Brimming with many a mystical delight and devilish darkness…
Released through Ripple Music on 5 October 2018
Words by Jason Guest
When Of Blood and Wine, the sophomore album from French quartet The Necromancers, hit the inbox accompanied by the usual hype that PR flood almost every e-mail with, I wasn’t expecting much. If the hype that comes with every promo were to be believed, us lot here at MR would be inundated with the next big thing and we’d be gushing over all of them and insisting that you buy them immediately. And because they were as good as the hype, your playlists, your CD and/or vinyl collections would be threatening the floorboards with their weight. Oh and you’d be skint, finding new and interesting – and possibly criminal – ways to get more cash to buy every new release. You’d be happy, but skint. And probably in prison, safely tucked away at some great distance from your treasured vast-yet-incredibly-satisfying collection. Oh woe.
But for some reason unbeknownst to me, with this one, I thought, okay, I’ll give it a go. And here I find myself, much later, the album on loop, the room shaking from the sheer doom heaviness of the riffs and the world changing shape before my very eyes thanks to the occult emanations that permeate my mind and chill my earthly soul. Taking mythology, religion, fantastical tales from European literature as inspiration and afflicted – in a good way – by an obsession with classic horror, The Necromancers’ melting pot produces many a darkened shade, each deeply enthralling, overwhelmingly captivating, and brimming with many a mystical delight and devilish darkness.
‘Join The Dead Ones’ gallops its way across the shadowy landscape, the dead summoning us into the ever-growing mists of mystery that slowly engulf and consume. ‘Erzebeth’, the bands tribute to that icon of occult metal worship Elizabeth Bathory, is understated might, this beast of a track unleashing its power in majestic galloping grooves and commanding riffs. And at just over 12 minutes long, the band set themselves the greatest of musical challenges: composing an epic that moves, that grows, that explores, expands, explodes, and is at every moment utterly gripping. Job done, and then some.
Where else can the band take us but into solitude, the Sabbath-esque title track answering the solemn call with its grave beauty. ‘Secular Lord’ propels us into the high gears with its driving riffs traversing a rich and broad dynamic range that is at once compelling and crushing. At almost 10 minutes long, with ‘Lust’, again the band take us on an epic and emotional journey, the strummed chords, hypnotic arpeggios, blues-infused lead breaks, and subtle-but-intense riffs weaving a wondrous web around us, caressing, cajoling and consuming us. All that leaves is the dark majesty of ‘The Gathering’ to close the album out. Reeking of stone chambers with death echoing through its myriad passages, the near-suffocating weight of this track is phenomenal.
Of the band, all that need be said is that their musicianship is outstanding. This is a band that knows how to draw the best out of themselves to serve the music. The vocals are melodic when they need to be, haunting when they need to be, at times abrasive, but always commanding. The guitar work, whether strumming a melancholic progression, chugging out a ten-ton riff, or burning a bluesy or blazing solo, is always remarkable. Were the bass lines to sit in the shadow of the guitar this would still be a great record, but no. Here, the bass lines embellish the tunes with as much melody as gravitas. And the sledgehammer might of the drums resonates in driving rhythms and earth-shattering beats, flourishes and fills. Together, The Necromancers are immense.
It’s not often that I close with such a blunt statement, but I see no other way to close this particular review: this is fucking brilliant! Buy it. Now.
- Join The Dead Ones
- Of Blood And Wine
- Secular Lord
- The Gathering