If the Aqviles album felt soft, pleasant and refreshing, however deep it turned out to be, this new one from German thrash band Necronomicon is hard, in your face and uncompromising. I have to say that it's also refreshing, though, because this is thrash with the old school mentality of blistering through our brains until we're thoroughly cleaned out. They're another German thrash band I remember from back in the day, because their third album, 1988's Escalation, was everywhere in the UK at the time. I have to admit, however, that I don't believe I ever picked up its two predecessors, which is odd for me.
This is the sort of thrash I've been craving of late, full of ruthless and relentless riffs, beats and solos, but told with a strong sense of melody and told at serious pace but not without variety. It's thrash to get the blood pumping and the neck moving, even in an office chair while I work. It's not afraid of the mid tempo, but it's too busy blistering to care much about slowing down that much. Add a raspy clean voice out of the Teutonic thrash textbook and I was on board by the end of the first track.
It's good stuff from the get go that betrays its Iron Maiden influence more and more as it runs on. It's easy to hear in Purgatory, which is not a cover, I should add, though Spilling Blood sounds like it could be a cover by Kreator of something on the Somewhere in Time album, heavied up with 21st century production values. It's overt when we reach the intro to Burning the Fury, which is a little too close to Flash of the Blade, just with a different beat to back it, and that feels a little shoehorned onto the rest of the track. However, once this one ramps up to full speed, that buzzsaw guitar is just magic. I don't know how many times I turned this one up but I hope the neighbours liked it. It stops on a dime too, which is great.
There are odd problems like that overly reminiscent intro throughout, though. I understand that the German language treats certain letters differently, but, if you're going to sing in English, then a song like I am the Violence needs a V sound in its chorus, not a W. Purgatory has far too long a spoken word intro and that only serves to punctuate the album with a gap it didn't need. There are a dozen songs here, which wrap up in only just over three quarters of an hour and that's because they knuckle down to business, do their job and give way for the next blitzkrieg. Pauses like this intro don't help.
Fortunately, there's a lot of good here to balance out the little bad and then some. After that lovely shift into high gear in Burning the Fury, there's another one on the the very next track, Spilling Blood. My neck got a workout today! The soloing behind the vocals on Selling Nightmares is fantastic. A bunch of the riffs here, in songs like The Unnamed, are so bouncy that it's impossible not to move to them. The bass comes out to play often and takes our attention in a good way in songs like The Stormreaper.
And, above all, this is simply what thrash is supposed to be. A song like Me Against You really isn't the best or the most original slice of thrash ever recorded and, arguably, it's a filler track on this album, but it's still fast and it's frantic and it's furious, with a good riff and a wailing solo, and if this doesn't send the pit into a frenzy when gigs open back up, then the crowd's been dead for ten years. The Final Chapter, and I hope it isn't the final chapter for Necronomicon, may not be the best thrash album I've heard in 2021 but it's surely the furthest up my particular alley. And it came out on my fiftieth birthday! Surely this is a sign from the elder gods. I'm going to be playing this one a lot!