Album review: NECROPHAGIA – Whiteworm Cathedral

NECROPHAGIA - Whiteworm Cathedral

Season Of Mist – Out Now.

First formed in Ohio/USA back in 1983, Necrophagia are one of the few classic Death Metal bands which have been consistently overlooked by fans and media alike, every time a list of the most influential bands of the said genre is being complied.

Thankfully for sole remaining founding member Frank “Killjoy” Pucci, support has always been open-heartedly granted by many of his fellow-musicians, with a certain Mr. Phil Anselmo (Pantera, Superjoint Ritual, Down) even filling their ranks for a pretty significant amount of time under the pseudonym Anton Crowley.

Three years since the release of the well-received “Death Trip 36”, the band is ready to unleash another slab of horror-themed, heavy-riffed compositions – a thirteen track release entitled “Whiteworm Cathedral”.

Last time I came in contact with Nechrophagia’s music it was on a live setting, during what could only be described as a pretty intimate gig at a dark and sweaty Glasgow venue and, if I were to be really honest with you, I was not at all impressed by what I had experienced on the night.

Well, ten years or so later, my impressions of what Necrophagia stand for in musical terms has changed dramatically, as I have found the thirteen compositions on offer to be quite a delightful proposition indeed.

Riffs are heavy and groovy in equal measure, Killjoy’s vocals offer a variety of themes and sounds and eerie keyboard melodies and retro horror film samples appear in strategic positions around the album adding a very unique feel into the proceedings.

Never before had I been able to make such an association but listening to the riff-based opening track “Reborn Through Black Mass” made me realise how much Carcass’ Jeff Walker has based his singing style on that of Killjoy’s.

Operating on a groove reminiscent of that normally associated by the mighty Obituary, “Bnn” features futuristic keyboard melodies, thus sounding pretty fresh and unique while the massive groovy riffs of the follow-up “Angel Blake” are amongst the highlights of the album.

“Warlock Messiah” and “Fear The Priest” both combine atmospheric passages with massive-sounding head banging riffs in an impressive and highly successful manner while in “Elder Things” Necrophagia’s appreciation of all things Slayer is unashamedly declared. In “Coffins” the band incorporates humorous narratives in a classic-sounding theme and, while “Hexen Nacht” stirs them into later-day Satyricon ‘territory’, “Rat Witch” finds them operating on more ‘familiar’ themes.

If there is one example in this album which proves the band’s ability of creating memorable sons by employing the simplest of ideas that if indeed “March Of The Deathcorp(s)e, while the rhythmically ever-changing “Silentium Vel Mortis” offers an interesting contrast when paired with slow-paced riff-laden “The Dead Among Us”.

By the time the last few notes of the groovy same-titled opus “Whiteworm Cathedral” have been performed, there will be only one thought into your mind – how to repeat this highly enjoyable musical experience by listening again to the album in its entirety.

My original decision to review this album was taken out of professional conscience rather than a strong desire to find out what Necrophagia have been up to musically but that is all pretty irrelevant now as “Whiteworm Cathedral” is an album that has really grown on me.

Whereas most other artists would have made an ass of themselves by attempting to blend retro horror film samples with groovy Death Metal riffs, Frank “Killjoy” Pucci  is one of the few people who knows how to use the right ingredients and, in the process, create an album that is as much heavy and menacing as it is dark and atmospheric.

A big surprise but a much welcomed one nevertheless.

John Stefanis

Rating: **** (4.0/5.0)

 


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