It’s fitting that with the constantly expanding universe of metal bands putting out records, a new Necrophagia album would land in late October of 2014. Having been one of the early gore-soaked bands in the genre, Necrophagia broke up in the late 80’s, but reformed ten years later to begin the steady stream of albums they’ve put out since then. On their latest record, the band goes for a straightforward and simplified blend of house of horror antics mixed with Entombed and Scream Bloody Gore-era Death. If I could give a name to their style (at least on this album), it would probably be: Pizza and Popcorn Death Metal – as it reminds me of those days when you go to your buddy’s house, order a pizza and click on a few horror movies. This is even further reflected through the crayon colors present on the album cover.
But they’re more than just simple kitsch, otherwise they wouldn’t merit an album review. Though their not the most intricate of groups stylistically, that doesn’t stop them from piling on some solid riffs and pounding drum beats. The dark, yet clever tongue-in-cheek, atmosphere permeates the entire album, from the satanic chanting on “Reborn through Black Mass” to The Exorcist sound-bite on “Fear the Priest” (it’s from the part where Father Karas first visits the possessed Regan McNeil and splashes her with holy water as she screams “IT BURNS!!!”…though Karas reveals to her mother later that it’s just tap water…clever indeed). Indeed, these sort of horror-tropes are old and well-worn characteristics of metal, but Necrophagia is well-placed to use them to their advantage. This gives the listener an extra layer of subject-matter to chew on, rather than yet another band singing about words that end in -ion (destruction, determination, extermination, desolation…enough already!!!).
As Killjoy says in an interview last year:
“Whiteworm Cathedral is the most straightforward Necrophagia release of our entire career. We have always taken chances and experimented in the past…Whiteworm Cathedral contains none of these elements. It's thirteen songs that are very heavy, horror filled and direct…The songs are sick and heavy but they are also catchy at times. There are alot of witchcraft and necromancy themes. It's a very personal subject matter that I have wanted to bring into Necrophagia for a long time.”
Simple, sick and heavy are three perfect words to describe the album. And it’s good to have death metal coming out in 2014 that isn’t all sweep picking and super-complicated scale patterns. Still, there is a bit of drag to this record, to where the listener gets easily distracted from the riffs on display. Readers will know how much I like things to be straightforward, but not to the point where the riffs simply repeat themselves. The guitar sound itself could have been much sharper and piercing, like that on 2005’s excellent Harvest Ritual.
But the atmosphere is there, and is well-honed for the maximum horror-movie effect. If you’re looking for a simple romp through ghouls and screams and witches and hauntings, then it’s time you visited the WhiteWorm Cathedral.
Favorite Songs: “Reborn through Black Mass”, “???”, "Fear the Priest", “The Dead Among Us”