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Fierce as hell - 100%

HviteGuden, May 9th, 2021

Necrophagia is an old school death metal band, which managed to sound fresh in the late 90s. The band split in the late 80s, but in the 90s the legendary Phil Anselmo developed a friendship with Necrophagia's leader, Killjoy, and influenced him to resurrect the band. Thus, in 1998 there came "Holocausto de la Morte" with Killjoy being a vocalist and the only member of the old lineup, while Anselmo handled the guitar.

Necrophagia's concept had always dealt with horror movies and "Holocausto de la Morte" isn't an exception in this case. Moreover, the album is dedicated to the classical Italian horror movie director, Lucio Fulci, who died not long before the release of "Holocausto de la Morte". The cover features images from Fulci's films. And, of course, the music of "Holocausto de la Morte" perfectly represents the concept. Furthermore, there're a lot of samples from the horror movies on the album.

"Holocausto de la Morte" isn't a common piece of death metal. It's majorly slow and has some groovy/sludgy undertones in the riffing, which make the music even more crude. The material is very harsh. However, there are culminations on the tracks and they are performed fast, in the grinding death metal manner, sometimes even with some black metal vibes. "Holocausto de la Morte" is like an ugly beast crawling to its prey in order to finally jump on it and tear it apart.

Killjoy's vocal performance is a one of the standout things. It's fierce caustic screaming, high-pitched, more common for black metal. This style can be compared to a manner of Maniac from Mayhem, who, by the way, is featured as a guest vocalist on a couple of compositions from this album. Anyway, such wicked and raspy type of vocals perfectly fits the music of "Holocausto de la Morte".

The drums often stand out as well. On some relatively dynamic parts the drumming is punkish. It makes the music more energetic. This move sounds especially spectacular on "Embalmed Yet I Breathe". Anyway, it's not a surprising thing, because Killjoy was admittedly influenced by punk rock.

All mentioned stuff makes "Holocausto de la Morte" so interesting. It's a very specific album. It's not a typical death metal, but it has all needed ingredients to be truly aggressive, sinister and brutal, so it works as a death metal album. Easily it's the best album of Necrophagia.

P.S. The band made a series of music videos for compositions of "Holocausto de la Morte". Those clips are produced better than a lot of slasher movies and perfectly fit both music and concept of the album.

Death metal for an Italian drive-in circa 1970-1980 - 73%

autothrall, May 7th, 2021
Written based on this version: 1998, CD, Red Stream, Inc.

Holocausto de la Morte was kind of a big deal since it saw Killjoy and Necrophagia resurrected from the dead, and although it carries many hallmarks from their 80s thrash-tempered material, this was really the dawn of the peculiar, minimalistic and evil death metal style that this band will forever foremost be known for. It's also interesting for me because it's a good example of an album I had little fondness for when I received the promo for an old paper zine back in those late 90s, but as I listen with what I hope to be fresh, well-aged ears, I can garner a little more appreciation for what the guys were trying here. In terms of its place in 'horror metal', while its far from a novel example by this date, I think the almost constant use of samples and themes here makes it one of the first things I think of when those two terms are joined together.

The formula: extremely basic, crisp thrashing rhythms alternated with Hellhammer-style grooves, never sounding they took more than a few minutes to conceive, but slathered with personality due to the guts gargling vocal presence of Mr. Killjoy. I mean this guy literally sounds like he's chewing on a rodent as he intonates these lyrics...a rat or squirrel being gnashed in his teeth, his tongue flicking about it to make sure the words make it to the microphone with somewhat proper pronunciation. It's the kind of comical you might have first experienced with John Tardy or Chris Reifert, only arguably taken to a further extreme. And yet, I admit it's one of the most endearing and compelling components of this band. The riffs are also engaging despite how crude they come across, especially when they're drowned in all the morbid chants and samples and narrative that gives you a drugged out effect. Remember that movie I Drink Your Blood with all the evil hippies? This album sounds like you could layer it in as an alternative soundtrack to that and it would function perfectly. It's got a kitsch quality about it like bad, bloody, cult special effects and styrofoam graveyards and as I type these ridiculous things I realize it's one of the high points for me.

The production is also really loud and easy to follow consider what an evil atmosphere it is attending. The guitars and vocals always stand out, the former shifting between their doomed lopes, My First Thrash Riff 101 or even a little more creative dissonance. The bass sounds good, but doesn't do much other than hold up those rhythm guitars with a plumpness. The drums dwell in a simple rock format, almost like Danzig, but once again that is what this requires...nothing too technical to force its way past the rest. All the eerie segues and chants seem as if they're almost randomly placed into tracks like "The Cross Burns Black", but once you're attuned to what sort of experience you're going to get, they work. The band will also launch into a mid-paced blasting on tunes like "Deep Inside, I Plant the Devil's Seed", and I did feel that some of the riffs there felt like bland grind, but at least its worth it to hear Killjoy go even further over the top of the sepulcher than he normally does. All in all, though, it's fairly catchy, and while it requires a certain frame of mind for me to even want to put this in for a spin, I'll openly admit it's grown into a go-to album when I need my fix of the late Mr. Pucci's morbid hijinks. Whatever you might think of his music, and I don't think too highly of much of it, the guy was a one-of-a-fucking-kind splatter metal icon.


Reborn in Gore - 95%

mocata9, April 18th, 2020

1998 seemed to signal some resurgence in death metal, after it had slumped in popularity some during the mid ‘90s. Fittingly, this was the same time one of the genre’s pioneers dragged itself from the cold, damp earth of the grave: Necrophagia.

This was not so much a reunion as a new start for a band with so much promise. Vocalist Killjoy returned with a new lineup featuring Dustin Havnen on bass, Wayne Fabra on drums, and Anton Crowley (aka Phil Anselmo) on guitar, in addition to writing the music.

Necrophagia’s obsession with horror returned in full force with the band. The resulting album, Holocausto de la Morte, was a tribute to Italian film director, Lucio Fulci. Killjoy even name-drops Fulci in the opening song, “Blood Freak”. I must comment on the title quickly, however. It looks like an attempt at Italian, which makes sense as it is dedicated to an Italian. However, I am pretty sure “holocausto” is Spanish. “Morte” is Italian for death, but in the home video, Through Eyes of the Dead, which followed this album and the EP Black Blood Vomitorium, the album is at one point referred to as Holocaust of the Dead, rather than Holocaust of Death. Now, I won’t pretend my Italian is anything beyond an intermediate level, but if that is the intended meaning of the title, in Italian I am pretty sure it would be Olocausto dei morti, otherwise, for Holocaust of Death, it would be Olocausto della morte.

Screwy naming aside, the album is, to me, a masterpiece of the late ‘90s. It does not come off as some old band trying to capitalize on its legacy by releasing a rather forced album that attempts to simultaneously fit in with the new kids while staying true to its original sound. This is a band fully reborn with a distinctive sound. To put it in context, this was the same time that Morbid Angel released Formulas Fatal to the Flesh and Nile released Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka. Holocausto de la Morte sounds like neither of these. Necrophagia did not focus on technicality or blazing speed. The focus was on mood and a really nasty, ominous sound. The guitars sound like they are breaking up when they ring out for long notes, almost like Phil dropped his amp head down a flight of stairs before recording, but the damn thing still turned on so they just used it. This is not a criticism of the guitar sound, either. I love the crackly, distorted guitars as they give a nice raw sound to the album, but they aren’t some noisy, incoherent mess, either.

The riffs on this album are often mid-paced, but the album has plenty of fast stuff as well. However, we are not talking about the same kind of fast as a band like Origin, where “fast” is just the band warming up to play really fucking fast. So, if you’re just after something that pounds away relentlessly or you think every song needs to have at least one section dedicated to nonstop guitar sweeps, this is probably not the album for you. Here, there is heavy use of dissonance and some really ominous riffing. Tempos are varied, with some songs such as “Children of the Vortex” speeding away right out of the gate, while “Cadaverous Screams of My Deceased Lover” builds on a slow, sinister-sounding motif, which builds to a faster section later in the song. The bass and drums pulse along with the guitars and actually have some room to be audible. That is one of the really great elements of this album: all of the instruments are audible. You can hear the guitars, you can hear the drums, you can hear the vocals, and you can hear the bass guitar. There is even some keyboard use on the album, but it never gets in the way of the music, instead adding to it.

The heart of Necrophagia, of course, is the frontman, Killjoy. He does not sound the same as he did in the ‘80s, but rather has developed his style more, incorporating different techniques and sounds, making his performance on this album powerful, distinctive, and intense, perhaps even nuanced, avoiding the monotony that can come from some death vocalists. Honestly, I don’t know how the hell he made these sounds without tearing up his vocal cords.

Adding to the mood and atmosphere of the album are the interludes, which utilize some sparse keyboards and vocals, before the next song comes tearing out of the speakers.

Twenty-two years on, this is still a favorite album of mine. The songs are memorable and, while cohesive as a whole, manage to be different enough from each other to take the listener on a journey, rather than just saying, “Hey, here’s some music. Ok, we’re done now.” Essentially, what I mean is, unlike many other death metal albums, where you could rearrange the songs in any order you like and the album would be pretty much the same, if you rearranged the songs on Holocausto de la Morte, it would feel different, like watching the scenes of a gruesome horror film out of order.

If you want more from your death metal than just mindless brutality and nonstop blast beats, check this one out. I would list my favorite songs from this one, but then I would probably just end up listing the whole damn album, which would defeat the purpose. Just listen to it.

Horror metal reign supreme - 90%

DaddyZeus67, November 14th, 2010

This is Necrophagia's comeback album after the band had been dead and buried for over 10 years and now a whole lot of things have changed. First off the band line-up is completely renewed now, with the singer Killjoy being the only man left from the original 80's line-up. Now we have "Anton Crowley" aka Phil Anselmo in disguise playing guitar, a fat man called Wayne Fabra on drums and then some dude called Dustin Havnen plays bass.

Now while the last album Season Of The Dead was straight forward old school death metal with zombie/gore themes, this one is a very mixed bag. Mostly the album is dominated by a groove metal sound (but don't be fooled though, Pantera this is not) but influences of black metal, doom metal and even punk can be heard. In fact this album is musically almost void of any death metal elements.

Lyrically the album revolves around horror films and there's many movie samples used in this record to emphasize Killjoy's love of old horror movies. He even dedicated this album to his favorite horror film maker Lucio Fulci (RIP) in the CD booklet.

The album starts with a heavy mid-paced song entitled Bloodfreak (named after a 70's horror film) and this song is also the band's live staple. It starts with some melodic guitar work with mid-paced drumming and a horror sample on the top. Then we get the chugging main riff and Killjoy's shrieking vocals join as well. Now Killjoy sounds a whole lot different to what he used to be, instead of vomit-like death growls/screams he does very high pitched black metal shrieks and though his voice would get a lot better on the later Necrophagia records, he sounds pretty sweet here. At 3:05 we get the fast part with black metal riffing on a punkish drum beat, and soon after that there's a quite short blast beat section as well (there's very few blast beats on this album and none of them are very fast in that George Kollias hyper-speed sense but hey, at least Wayne Fabra keeps it real and uses no triggers at all).

The song ends with a slow and melodic doom influenced part with another movie sample on the top and after that we get to Embalmed Yet I Breathe which also starts with a movie sample. This time though the song gets fast right off the bat with punk beats and chord riffs, though it does slow down in the verses. Around the 3rd minute mark there's again a slow doomy part with a spoken word piece, after which we get a really nice melodic riff. Anselmo's riffs are in no way technical but damn....they're good!

The Cross Burns Black has this weird ambientic intro which also has Maniac from Mayhem doing a guest appearance. Killjoy speaks "To live is ever to be in danger" and Maniac responds by shrieking "purity through waaaarrr!" (by the way Maniac's screams here sound very much like what Killjoy himself would sound like in the later Necrophagia albums....unintentional preview?) and this goes on for 2 minutes until the song starts with a fast-all-down-picked chug riff among a groove drum beat. At 4:30 Necrophagia go all thrash metal on us with a kickass riff and after that is a slow melodic part with another spoken passage. But suddenly at 5:33 all the instruments go silent and you get a short acoustic piece completely out of nowhere. It sounds like someone in his first week with guitar but somehow it manages to create just the perfect creepy horror atmosphere...I have no idea how Anselmo did it, but he did.

Against all scientific reasons.

Anyway after that little piece there's that beginning riff again and then the song ends, as the fast black metal number Deep Inside I Plant The Devil's Seed kicks in. Starts slowly with a melodic passage then suddenly blast beats and black metal strumming riffs kick in with Killjoy going absolutely crazy behind the mic. This is easily one of the most brutal tracks on the record and also has nice shouting back-up vocals in the chorus (DEEP INSIDE! I PLANT THE DEVIL'S SEED!) though I'm not sure whether Killjoy does this vox himself or is it someone else (doesn't really sound like Phil Anselmo though).

Burning Moon Sickness is another nice groove tune with a very simple but damn catchy main riff. There's a very melodic mid section with little orchestral keyboards and a fast punkish part right after and it works damn well. The song ends with a heavy breakdown where they just play the main riff really slow and that brings us to my favorite track on the CD as well as one of Necrophagia's best songs ever: Cadaverous Screams Of My Deceased Lover!

Talk about a fucking masterpiece here, this is the slowest, heaviest and easily the most sinister sounding song on the whole album. Phil Anselmo's doom influences become very prominent here and Killjoy's double tracked scream/growl vocals sound like the goddamn Devil himself. The lyrics are also evil as fuck and look like a real psychotic serial killer wrote them. In the 6th minute there's a fast part which just completely perfects the evil atmosphere of the song (there was blood....everywhere! THEREWASBLOODEVERYWHERE!!).

The album ends with another fast black metal song that is Children Of The Vortex and an evil sounding outro piece Hymns Of Divine Genocide.

Children Of The Vortex is a very interesting song because it actually has another guest appearance from Maniac, this time singing the whole song! Maniac has a damn sweet and sickening voice and he sounds fucking crazy here. Hymns Of Divine Genocide has eerie piano melodies and creepy film samples and it works very well as a closing track.

This is a very atmospheric record and does perfect justice to all the obscure horror cult films it's based upon. Any horror freak metalhead would jack off furiously to this and the music is interesting enough for any extreme metal fan to at least check it out. It might not be always very original but that's ok, originality is over-rated anyway. Besides, you certainly won't find many bands that sound quite like this, if any at all.

They would make one more EP sounding like this before recruiting some new members to record the Cannibal Holocaust song and then completely replacing the previous line-up (besides Killjoy himself) with new members who would then go on to record the EP Goblins Be Thine and the full-lengths Divine Art of Torture and Harvest Ritual (their best record by far).

While I do think the band's debut as well as their later albums are better than this, Holocausto De La Morte is still a damn good record. Necrophagia changed their sound completely...and STILL remained awesome! You can't say the same about that many other bands around.

Oh and they also made really nasty music videos for Bloodfreak, Embalmed Yet I Breathe, Deep Inside I Plant The Devil's Seed and Burning Moon Sickness and those are totally worth finding.

Necrophagia Steps Out From a Dormant Coffin - 85%

Byrgan, May 19th, 2006

There are some bands that will surprise their fan base by releasing an album years later with a potential for harsh consequences. Necrophagia did just that, however, apparently their premature split was because the other band members wanted to go towards a different sound and direction.

Holocausto De La Morte is a fitting horror-movie-esque title. 'Of the Dead' titles have been a staple point since movie-maker George Romero's big opus. Even going further, the front cover art displays an obsession with the Italian director Lucio Fulci's gore and horror side (fortunately Killjoy leaves out his comedy, drama and action flicks that he directed). If you scanned the track listing's subject matter, which ranges anywhere from the German movie Burning Moon to the evil drenched movie Hellraiser. Without even opening up this release, you get the impression that inside will be a horrific nightmare-induced atmosphere. This is death metal without the brutal side, but instead it contains a more paced, sensory perspective angle.

The main idea is the same as 80's Necrophagia, however the music did change quite a bit with the inclusion of many new faces. The riffs, for instance, use a dirty sound and deeper tuning. He also uses a surplus of palm mutes to carry along other varied abilities: such as quick chords or higher pitched, abstract out of tune sounding notes. A big difference is that the songs don't include solos to the mix. Even though only one guitarist is present, there is often layered guitar lines played. Using piercing, unsettling feedback from the amplifier, and heavy notes carrying the rhythm mixed with higher strings during a pick-up moment. The pace of the tracks can shift from dead slow to a quicker patterned beat, to arise many different emotions. The drums play quite differently than you might expect coming from a death metal band. He occasionally uses simple jazz-like triplets on the ride and hi-hat to keep pace. And also a fair amount of quick hits on the cymbals, and rolls throughout the drum set for fills. There aren't any pounding double-bass parts either, but even so it seems to work out the way he patterned the drum sections. During the slower areas, he adds pre-arranged beats that I think pick up the basic strummed slow notes from the guitar. Filling in the gaps to add a whole new turn of events that are more worthwhile than the standard note-for-note. Killjoy's vocals are much more high pitched compared to the 80's debut. He didn't keep up with the times and exceed onto a monotonous growl. But instead he creates many different variations with higher screams and fluctuated distortions on his vocals.

Holocausto De La Morte is a later output from the band, it proves to be a decent one at that. If you think of it as another debut, so to speak, then you might enjoy its twisted mentality more. Furthermore, this album adds horror movie intros and snippets. Basically when they add sound-bites, they mainly are played while the music is going, instead of primarily as an intro for the music to start in on; although they do that too on slight occasion.

A let down is the song 'The Cross Burns Black,' which is the least stand out track in my opinion. It doesn't capture the atmosphere due to its background synthesizer noises, and spoken words in the intro performed by Maniac from Mayhem. Therefore the song didn't pick up for me where the intro left off. And sounds slightly forced to fit in this case, because I can see the formula fairly transparently due to the unrelated sounding intro portion being cut and pasted before the music kicks in. However, this is a needle in a haystack compared to the amount of song writing that stands out on the album as a whole.

I recommend Holocausto De La Morte for a different take on their previous musical mutations. It is a similar concept to Killjoy's other decent and demented project 'The Ravenous,' which both have a similar horror concept in mind. Overall, I enjoy Necrophagia's debut 'Season of the Dead' more for its 80's death-thrash sound. However, this release should be checked out for a horror/gore film enthusiast and death metal fan.