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In the Woods of Necrophiliacs and Undeads - 91%

bayern, April 26th, 2019

“Wood of Necrophiliac”… this piece of musical gorgeousness enraptured me so strongly on first listen that the rest of the album passed me by; completely. These 5.5-min of vocal-less majesty still stand as one of the five finest instrumentals I’ve ever come across in this life, a horror symphony that is easily the most fitting soundtrack to any walk through the woods from any horror film, especially F.W.Murnau’s seminal “Nosferatu”… a terrifyingly atmospheric composition which, alongside the Canadians Malhavoc’s “Cruciform” (not an instrumental), is the most perfect epitome of the word “horror” on the metal circuit.

A surreally immaculate number, smacked right in the midst of the album here, showing the guys in such a bright light that under its influence it would be hard to adequately evaluate the remainder… I usually skip this instrumental when I listen to the album cause it prevents me from fully enjoying the rest. And just to think that the band’s main asset, the unique wailing/screaming banshee Thorsten Bergmann, one of the most unique over-the-top vocals in music history, is missing from it… which in its turn immediately puts another plus in the guys’ resume, to be able to pull it off so well without the contribution from their major performer…

to be perfectly honest, this opus here contains more than enough for one to acknowledge the proficiency of the other band members. Although this “Metal Revolution” the band released two years earlier, this impossibly infectious, most sincere speed metal barrage, will remain my personal favourite from their discography, this outing tussles vehemently with the swansong “Killing in Action” for the runner-up position. As the warm-up for it (the “Back to the Weapons” EP) showed so well, the band were on the way to embracing the more aggressive, thrashy ways of execution, a mission nearly accomplished here. At this stage it wasn’t yet known that the axemen Reiner Kelch and Frank Fricke had also been recruited by the Mekong Delta founder Ralph Hubert, but the more stylish, plain eccentric on occasion riff-patterns applied here are quite reminiscent at times of the ones utilized on the Mekongs’ first released the same year.

“Horrible Infanticide (Part One)” is already a less ordinary opener, an intricate speedster with time-shifts galore, sounding like a more hysterical mutation from the preceding effort, a formula successfully applied on the equally as restless “Manila Terror” before “Natures Death” prepares the setting for the arrival of the mentioned instrumental horror opera with more moderate, semi-galloping rhythms. (skip) The flag of the good old speed metal in its less contaminated, less thrash-fixated form is raised high on “Vengeance (Horrible Infanticide Part Two)”, a hyper-active energizer with curious lyrical interludes this last gimmick nicely recalling the seeping atmosphere from the preceding saga time and again. Bad habits die hard, and the guys vote to stay on speed metal ground with the rousing “Intruder”, but before one falls into a sheer headbanging frenzy come the crooked choppy rhythmic patterns to perplex everyone around save for Bergmann, of course, who leaves his heart here with a most passionate performance logically leading to one of the most unforgettable lung-rending choruses ever.

Relatively conventional song-writing carved by bizarre strides… give us more of those, please, and even before you have started praying for them enters “The Galley”, a hypnotic mid-paced stomper bordering on doom, the sleep-inducing trance welcoming a truly eccentric time-signature mid-way, one noticed by other reviewers as well, and one that amazingly fits the anticlimactic delivery without drastically changing the setting. Audacious musicianship hinted at here and there, but never fully materialized as the guys’ hearts are firmly gripped by the speed/thrash metal revolution where the more immediate blitzkriegers “War of Independence” and “Eisbein (mit Sauerkraut)” belong.

A highly entertaining roller-coaster which plays with the audience’s expectations, tickling their nerves on regular bases, making them guess in what way the plot would possibly develop on the next cut. The instrumental highlight alone makes this opus a must-have, not only a must-listen, but it turns out that the rest of the material is way more than just a ballast, and with a more profound perusal one will easily learn to like most of it, the more aggressive thrashy excursions, the more frivolous speed metal-ish pageants, the allusions to something outlandish and eclectic… and this singer, this fabulous inimitable banshee… just concentrating on the vocals alone would do the trick for many, the man tirelessly and selflessly soaring above the diverse soundscapes, leading the show with supreme confidence and panache.

No necrophiliacs, no banshees, no overt technicality on the goofy thrash/crossover-ish follow-up “Worlds Neurosis” which initially was such a downright disappointment for me that I thought for quite some time to sit down and write to the guys to vent out my frustration… well, I never did that but almost instantly lost interest in their future activities which led to even bigger embarrassments like the Bergmann-led sequel Sacred Chao, with two (!) other Living Death members on board, a power/speed metal charade which was terrible by any conceivable standards, classic or modern. I only lent an ear to “Killing in Action”, the last chapter from the Living Death saga, some time in the late-90’s, and was quite happy to hear the good old speed/thrash venerably rendered as a farewell gesture. A dignity restoration if nothing else, especially for those like me who didn’t quite like the preceding goofer, this opus was almost as good as my beloved “Metal Revolution”, its positive qualities considerably elevated by the able Bergmann replacement, a seriously attached near-banshee vocal experience.

The reformation attempt from 2008 with Bergmann back in action was a salivating prospect but nothing came out of it. The man simply couldn’t be tamed this second time around… he ran away, never to be heard of again. Some people swear they can still hear him wailing inconsolably, somewhere in the woods of North Rhine-Westphalia…