Review by Jason Guest
Formed in 1989 under the malevolent moniker Dethroned Empire, Tilburg’s AntropomorphiA decided that the name wasn’t grim enough to suit the music that they were churning out. And so, come 1993, with a new name came a distinct change in musical identity, morphing from a band that drew upon bands such as Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, and Bathory for inspiration into one of intense death metal brutality. But by 1999, with one well-received full length, an EP and a few demos to their name, AntropomorphiA called it a day. Or rather, a decade, as in 2009, the graveyard that houses so many death metal bands that kicked the bucket in the 90s again saw its earth move. There was a great earthquake, the sun became as black as sack cloth, and the moon became as blood, and from beneath the crusted soil emerged AntropomorphiA for round two, their sophomore album Evangelivm Nekromantia appearing in October 2012. And by Beelzebub’s balls, what a return it is.
Old school (of course) with the odd modern element chucked in, there’s a slightly black edge to the doom-laden darkness that spews forth from the speakers. After the compulsory (and pretty ordinary) ritual-like intro, the down-tempo ‘Nekrophilian Mass’ drags the album into being. Grumbling chords clash with a demented guitar line before the full ferocity of AntropomorphiA’s “nekrophilae, murder, necromancy, and necrolesbian lust” is unleashed. From here on in, Damen’ and Van Stiphout’s riffs are twisted and intense; on drums, Stubbe goes at it like a lead-booted Bordeaux grape crusher on speed; and Damen’s guttural grunts chomp away at the harrowing heft that this gargantuan trio produce.
Not once does the death metal offensive abate. And neither does the quality. ‘Fleisch’ (German for ‘flesh’, of course) is rabidly intense, its three minutes heaving in death metal chugging grimness. ‘Psuchagogia’ (the ritual of raising the dead, of course) too rams in as much violence as it can into the clenched fist of its intensity as it does doom and gloom into its eerie mid-section. But as much as it’s got balls, much like most if not all death metal, it’s got more than a few moments where you could be listening to any one of the other songs at the same time. Despite this, erm, shall we say, “trait” of death metal, there’s still enough variation between the tracks to make it a solid record.
A bruiser throughout, the album’s sound is as heavy and fetid as the scum that sinks to the bottom of the sewer (meaning the vocals – and lyrics with them – sometimes get lost in the mix). With plenty in the way of brutality and torture scarred into every aspect of the album, AntropomorphiA’s return proves to be a timely one. With countless young death metal bands emerging and doing a pretty decent job of playing in the old school style, of the bands that have returned from the mausoleum of murderous metal, with Evangelivm Nekromantia these disentombed delegates of Dutch death metal can count themselves as one of the victors.
7 out of 10
- Nekrophilian Mass
- The Mourned and the Macabre
- Debauchery in Putrefaction
- Anointment by Sin
- Impure Desecration
- Evangelivm Nekromantia