Released: July, Sepulchral Voice Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Consistency of quality in a band is something that is rarely celebrated and often overlooked. When I think of consistency, one of the first bands that come to mind is Necros Christos. Throughout a career that spans an impressive twelve years the German quartet have showcased a highly conceptual portfolio, drawing upon their various beliefs to create a gripping avant-garde death metal experience. Their latest EP, Nine Graves, was due for release in May this year but was pushed back due to various production delays. Now it is ready to be unleashed upon the masses but the question that remains is: was it worth the wait?
One of the things I've always admired about Necros Christos is their ability to utilise a variety of different instruments, such as Arabic and Indian which are reflective of the band’s cultural and spiritual awareness. This along with their natural songwriting talent makes their interludes, which feature on all of their releases, something to behold. These interludes are each named 'Temples' or ‘Gates’ and act as pillars of strength to hold the music together, as well as showing off another string in the band's musical bow.
Of course, the main songs are the primary selling point here. When I spoke to Mors Dalos Ra at the band’s London show he said that Nine Graves would be built on riffs much more than previous releases and could surprise some listeners. Whilst still keeping hold of their doom metal sound, something which they've become known for, the band push it aside a little on this EP so the influences of early Morbid Angel, Possessed and even a bit of Repugnant come to prominence. As soon as “Black Bone Crucifix” kicks in it is clear that the vocalist was true to his word; the track is awash was catchy riffs that reek of the tomb of old school death metal. I am guilty of finding a favourite track on a release and playing it to death, and this song will be played until the sound of it makes me develop a nervous twitch.
The rest of the EP continues in the same vein. The re-recording of the track of the same name from Triune Impurity Rites, “Va Koram Do Rex Satan” is just as catchy as its predecessor. “Baptized by the Black Urine of the Deceased” is also a redone effort of the demo track of the same name and proves that NC’s doom game is still strong. Hollow, echoing vocals and the funereal clang of bells create a crushing atmosphere which is interrupted by a vicious guitar solo, keeping the listener on their toes. The title track is the most likely to get the crowd whipped into a frenzy in a live setting; the consistent and energetic drumming will ensure audience attention is firmly gripped in an iron fist.
In the past, the band has been accused of dragging their songs out and whilst lengthy tracks don’t bother me in the slightest, I understand how it can irk others with a shorter attention span. With Nine Graves, each song comes in under the 8-minute mark, which is pretty standard for an NC release. However, the EP format means the length is limited and showcases the band’s new direction in easy-to-digest chunks.
Vocally, I would argue that Nine Graves is one of the strongest records Necros Christos has ever released. Mors Dalos Ra has always been on form with his gutturals but there is a new kind of hate here; a gurgling vitriol which sounds like it is rumbling through the underworld. Musically, Nine Graves takes you back to the eighties/early nineties where the old school hordes were running rampant, but with a comparatively clean production which solidifies it in the modern day.
To put it simply, I was blown away by this. As a fan of the band's back catalogue I enjoy the slight shift in musical style. For newcomers to the gospel of NC, there are plenty of good places to start but picking up Nine Graves first would do you no injustice. This EP is a strong contender for my top ten releases of the year and if this is a taste of what we can expect from the band's final album then you need to purchase a copy of this with haste.
Review by Beth Avison