Necronomicon's Apocalyptic Nightmare is a notable advancement over their s/t debut, even if it's not quite a shedding of the band's inevitable Destruction comparisons. Volker Fredrich still sounds a hell of a lot like Schmier, with his harsh bite that ascends into feverish screaming, and the riffing is in general aggressive, with a fuzzy tone to the guitars that begs comparisons to Sentence of Death or Eternal Devastation. But in other areas, the band have clearly improved, like the lead work or the individual quality of the riffs. In fact, there are probably 2-3 songs here that are downright good, but they've still got a few hurdles to leap.
The first is that the band have made another questionable choice of their opening track. "The Ancient Ones" might have more of a vocal presence than the last album's vanguard, but a minute or so is spent just plucking along on the guitars with very little drum presence, and it feels clunky at best. Once the rest of the band joins in the punishment, there is a marked improvement, but it's not packing some of the album's better music. Nor is the mid-paced title track, but at least the guitars here don't sound like their more esteemed German peers. There is a sequel of sorts to "Dark Land", "The Following Century (Darkland II)", spotted with some decent segments, though the transitions feel sloppy; "Rhetorical Dictums" is just fast and frenzied, average thrash.
Necronomicon have saved some of their best material for the latter half of this album: "In Memory" shows some promise through its clean, eerie intro and cavalcade of storming riffs; "Retributive Strike" is solid and engaging, though I feel like it's short on vocals; and "Broken Illusions" should thrill any fan of Destruction, though it often begins to trip over itself. It, too, seems lacking on vocal quantity, which is a shame because where they exist, Fredrich is firm and vicious. The mix of the record is brighter and better than Necronomicon, and there are really only a few flaws that the band would need to work through before they had a winner on their hands. The compositions are still a little cluttered, in particular the trade off of the riffs, and there seem to be too many places on the albums where Volker's presence would have been welcome in more than just his guitar. But if you're looking for a 'poor man's Destruction or one of the rare albums to channel the same scathing defilement as Sentence of Death, then this is not a terrible place to look for it.
Verdict: Indifference [6.75/10]