Released: 2007, Iron Pegasus Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
If some of you have been wondering what Mike Browning (of Incubus, Morbid Angel, Nocturnus and Acheron fame) has been up to for the past years, the answer is: After Death. Mike formed the band in Tampa, Florida in 1999, in which Mike got a more ideal chance to better express his deep interest in occultism and black magic. Since then - up to this very day, After Death have recorded one unreleased EP (VIBRATIONS in 2000) and 3 demos (CONSUMED BY FIRE in 2003, REVIVING THE GODS in 2004 and SECRET LORDS OF THE STAR CHAMBER BELOW in 2006) - even if the availability of all these releases has been very limited.
Therefore it´s good to see a label like German Iron Pegasus Records stepping in and doing a great favor to all the fans of Mike Browning by releasing all this After Death material on one CD, containing nearly 75 minutes of After Death´s pleasingly atmospheric and occult Black/Death Metal.
If you only remember Mike Browning from Nocturnus, a fair word of warning is in place: Don´t expect anything as complex or technical stuff what Nocturnus did back in the day, because After Death´s Black/Death Metal rises from quite different musical grounds. To create certain, obscure and dark atmospheres behind their songs, are the main keywords for After Death, no doubts - and to make it to sound unique and original, and to make the music to stand out, are obviously some of those goals where they have succeeded in more than well, I think. The best part of this well-made compilation is the band´s latest demo, SECRET LORDS... simply because the musicianship is so tight on that demo - and because of the fact they sound more like an entire band than any of their other releases they have recorded during After Death´s history. Also, the songs on this demo are closest to Nocturnus material musically, so hopefully they´ll continue with this line-up for quite some time. All of their releases have been recorded by different line-ups, and the latest one is the best thus far. As for single details, Mike´s vocals are also great as they have ever been. Mike´s wife, Lisa Lombardo, also sings in some of the songs although I have really hard times coping with her vocal performances as they sound a bit too ´weird´ for my picky tastes. While "Temple of Cthulhu" sounds all fine and all that, I really hate Lisa´s odd (to say the least) vocals in this tune. Also, the classic Nocturnus song, "Nocturnus", off the band´s self-titled 1987 demo, which can also be found as a re-make from this compilation, would have sounded absolutely intriguing without Lisa´s irritating vocal input for the song.
However, nothing can still ruin the fact, RETRONOMICON is definitely a worth getting release. Now I can only hope After Death would get signed soon (now attention Costa!) and record their 1st real album with the line-up they have at the moment. Let´s wish a long life to After Death´s current line-up though...