NecromassThe Italians do like setting up strange shrouded musical cults. The likes of early Death SS, Opera IX and Mortuary Drape fit that bill well, playing stygian, witch-coven blackened metal summoned from the very bowels of hell exclusively. Here is another lot who are completely new to me but Necromass have in fact been around since the mists of 1992 and even before that to 1989 if you take them as previous incarnation Massacrator. Necromass released two albums in the 90’s but the last that was heard from them was an EP Chrysalis Gold in 1998 before apparently due to personal problems the band disappeared back into the mists of time, never to be heard from until now….

Looking at the line-up now it would appear that no less than three of their early cast are back in the band with only the drummer being completely new. This despite not having heard them before makes it likely that they are going to contain many facets of their original sound. After the Gothic tones of the title instrumental opening track we are whisked into the ‘Chapel Of Abominations’ and confronted by evil gargles from singer Ain Soph Aour and some bombastic and brutal drumming, which with the guitars whiplashing away, make the whole thing a morass of swaggering blackness. This is black metal for sure and it has the theatrical aspect one would expect from a bunch who have no problems going with the corpse-painted image and literally hamming it up for promos shots and on stage. How serious do you take it all though, are they true acolytes who practice the walk down the craggiest precipices of the left hand path or is this simply well executed fun to listen to black metal? The jury is out on that, although there is no doubting this is enjoyable. Sometimes there is always the nagging question about the authentic qualities when it comes to listening to music like this though.

There is a Swedish feel to the twin guitar assault and the hooks and melodies here are strong. The pace is pretty much all on the gallop with little in the way of let up and the elongated rasped out vocals are suitably commanding. Adding a sinister spoken word interlude does this no harm and enhances the atmosphere well before the twisting turning dark guitar riffs of ‘Scarlet Void  Of Lust’ hone a gothic romanticism to the underlying dark blackness. Proving that they should not be looked on as formulaic there is another strange part ‘Beyond the Veil of Shame and Glory,’ which is in the form of electronic pulsations emanating from the void along with some sinister beastly vocals.

At times it sounds a bit on the dated side and one wonders why the band decided it was a good time to come back and release new material but at least unlike others that are reforming and not bringing anything new to the table but simply living on past glories as a nostalgia act they have bothered to do this and the album is not one to be dismissed. As for live dates there are plenty (certainly in Italy) ahead of them  with the likes of Dark Funeral, Aborym, Necros Christos and Sadist so there is obviously a lot of people happy to worship at the Necromass once more.

(7/10 Pete Woods)