Review: Necrophagist – Epitaph 9

 

  • Necrophagist
  • Epitaph
  • Technical/Death metal
  • Germany
  • 2004
  • 9/10

This album literally made me stop and think “Oh man, I’m really listening to a lot of good metal lately”. Epitaph is a shredder of a death metal record with some amazing mixing and more than a handful of surprises. It’s very much in theme with a record I recently reviewed, Retrogore by Aborted, with that older influence in the sound combined with modern techniques and vocals. It’s the kind of metal record that reminds you that these brutal dudes are in fact musicians. I’m glad I’ve been able to narrow down all of the necro bands a bit more, I can never remember which are the good ones and which are the bad. Necrophagist however, I will remember as being awesome.

It’s not that strange I haven’t heard them before today, Epitaph is their last record since 2004 and there wasn’t much preceding it. It has mixed reviews but I’m surprised honestly considering how stale the scenes were getting around then with the onset of deathcore and metalcore sensibilities. Necrophagist incorporate some of that but it’s so metal minded in it’s approach. This is a tight record lasting 32 minutes of no bullshit metal with some really nice musical orientated moments. We have crushing riffs, slapping bass, long mad af solos and aggressive melody. This album is presented beautifully and has high replay value. Chuck it on repeat in the background while you work and you’ll stop to appreciate a different part every play.

The instruments are very energetic, even when the guitar are plucking chords the drums stay in motion ever progressing forward. They are more consistent than the vocals which sometimes feel like they’re falling behind the music a little bit. Considering how fast these guys play and how technical it can be, there’s not always room for a vocalist in the composition. The vocals are solid, typically, and have a decent sense of timing – I think it would be more appreciated if it were less frequent or more specifically in places designed around those vocals a bit more. It’s not too different from vocals from Vader and other thrash focused death metal bands.

Only Ash Remains is a highlight track for fucking sure. It has an awesome bass opening reminiscent of Death. This is also a good time to note how they use melody without sounding like a shitty melodeath band: A lot of the riffs and notes are melodic but are sharp and closed. They’re like a thousand quick and tiny stabs. Towards the middle of the track is one of the coolest guitar tones I’ve heard in death metal and they use it to great effect, its pretty groovy. They return to end the track with a weird jazzy jig that blew me away when I first heard it. It’s total vibe.

Bass plays a central role in some of these tracks, actually leading the rhythm guitar instead of lead guitar licks. I love when this happens because it’s so playful and different, it brings an element of jamming as opposed to a surgically edited modern metal track. It mixes things up and keeps it from getting stale, it’s a good album to get creative energy going with some coffee. The drumming has good foot control, I love the timing on those kicks and the use of restraint during the more complex parts of the composition. The beat really ties it all together into one neat package that’s super consumable.

An essential for extreme metal fans.

 

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