Friday, November 2, 2018

Necronomicon - Unleashed Bastards (2018)

Unlike a few of their thrashing peers in the German underground, Necronomicon never really took some huge break from the music. Sure, there was a decade of general inactivity between Screams in 1994 and 2004's Construction of Evil, but otherwise the band has been somewhat consistent in productivity, dropping a new disc every 3-4 years. Never really among the forefront of the Teutonic titans, possibly due to the constant comparisons to Schmier and Destruction, they've actually held up pretty evenly in the quality of what they release, with a lot of average-to-decent tier albums, the best of which have been Revenge of the Beast and Pathfinder... Between Heaven and Hell, at least among their 21st century offerings. Unleashed Bastards continues the legacy of those works, another of their more elaborately written albums, which certainly sounds like no effort was spared in putting it together despite any lack of expectations that the thrash audience might have.

There are a couple flaws...for instance, the cover art is really shitty, some aberration of their Chaly like winged skull mascot superimposed with half an evil woman face, and completed by the tacky album title font. Doesn't bode well for what you're about to hear, and that's too bad, because this album delivers on many fronts. The other setback here is that, for all the detail and extravagance on exhibition throughout Unleashed Bastards, a lot of the tunes center around some really generic riffs that you've heard a thousand times before. Does Necromonicon offer enough relish on top of this fundamentally predictable core to help offset that fact? I'd say they do, because the album has a great flow to it, with plenty of variation in the riff-sets, lots of good leads and melodies applied to the duller rhythm guitars to help spice them up and keep the ears fixed. Tracks like "Forbid Me from Living" and "Imperial Hunger" really soar through the roof, not only because of these guitars but also the resonant, Schmier-like vocal quality of the band's long time axeman-singer Freddy.

He has that ability to pitch that nasty Germanic mid-range bite into the stratosphere with some great chorus-work that patches up many misgivings I'd have for some of the verse riffs. The lead guitars if a little forgettable, are all thrown in at the right times and places, and combined with the heavy use of melody there is easily an appeal here for fans of bands like Heathen, Forbidden, Paradox, Deathrow,etc. The rhythm section is rock tight with some great drum tone throughout, and busy bass-work in spots that really help lend the tunes some replay value. They'll also throw out a couple tunes with unexpected structures like "Malevolent", which takes its time ramping up to the neckbreaking. All told, this is some pro stuff here, with a production that I can't find any complaints about. The packaging might suck, but Unleashed Bastards has vaulted itself to my favorite album of their post-2000 catalog, and  second favorite only to Escalation among their entire discography. Perhaps not among my thrash picks for the year, but these guys prove why they've remained in the game for so long.

Verdict: Win [7.5/10]

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