quality of the re-recordings is much better. On the downside, it seems they have allowed the songs to lose their aggressive impact halfway through the album as it becomes apparent that the songs have very similar structures, just listen to the bass solos on "Goat-Headed" and "Defiler of Sacrality", they are very similar indeed.
Sadly, the bass is almost impossible to hear over the more punctuated guitar and bass, something I feel they need to work on to give their music a "heavier sound". But, now and again they manage to make up for it with a few bass intros, such as in "Impious plague in Catacombs" or "The Anthropomancer", as well as it being better emphasized in "Repugnizer" and "Ripping Souls of Sinners".
Lyrics wise, they more than live up to their name and genre; with death, necromancy and dark magic being key to "Ripping Souls of Sinners", "Putrid Death Sorcery", "Purifying Torment" and "The Anthropomancer". However, possibly my strongest criticism is the fact that the lyrics to "Necrollections" and "Repugnizer" are not included in the footnotes, personally, I like to know what the band is singing about, even if it is something pretty morbid and dark but this just goes to show that Necrowretch are and will be a force to be reckoned with and the detail of these lyrics adds to the atmosphere they create.
The music is by no means "soft", even if the music does start to lose tone after a while, (particularly the drums), or give a sense of déjà vu, as one may be able to tell from the likes of "Repugnizer" and "Ripping Souls of Sinners", notice the similarity in speed, particularly the drum parts. However, it is evident that session drummer Mörkk has pulled off an excellent job in keeping the timings right as well as making a good impact, in my opinion this is most evident in "Spewed From Hell" and "Purifying Torment". Despite the occasional repetitiveness in the drum sequences, they do manage to make it sound menacing and evil, which should be top priority for any death metal band.
The artwork on the album cover and on the inside footnotes of the CD also represent the "Putrid Death Sorcery" of the album very well, the grotesque eyes and snake-like plants, all there and intimidating give it a dark and awesome look.
Overall, I feel they have managed to pull off a very good and consistent-sounding record, and I would recommend buying it on CD and vinyl (I have both), otherwise you will not get the full taste of the artwork or lyrics. Keep track of this band if you've heard their material, as these guys are something to watch...
"What now? A new French metal band you say. I suppose it is another avant-garde Deathspell Omega black metal band then? Wait, what! A French DEATH metal band, you say? Hang on? An OLD-SCHOOL death metal band, really? Are you perfectly sure? How many pints did you have?"
Necrowretch debut full-length takes us back, way back, to a time when thrash metal moved out of its mother's basement, went on a killing spree and became the sick twisted bastard we all know and love as death metal. Apart from a noticeably rather modern production everything about this album just oozes 80's death metal. The hell meets Lovecraft cover looks like a genuine combination of early Entombed and Carnage. The sick twisted vocals combines the primitive grunts of early Possessed with the low-pitched screams of mid-80's thrash, with the former being most present throughout the album. Almost pulverizing the listener the tempo is high from start to finish and does not give you a second to breath. The drumming is incredibly thrashy and it strongly reminds me of the aggressive almost-out-of-control style of Gene Hoglan's and Chris Reifert's early days. Bordering between aggressive thrash and primitive death metal the excellent riffage combines the ferocity of band like Slayer and Dark Angel with the technical explorations of early Possessed and Death. The horror-flick inspired guitar lines in particular serves the album well creating an eerie and dark atmosphere and could as well have been directly taken from 'Mental Funeral'.
Everything on this album is executed in utter perfection. Picking a favorite track from 'Putrid Death Sorcery' is nigh impossible. From the starting up-tempo beast 'Ripping Souls of Sinners' to closing track 'Repugnizer' this is nothing short of a veritable feast in what death metal is really all about. 'Repugnizer' strongly reminds me of 'From Beyond' closing track 'Corpsegrinder' of Massacre fame. Utilizing the grip of closing an album with a straightforward non-complex song is brilliant and makes me wanna spin 'Putrid Death Sorcery' all over again the very second the last note fades.
What truly set these Frenchmen (I still can't believe it either) apart from any other talented revivalist death metal horde though is that special feeling, an x-factor one might say, that captures the pioneering spirit of early Death, Possessed and Necrophagia without sounding like a worshiping band but a genuine product of that age. Had this been released in '87-'89 it would have been worshiped as a ground-breaking effort. Now, it is "only" the best retro-death metal album since 'Epitome Of Darkness'.
Originally written for www.metalcovenant.com