Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Non Serviam - Necrotical (1998)

If Necrotical surpasses the Non Serviam debut in any way, it's that it just remembers to rock your face off much harder; the way they've taken the same elements they were championing on Between Light and Darkness and translated those into punishingly fun tracks. Perhaps they cranked up the death metal influence here a little bit, as you'll feel in a tune like "Hatred Unleashed" in the verses, but you've got still got plenty of that vintage Swedish melodeath, and some surges of obvious black metal. The sophomore doesn't really settle down for any one style more than its predecessor, but it doesn't actually need to, because this time the chords and vocals fit together in more memorable patterns, and they really lose nothing of the wider net they were casting just a year before.

Don't get too excited, because this one can't exactly rub elbows with any of the A- or B-tier successes from that Swedish scene, but if you were into albums like Night in Gales' Thunderbeast or either of the Gandalf full-lengths from Finland, you might appreciate how this is just a simpler and rocking distillation of the black and melodic death metal ingredients. The harsh vocals are more sustained and carnal, and the scarce cleans sound better placed, though still a little awkward. The drums just sound like a thunder sustaining the rest of the instruments, and they'll tear out these brief leads like in "Which Eternal Lie" that soar over the remainder. When the band gets mellow, too, they actually do well to set up the transitions back into the crushing force, but my favorite bits here are tunes like "Haunted Domains" which are just catchy as fuck headbangers which balance off the evil and the melody.

Now two of the members of this band also released Hellspell's Devil's Might, which was clearly a better produced and higher quality extension of the black metal aesthetics from Non Serviam, and I would recommend that album before either of these, despite its ugly cover. But Necrotical is one I can listen to from time to time and won't switch off once it starts, it's very straightforward in catching your attention, and while its own production isn't much better than the debut, it's just denser and darker and effective.

Verdict: Win [7/10]

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