Thursday, March 10, 2011

Necronomicon - Revenge of the Beast (2008)

Necronomicon made an honest attempt at a comeback on 2004's Construction of Evil, but it was ultimately just not interesting or exciting enough, and frankly a little too clean and spiffy when compared to the band's more charming, rugged past of Escalation or Apocalyptic Nightmare. Revenge of the Beast seeks to repair this dilemma, and it succeeds with somewhat less than flying colors. That is to say, this is no perfect, long-due masterpiece of pure 80s speed punishment, but it's damned well the best album the band have whipped up since 20 years prior. The band is still drawing from the same well as their more famous peers Sodom and Destruction, but they do so with enough finesse to get the blood circulating and the limbs thrashing out in anger.

First, the tone here just destroys Construction of Evil. The guitars are savage and powerful, and even when fucking about with the less well-formed riffs, they sound potent enough to grind meat with. Volker Fredrich likewise sounds great, like a cousin to both Schmier and Angelripper, his sneering giving the music below all the authentic character it needs to charm the German thrash diehard. Some songs are a lot more effective than others, for example "Haunted" is a step up from the opener "Magic Forest", and "Warfare" has superb vocals over the thrashing charge in between the acoustic segues. "Nightstalker" and "On Pain of Death" deliver nothing but sheer, forceful barbarity, while later cuts like "Commit Suicide" and the ballad "One Universe" break the mold for some softer material, but don't really leave a major impression (though it's bold of Necronomicon to attempt something like "One Universe", and it might have made a curious opening cut here rather than being tucked towards the close).

What the album really lacks is, as so typical of thrash metal in the 21st century, the killer chorus. A band like Necronomicon, with 25 or more years under its belt, should understand the concept pretty well, but what we get here are the typical escalations that don't distinguish themselves in the memory of the listener, and rarely if ever stand above the riffs in the verse sequences. It's a pretty common problem, but since the rest of the formula these bands are using does so well to ape the sincerity of the 80s, why not go all the way? Thrash classics from bands as wide as Metallica, Anthrax and Kreator knew how to get you humming a song 20-30 years after the fact, but I doubt there's anything on Revenge of the Beast that will rattle around in the cranium for more than it takes to listen to the album. That being said, I must give some credit to the band for finally, after so many years, sticking it out and aiming true.

Aside from Escalation, this would be the go-to album for checking out Necronomicon. But let's hope they take the potential here and really bring us to our knees next time out.

Verdict: Win [7.25/10]

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