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(Originally published at valleyofsteel.net)
According to all of the photos and videos I've seen, it doesn't seem as though Nekrogoblikon typically appears or performs in costume (although they do have an ever-present mascot, of sorts, named John Goblikon), but each member does have an assumed goblin identity, and the five-song twenty-minute romp that is Power fully employs that characterization to sound as vicious and nasty as possible. Beyond the typical growling or howling that's found in death and/or black metal, the vocals here are filled with gurgles, snarls, and sneers.
Likewise, the guitars are generally fast and angry, scurrying about with a mad sense of ferocity. But like the devious critters themselves, there's much more to the story than just what's on the surface! Much of the material here, despite the overall nasty attitude, also has a sense of fun to it. In some places, like "Friends (in Space)" and "Derailed," some sound effects and orchestral tones injected into the background tend to give the music a slight video gamey vibe. And the closing track, "Giraffe" is not only upbeat and in a major key, but actually kind of silly and inexplicably goofy.
The juxtaposition of demonic and impish works best, in this reviewer's opinion, in songs like "Nothing but Crickets" and "Derailed" where here and there the band shows its playful side, in a bouncy manner that's a bit reminiscent of Finntroll -- hopefully it's not offensive to mention trolls around a group of goblins! Generally speaking, this EP is a nice, short introduction to the ways of the greenskins -- for those who check it out and get hooked, you might be interested to learn the band had a couple previous albums, and one newer one ...
Nekrogoblikon continue their dynamic progression with 'Powercore', an EP continuing with their trademark sound, but progressing into new territory. Top of the line musicianship is still present and a more prominent bass, which is one of the only things I found lacking on their previous release, 'Stench'. At this point, no two Nekrogoblikon albums really sound alike. Whether or not that's a good thing will depend upon the person. Compared with 'Stench', this EP is much more "radio friendly" in that all the songs are under five minutes. However, the heaviness, nasty vocals, and other acquired Nekrogoblikon elements we've come to love are still here (albeit less of a death metal influence than 'Stench').
Every song has a great chorus and hooks aplenty. The title track of the EP is easily the highlight with a great section highlighting the bass (finally!) and a chorus that will stick with you for a long time afterwards. "Friends in Space" and "Nothing but Crickets" carry on the same vein and "Bells & Whistles" actually has a chant section reminiscent of something you'd hear from the likes of Limp Biscuit. No surprise, as they toured together for a time. The closer of the album is a lighthearted tune called "Giraffe" which is probably the most unique sing-along metal tune I've heard in some time - "Suddenly a giraffe! Everybody come look! Everybody come laugh!".
The name of the game with this EP is catchiness, and with that in mind, the EP succeeds with flying colours. If this is an indication of what the next full-length will sound like then I'm quite interested. The stylistic progression Nekrogoblikon has made thus far only makes their future that much more exciting. Highly recommended, for what it is there's no complaints. It's a breezy EP that's a joy to listen to.
Nekrogoblikons 'Power' was interesting to say the least. What strikes me most about this EP and most of Nekrogoblikons work is the incorporation of xylophones, keyboards, and bells in melodic death metal. They make a subtle appearance on the first track, 'Friends (in Space)', by providing staccato accents on the the vocals in the chorus. They also provide a background for the guitar solos. The xylophone is used a lot more in the next track 'Nothing but Crickets'. The song begins with a prelude composed entirely on a xylophone, and then the xylophone also riffs along side the guitar during the remainder of the song. The xylophones continue to act this way on the rest of the EP, making occasional solos, introductions, and guitar accompaniments. Though the xylophone sounds are created by an electric keyboard, I have trouble distinguishing the sounds from any real xylophone.
The other cool thing about Nekrogoblikon is the vocals. The singer mostly sings in a high pitched growl, but also throws in an occasional clean passage, and sings in a much more comprehendible manner. His vocals are unexpectedly reminiscent of Elvenking, who plays a whole different style of metal. But Nekrogoblikon takes influence from many different sub genres, so I wouldn't be surprised if the band had folk metal influences.
The guitar work is well done. Well produced, and very diverse throughout the EP. The focus of it seems to be providing a structure for the xylophones to operate in. On 'Bells and Whistles' especially, the guitar seems to provide a bass line for the xylophone. There's still a fair amount of soloing though.
The only downside to 'Power' is the lyrics. While some of them are hilarious, most don't make sense. Especially on 'Friends in Space', when the band chants their own name. That part was cringeworthy. Other than that, the EP is a master piece. Great way to kill eighteen minutes.
The best way to define Nekrogoblikon sound is to think what would come out if Finntroll and Illnath had a goblin baby. Challenging, ah? Yes, but the result will probably be something very close to these Californians. Nekrogoblikon is a project vogue on the folk scene, after the recordings of "Goblin Island" (2006) and "Stench" (2011), but this EP raise the parade to another dimension.
What we have in "Power" are five hyper-catchy songs with less references to goblins than the previous two records, but with the same melodic-symphonic influences and the sharp humor that is one of the faces of the band. The news is the clean vocals that appear in all the songs and work, showing some versatility on the American sextet. The increasing use of non-metal instruments, like the xylophone that opens "Nothing But Crickets", is also a breath of fresh air in the sound of Nekrogoblikon and comes to be an "upgrade" on the songs that compose "Power". After this, all the songs on the album work as a quality of the band's inner self, since "Powercore" is full of catchy tones all over to "Giraffe", where the band announces a giraffe band to eat it later. Hilarious!
This album is definitely good news to the metal universe and a step forward on Nekrogoblikon's discography. The next record will be important to put the "goblins" as one of the new good values of folk metal, but judging by the quality of this EP, I think the next one will be even more bombastic. Poor giraffes.
This review was written for: http://www.metalimperium.com/
Release number 3! Man is this one sick. This band has steadily improved on each release and Power is no exception. Just as with Stench, the Nekrogobli-dudes have increased the quality of their music on all fronts. It's more melodic, it's more technical, it's more funny, and most of all, it's more dynamic than ever before.
The summary of this release is its just more. It's more, while being less. Nekrogoblikon has done more with these 5 short songs than they did on their entire first 2 albums. My previous reviews of this band were long, explained the sound of the band, and all the differences between the releases. This time around I'm going to keep it short and sweet. The primary differences on Power compared to Stench are three fold.
The first big evolution on Power is the significant increase in the use of the xylophone and other non traditional metal instruments. You can hear these the most on the tracks Nothing But Crickets and Bells And Whistles.
The second evolution in sound is in the clean vocals. For the first time in nekrogobli-history... the clean vocals are actually kinda awesome. Super catchy, very melodic, and just all around fun.
The final major change in the nekrogobli-tunes is in the lyrical content. On Stench, the guys started toying with non-goblin themes on songs like Bears, and here on Power, that is now the direction they have closed in on. The lyrics are diverse, dealing with friendship, space, monster crickets, trains, murder, and giraffes. above all, the lyrics are more self aware than ever. The general theme of this EP both on the opening and closing tracks is completely "meta". The songs are about the band themselves.
Generally, the EP in it of it's self is more dynamic, better produced, and more hilarious than ever. By now, most people have learned who Nekrogoblikon are after the major popularity of the No One Survives music video, so most people reading this think they know what to expect. Well, you don't. Listen to the EP, and prepare for some big surprises, some crushing riffs, some huge choruses, and let the hilarity ensue.
favorite track: Nothing But Crickets.