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Culting, exulting - 80%

autothrall, July 22nd, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Sepulchral Voice Records

My response to Germany's Necros Christos thus far is that they rank among the more ambitious of the old school death metal throwbacks in how they incorporate loads of instrumental, ethnic vignettes as a counterbalance to the metal elements, and also have quite the eye for packaging that is no doubt responsible for a lot of hype that surrounds them. Unfortunately, I just haven't found the band's music to really live up to repeated scrutiny, being that the riff selection left a lot to be desired. Both Triune Impurity Rites and Doom of the Occult were decent albums, don't get me wrong, but I rarely found myself breaking them out to re-listen after the several mandated review spins.

So I was a little surprised when I came across "Black Bone Crucifix", because it seems like the group had examined itself and decided to get a little more in depth and charismatic with the rhythm guitars, as they weave between both occult death metal nostalgia and crawling, funereal death/doom. The riffs in this thing are both laid back and genuinely evil, the lead placement invigorating, and though they don't play with a level of extremity or saturated, obese gutturals or cavernous rhythm guitar tone that a lot of folks probably expect of that Autopsy/Incantation niche, the drums keep delightfully busy enough to give the riffs a sprightliness that amazingly does not betray their diabolism. Fuzzy and direct tremolo picked riffs give way to the slower sequences where atmospherics like organs or bells are sparingly implemented, while the solo harmonies always stick way out like patterns of candles being lit around the circumference of an ancient summoning. Vocals have a straightforward bark with a modicum of reverb, but their nihilistic tendencies weave well into the gloomy environment created by the guitars and drums. It's not like it didn't work before, it just works better this time...

As for the acoustic guitars/percussion that represent a lot of the 'temple' interludes, some purists will scoff at their presence, but I find they really place Necros Christos into their chosen context: that of the brooding, black world antiquity as seen through the lens of an early 90s death metal band. As brief as most of these are, they still seem like they required a little bit of work that they'd be catchy enough to maintain the listener's curiosity, and frankly I've always thought this was one of their more standout characteristics. But it's the meat of the matter, the death metal component, which has on this EP improved steadily, if not dramatically. The style is not much different than Doom of the Occult, it's just that note placement on cuts like "Black Bone Crucifix", "Baptized by the Black Urine of the Deceased" and "Nine Graves" itself which keeps me coming back. Quite enjoyed this.


Necros Christos - Nine Graves (EP) - 85%

ThrashManiacAYD, July 12th, 2014

The name of German black/death metallers Necros Christos has grown to carry respected weight in the underground of recent years, especially since the release of their second LP "Doom of the Occult" in 2011, as recognition for their intelligent and eerie compositions which feed off the recent re-awakening of cavernous, unrepentant sensibilities in the genre. No doubt the trend (if I dare use such a word in this context) has been partly a reaction to the ever-increasing staleness of more commercially minded death metal but the pure artistic merit cannot be ignored - all sounds come and go with the passing of the winds but what sets NC apart is their slower tempos and frequent ethnic instrumental interludes which add a rich flavour to the heavily interwoven, cascading, riffs which form their bulk. Here on lengthy stopgap EP "Nine Graves" the band don’t just merely pick up the pieces from "Doom…" with a package which could comfortably count as a full release - 9 tracks and 40 minutes - they enhance their consistency to release a highly recommended release for fan of what is today’s ‘true’ death metal sound, even more so when one considers that some of these are rerecorded versions of older tracks.

Such interludes, of which there are five included here, tread a fine line between being a useful tool for varying a band’s sound and pacing, against disrupting the essential balance and momentum which are crucial to all top extreme metal albums. Those on "Doom…" I felt veered towards the latter at times but on "Nine Graves" the closer proximity of speeds and the excellent Arabic scales and flourishes to the "Temple" interludes are much more of the former. Of the main songs the band veer between slow, “Blessed are the Sick"-styled compositions with the guitars of Mors Dalos Ra and The Evil Reverend N. cleverly intertwining complex patterns atop the deep bass tones of Peter Habura into occasional semi-fast compositions. Like the finest Autopsy material I love how evil the slow, keyboard-backed chorus of "Black Bone Crucifix" sounds; it is stately and ethereal and fully inducing of head-nodding even on my commute listening. "Nine Graves" starts at a quicker pace before slowing to plodding doom territories. Dalos Ra’s gruff, yet decipherable vocals, shine in this one before the song’s latter half is given to slow, highly pertinent dual soloing perfectly befitting the track’s doomed feel. It speaks for the EP’s quality that "Va Koram Do Rex Satan" and "Baptized by the Black Urine of the Deceased" (rerecorded from a 2004 demo version) are the less good of the four main tracks yet which are permeated with mystery and the kind of expertly composed riffs that used to be a metal stock in trade in the late 80s.

The Melechesh infused accompaniments, notably "Gate" and "Temple IV" which are full length tracks of their own, take my mind straight to the bustling arid climate of their influence through those ripening heavily plucked, distorted chords and subtle atmospheric backing. Their widespread usage and the expert lead guitar performances certify why Necros Christos alongside notable black/death luminaries of recent years like Grave Miasma and Bölzer at the forefront of yet another wellspring of artistic merit and quality rising from the uncorrupted underground.

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