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METAL Injection

Album Review: NECROCURSE Grip of the Dead

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An ominous chorus begins to swell as a deadpan drum is beaten in the background. A voice comes onto the microphone like a demonic preacher and begins to spew sermon. Staring at the album's cover and listening to the prophetic banter, suddenly things start to come together. The grounds will crack, the dead shall raise and the world shall be in the grip of the dead. Necrocurse is upon us!

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Grip of the Dead, the long awaited album from Swedish death metal unit Necrocurse, has finally dropped. The band has been together since 2004, though they've really only released a handful of EPs since 2011. And considering the band has also has members of Nifelheim and Runemagick, they've been busy.

What you're going to notice immediately after the eighty-seven second introduction is that this album is absolutely raw. Stripped down to the marrow, Grip of the Dead shows no shame in playing their style as rough as possible. The second track, “Necrocurse”, is almost picturesque in how garage oriented it sounds. The intro guitar lick and solo will immediately bang your head as the drums punch in, sounding like they were recorded in a small, condensed room. The whole feeling of the album being so under-produced is refreshing and will really throw you back into the 80's. It doesn't quite sound like it was recorded in a tin can, but the recording quality here is sure to please.

Those that are familiar with the style Swedish death metal will already know that this ain't your Cannibal Corpse or Exhumed death metal. Necrocurse's Swedish death metal, being more rooted in a punk aesthetic, might throw off less seasoned listeners as the structuring is more simplified and thrash/black metal influenced. The album has some great fast moments that will bang your head through and through. Pieces like “Grip of the Dead” and “Infernal Rebellion” are absolute ragers, blazing a path like wildfire.

Hellbutcher's vocal style is also more akin to something you would find in a black metal band. Shrill shrieks and screams are brutalizing and help to build insanity. Pieces like “Infernal Rebellion” will remind listeners of Emperor's “Curse You All Men!” while “Necrocurse” may bring to mind more modern black metal bands like Watain. Either way, the vocals on this album are insanely awesome and do it justice in making it feel apocalyptic.

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As excellent as Grip of the Dead can seem there isn't anything particularly mind-blowing about it when one breaks it down. Speed freaks for example will find no solace here. Some of the solos are absolute rippers but regular rhythmic sections, well woven as they are, won't turn heads, nor will the blast beat sections (though there's only a few of these). The slower sections may also lose some listeners or will compel them to skip tracks. Fans of Cannibal Corpse may feel turned off by the absence of growls and gross out lyricism. If you're not into the 80s format with, again, a punk aesthetic, then the Grip of the Dead may not hold you.

Still, despite some of its shortcomings for listeners this is still a killer piece of old school metal that deserves to be anyone's catalog. Grip of the Dead is a very good debut album for Necrocurse, even if listeners had to wait nine years for a proper full length. Grip of the Dead is a love letter done right with a solid flow. Yeah, the slow parts can drag down the album a bit but I'd be lying if I said Grip of the Dead wasn't fucking fun.

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