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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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