Thursday, April 5, 2018

Necrot - Blood Offerings

It's rare that a band I've never heard of before absolutely rules so hard live that they practically wipe the floor with the headliner and leave me excited to hopefully see them again. Bands are so fleeting these days, I never know if my first time seeing a band will be my last time or not. Necrot is just the band that has done everything right in my books. They opened a show last July and, paired with Undergang, were so much better than Horrendous that I immediately grabbed their album Blood Offerings. I was unaware that the band had connections to my other favorite Oakland death metal beast, Vastum, through Luca Indrio and Chad Gailey until much later. Just like Vastum destroyed me at Martyrdoom IV, Necrot destroyed me and many others opening this show. Fast forward: Necrot is playing New Jersey's smallest venue: The Meatlocker. It was a special time.

Blood Offerings is the type of album which sets a precedent for modern old school death metal. It is at once mature and stylish and yet draws on a well of influences and classics all the same. The band is configured with the heavily pronounced bassist Luca also handling vocals. He is reminiscent of your Van Drunens in richness of chords and his solid rhythm bass playing is choppy and yet cuts through the thick guitars with ease. Chad is a highlight on drums throughout, his playing a key element in Necrot's compositions, always various in mixtures of cymbal usage. Sonny Reinhardt on guitars is as capable a riff-writer as any guitarist and his ability to seamlessly blend riff styles is key to the band's ability to maintain the listener's interest. All of this is produced impeccably by Greg Wilkinson in a manner that is clear and crisp and yet also loses none of the dripping rot by which the band's old school sound hinges on.

With opener "The Blade," we are immediately thrust into the foundational influences as a decisively Swedish tone is struck early and will be carried throughout. It's not difficult to imagine that there is a distinctively UK element from bands like Bolt Thrower or Napalm Death when they dropped below light speed in their hey-day era. Reinhardt's twisting riffs also remind me of Iniquity, especially tracks "Shadows and Light" and "Breathing Machine." The band also grabs some elements from Immolation in "Blood Offerings" and "Empty Hands," with heavy reliance on tremolo riffs over chord progressions in the two tracks. "Beneath" is faster and Swedish sounding with hints of the thrashier Florida scene. In truth, there's a little morsel of everything here for death metal fans who like their death metal endlessly critiqueable and debatable.

Highlights demanding attention from me start with "Beneath." When I first heard the track's faster pace on the album immediately wrung my neck out, and Luca's exceptional vocal performance and composition pulls the listener beneath the graves with ease. "Breathing Machine" is also an absolute pummeling masterpiece chock full of memorable riffs in Iniquity's Serenadium style. It is massively catchy and also hearkens back to the chunkier Vastum tracks like "Enigma of Disgust" or "Patricidal Lust". I also love the title track, "Blood Offerings" which starts equally twisted but a transitional riff half way through - a two-element riff that has a driving chug that decays into a higher pitched hammer-on component that gives way to a noisey, cavernous solo that fades towards the track end - fights for the album's top moment.

The album ends with "Layers of Darkness," perhaps the band's most complex track from a composition standpoint. The intro starts with the album's most Bolt Thrower-esque verse. It culminates in an ascending tremolo melodic pattern over the chorus. This melodic pattern then reappears later on to tie the heavily melodic final harmony lines to the rest of the track. Through all this, Necrot are able to retain an unpredictable life to their riffs which hides the cunning structure of the track. After the band speeds up through what I call a bridge area - but it includes a second vocal rhythm and pattern and is too long to be a typical bridge - "Layers of Darkness" meanders into and out of a harmonized guitar section that relies on the earlier chorus/refrain theme.

The sad thing about Blood Offerings is that it will be very hard to top, because the songs are so memorable. The great thing about Blood Offerings is that Necrot have a huge amount of momentum behind them now. In June they were the opening band and this month they are headlining. The mix of styles and influences which seemingly run through Necrot should provide ample creative room and inspiration. Luca mentioned to me before their set that they hope to begin writing this fall after a European tour; their next album can't come fast enough for me.

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