Friday, January 7, 2011

Necronomicon - Necronomicon (1986)

Had Necronomicon's s/t debut been released just a few years before, and had a more consistent quality to it, it might have been this band that we were hailing as one of the 'Big Three' of thrash metal, in place of...Destruction. I only say this because the album sounds quite a lot like Schmier and company, only far more sloppy, as if it were released before the proper amount of gestation could transpire. But the riffing methods sound very similar, the level of musical ability once they get fired up, and of course the vocals of Volker Fredrich, which sound like Schmier if he had his throat clogged with a particularly nasty head cold. In fact, Volker might even sound a little more bloodied and aggressive, but clunky and not nearly so distinct.

The biggest issue with Necronomicon in its original release was the decision to with "Dark Land", which is almost 7 minutes of choppy, mostly instrumental thrash (there are a few vocal lines in the middle) which is a roller coaster of good and bad ideas. Often, the bass will feel out of key, for example, though I recognize they were trying to create a subversive effect with it. There are also a lot of stop/start riffs which feel in desperate need of streamlining with properly written transitions, and ultimately it's a seething mess. "Possessed by Evil" and "Bloody Revenge" are improvements, with more cohesive composition, a pastiche of Destruction, Sodom and Running Wild style riffs, but neither is quite enduring, nor is the speed/rush of "Insanity" with its lengthy drum intro. You have to pluck much deeper into the album to find the better material, like the noodling bombast of "Blind Destruction", spiked walls of "Hades Invasion" or the carnal blaze of "Magic Forest", but none of these are exemplary and the riffs don't leave a lasting impression.

I hate to keep drawing the same comparison, and I'm sure the band has heard it a thousand times and hates it, but this really comes off as the poor man's Destruction (or Sodom, if we're thinking of just In the Sign of Evil and Obsessed by Cruelty). None of the songs really have that distinct quality that transforms them into legend, and the lyrical topics and guitar tones all sound as if they'd been committed to the annals of thrashistory already by the previous year. The album doesn't expand upon or even offer a worthwhile, sidereal journey to any of the ripping released that had already spawned, and it feels like more of the same, a step backward and down off the podium. Granted, it's not terrible, and it has a rugged charm to it you won't find around modern thrash metal releases today, but it's far too easily forgotten in the face of even this band's later catalog (yes, they will improve on the subsequent albums).

Verdict: Indifference [5.75/10]

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