Released: 2016, Season of Mist Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Montreal's Necronomicon haven't earned their reputation as Canada's answer to Dimmu Borgir or Behemoth without reason. The band's symphonic-tinged blackened death metal has developed a particularly Northern European feel and grandiosity over the years, and that certainly carries forward to their fifth and latest full length.
Advent of the Human God boasts both a Behemoth-like epic savage grace and Dimmu-esque orchestral pomp. But it also delivers a more primal ferocity and maintains the thematic air that has become Necronomicon's forte to make it sound somewhat distinctive.
The symphonic component is laid on particularly thick at the front end of the album, with the classical instrumentation and choirs of opener “The Descent” and “Okkultis Trinity” sandwiching the epic thunder of the title track – itself punctuated by string arrangements. But it becomes less prominent and more evenly distributed as things move along, until the band use Celtic Frost's magnificent minute-long death march “Innocence And Wrath” to lead into “Alchemy Of The Avatar,” which concludes the album with an orchestral flourish.
After the opulent opening trio, however, Necronomicon do a 180 and strip things bare with the blazing death metal churn of “The Golden Gods” with its slashing riffs, clattering drums and Rob “The Witch” Tremblay's gravel-throated roar. “Unification Of The Pillars” and “Crown of Thorns,” with its mammoth, bombastic hooks, follow suit, and though they do reintroduce the orchestration it is used somewhat more sparingly.
“The Fjord,” an homage to the area and people around the band's hometown of Saguenay, Quebec, where there is actually a fjord, swaps the strings for an acoustic guitar intro and builds in speed, intensity and sheer might as it moves along. “Gaia,” on the other hand, is the sort of eerie electronic interlude that is Morbid Angel's frequent go-to and seems a somewhat superfluous introduction to the raw-boned barn-burner “I (Bringer Of Light).”
Despite all of its window-dressing, there are plenty of rough edges in the production and performances – notably Mars’ nimble grinding bass lines - on Human God to give it the sort of teeth a sleeker presentation – a la Dimmu or Cradle of Filth – would lack. And while four interludes out of 11 tracks is almost certainly too many, Necronomicon keep them suitably brief and definitely score some bonus points with “Innocence And Wrath,” which sounds just as awesome here as it did in 1985 leading off Frost’s To Mega Therion.