NECROVATION - Necrovation (AGONIA Records - LP 2012)
There was a long silence in the Necrovation camp after this Swedish band released their debut album, “Breed Deadness Blood” back in 2008. I don’t really know what caused this pause, but the truth is that the only sign of life, which Necrovation gave in the time between 2008 and 2012 was when they unleashed a 7”EP “Gloria Mundus” in 2010. I guess not many of you will even know Necrovation – and their first album, not to mention the demo or early EPs, but that’s what usually happen if the band lacks a decent promotion and appears very randomly in the metal press, etc. Hopefully now the band will make you bow your heads, since they joined a good label, which I hope will take them slightly further than Blood Harvest did.
Anyway, I was quite exited once I’ve found out that Agonia Records is about to release the second album of Necrovation. Knowing how great usually is the work of this label, as well as how much they care about each detail of their releases – plus also the fact that I can expect a vinyl version – made me happy and so I putted my preorder as soon as I could. And finally I got the LP! I didn’t go for the 100 copies limited heavy blue with white haze vinyl, I didn’t really care about it and got the black LP. Well, the design, whole layout of it – just as I’ve expected – is excellent. Necrovation went for a different type of artwork for their second album and instead of the gory, zombie type of drawings, which seem to prevail nowadays among the old styled death metal bands, they chosen something more dark and gloomy, with an excellent eerie landscape of stormy waves. The LP comes with a small booklet, with some additional pictures, hand written lyrics and the whole stylised for an old document or something like that, what also looks really well. All in all, the layout is similar to Stench’s “In Putrescence” LP, so if you liked that one, you’ll also like the packaging, in which “Necrovation” comes.
Of course – even though very important – the layout is second to the music. The sound will always be the most important and knowing the previous Necrovation releases, I was expecting something truly killer. And well… I must admit that after the first couple of listens I was kind of surprised. The band really developed a lot since “Breed Deadness Blood”, to an extent that they almost seem like a different band. Don’t worry, it still is old styled death metal, pretty much deepened in the Swedish school, but somehow “Necrovation” differs from the first album. While keeping the music as dark and obscure as possible, Necrovation played the new songs less chaotically, the whole is much less raw and aggressive than the furious attack of the debut LP. I have the feeling like Necrovation has extended their influences and so now it’s not limited just to Merciless / Nihilist / Autopsy, but into a wider range of bands and even styles. The guitars’ playing and their arrangements have changed most noticeably, it’s more melodic in many parts, more tempered, without so many (if any) chaotically furious parts and with more leads, etc. At times the music sounds very surprising, almost melancholically calm, instead of going into the full death metal blast Necrovation “experiments” with weird riffs, which sound quite disturbing at times… Just listen to “Dark Lead Dead”. I don’t really know how to take this song. In the beginning it’s pretty much like some Entombed from “Serpent Saints”, but then in the second part the song makes a huge transition into something fuckin’ weird. It calms down, slows down and sounds like a stoned doom heavy metal, closer to bands like Ghost, especially in its atmosphere, rather than to Nihilist. What is it - a psychedelic old school death metal or something? And what about “The Transition” and its soft, melancholic melodic leads and the fact that the whole song has almost nothing to do with death metal? At other times I feel like Necrovation incorporated some black metal influences as well, from bands like Deathspell Omega or Watain, in “Sepulchreal” for instance, which by the way is also a song, which stack with me most from the whole set.
So, definitely the music has surprised me, with the way Necrovation arranged it, with so many riffs, solos and patterns they’ve used. “Pulse of Towering Madness” is another example for that. With all that though I have a feeling like the music has lost some of its uncompromising aggression, which I liked so much on the demo or “Breed Deadness Blood”. Even when in such songs like “Commander of Remains” and “New Depths” Necrovation fastens up and puts some blasts, they still sound relatively mellow and not brutal. Hmm, maybe it’s due to the production? Its values are definitely big, as the album sounds truly well and clean, but at the same time it has kept the vibe of analogue recording and even live playing.
I don’t know how to rate the album. After listening to it several times, I’m still torn between pissing on it and praising for some of the most courageous and extravagant old school death metal. It takes time to get used to it, but I can’t really say that I like it as much as I did the debut LP. Of course there’s no doubt that Necrovation has found their niche and it’s probably always better to play something own and original than to repeat what others have done dozens of times before you. But I just really miss some ferocity and speed on “Necrovation”, something what would make the whole album more dynamic, because often I feel not fully impressed or sometimes even bored by it. They should have balanced all these things differently, not letting one to dominate the other. And thus I cannot make a decisive opinion yet, even though I’ve been listening to this LP a lot in the past week I’m still in the phase of getting used to it… Maybe one day I’ll like it more, or maybe I’ll hate it more. At the moment all I can say is that I feel slightly disappointed by “Necrovation”, I have expected something different… This is solid album, generally I like it, but it’s just not as killer as it should have been.
Standout tracks: “Sepulchreal”, “Necrovorus Insurrection”, “Pulse of Towering Madness”
Final rate: 70/100