Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Necrophagia - A Legacy Of Horror, Gore And Sickness

Quite possibly one of the most underrated of all the early death metal progenitors, this compilation of Necrophagia's early material from 1984 through 1986 is a great addition to any metal fan's collection though it will find itself most comfortable next to your dubbed Death demos. For anyone interested in the formative years of death metal and the progression from early thrash to the next tier in brutality, "A Legacy of Horror, Gore and Sickness" is practically mandatory. And it's a beautiful release also, a real labor of love from the guy at Baphomet Records. That's a joke kiddies... Necrophagia's Vocalist Killjoy runs the label with a blood-covered hand. But this digipak from back in 2000 has been masterfully put together - great artwork, a nice preface from Mayhem's Maniac in the booklet which folds out to a 10x10 inch poster of Patrick Tremblay's cover artwork.

Tracks 1-11 are all from 1986 and are vastly superior to the 1984 tracks which make up the second half of the album in production quality. Generally, these tracks are easy to hear, enjoyable to listen to and deploy a whole host of different tempos, speeds, riffs, rhythms and structures. "World Funeral" opens the release is pure death metal fashion with crusty guitars and crispy fried vocals. The song displays where Necrophagia's power comes from - the gargled, distorted, pervertedly twisted bass tone which smears all the '86 tracks in a vicious mist of fleshy viscera. "Lust of the Naked Dead" continues with the deadly poison. "Black Apparition" is the album's most gargantuan crusher though; just under seven and a half minutes of pure death-thrash - three minutes longer than the album's second longest track, "Ancient Slumber." What really impresses me about "Black Apparition" though is the meandering, almost black metal, style of the track which evolves, breaks apart, reattaches all it's dismembered limbs and perseveres to slaughter another day.

The 1984 tracks are all rehearsal takes from presumably personal tapes which have never seen the light of day. Dirtier, rawer, and about four hundred percent noisier than the first eleven tracks, this is where Necrophagia truly prove their importance to death metal. From the first notes on "Autopsy On The Living Dead," the combinations even this short track are worth analysis. Opening with a simple rock and roll riff, progressing to an indescribable eighth-note based descending chromatic scale and then devolves into a chaotic mess... all covered with Killjoy's lovely screaming gravy. It shows a bunch of guys trying to make music more brutal than they seemingly know how to. Every one of these eighth tracks has something to say about the state of metal in 1984. They show the complex desire to combine the newer thrash with the aggression and attitude of bands like Motorhead with the evil and speed of bands like Venom.

This is not a release for every metal fan. It is not a universal album. Casual listeners will not appreciate the nuances and importance of the older 1984 tracks, and though they might pick out something from the later, 1986 tracks, the possibility that they won't appreciate how those tracks evolved is very real. I think that had the tracks been placed in chronological order by date of release, date of recording or, if possible, date of composition, that the progression from the rusty awkward attempts of turning speed metal into death metal - see "Insane For Blood" - would have made themselves more clear instead of hiding in the bushes waiting to be found. Still, I would wager that there are a ton of death metal freaks that would find this an interesting journey into the genre's past.

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