Your everyday metalhead likes to think of him/herself as an iconoclastic rapscallion thumbing their nose at the lemming-like banality of the entertainment mainstream. Truthfully, however, far too many headbangers are conservatively locked into a tunnel vision theoretically on par with the squares who prejudicially equate extreme music with the sounds of rape (this hysterical presupposition was actually proposed to me very recently by a new acquaintance of mine on whom the verdict is still obviously very much out on).
As regularly as encountering someone who thinks distortion, screaming and blast beats might as well mean your mother’s being murdered and your dog’s being fucked, anyone's who has ever queued up for a gig is all too familiar with some dingus loudly pontificating about how no good metal exists post-1991, how being a fan of certain subgenres is on par with sex acts that remain illegal in some southern states and African nations, how so-and-so’s first album is the only piece of their discography worthy listening to and so on and so forth. Yessiree, the arbitrary complaints, restrictions, regulations, and elitism can reach skyward at a rocket pace!
In some cases, the bitching and whining is wholly justified—why listen to flavour of the week bands x, y and z do pale imitations of Cannibal Corpse, Slayer, Meshuggah, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and whoever else when more time could be spent with the source material. But to entirely dismiss newer bands simply because you need a pair of Nikon Prostaff 3s to see their best before date is silly, immature, unsupportive, and plain ol’ wrong. Especially when a band like Oakland’s Necrot is on the table. The death metal trio has been on a non-stop uptick since the release of 2017’s Blood Offerings, an album that allowed them to tour far, wide and extensively, dominate festival appearances and become the apple of the metal media’s eye. And rightly so. Necrot may owe large, obvious amounts of everything to a cadre of grandfatherly death metal luminaries, but they’re also paving a way forward by writing potential future classics while paying homage to, and revering, past classics.
Album opener “Your Hell” fires up the proceedings like Morgoth at the wheel of a souped-up steamroller as rapidly picked, single-note runs walk and run all over the thick strings and top half of the fretboard. “Dying Life” presents like a venomous ode to their youthful influences and home base as spindly early Atheist hammer-on/pull-off trills crash with brake-less Finnish abandon into the idea of teenage Nicke Andersson joining forces with the WCDM (that’s West Coast Death Metal) scene and the sounds purveyed by Exhumed, Acephalix, Vastum, Fetid, Gravehill, Nightfell, et al.
“Stench of Decay” and “Sinister Will” both extract a robust Unleashed influence; the former taking the Swedes out on an epic lite-beer bender, the latter incorporating ridiculously catchy saddle-sore galloping to where “Before the Creation of Time” is categorically eviscerated and includes a solo so grating it might as well fire up its own chainsaw in addition to the one the songs groovy riffing does on its own. “Malevolent Intentions” and the album's closing title track are ultimately fairly predictable slices of old-school worship, though the former is replete with shifty, power chord punching, and a two-beat thunder steered towards a mid-section which spits out a bold, split-second tempo change and a left-field rhythmic jab that is as ridiculously simple as it is effective.
Leeching energy from the cumulative experience of the band's second record is the monochromatic production style which has the potential to exhaust exhausted ears. Luckily, Mortal’s relatively quick entry and exit – seven songs total 35 minutes – makes the oppressive thick bass and soupy, thickset rhythm guitars more tolerable. Layered guitars and leads come in like fire and stand out like frosted pink buckshot with quizzical tones, wrenching note abuse, furious melodic schism, the occasional slip up into major keys, and arpeggios that’ll probably have musical theory sticklers throwing up into their own mouths.
Each of the tracks here has been borne from a combination of comprehensive touring, experience within and beyond the Necrot world (drummer Chad Gailey also plays in Mortuous, Vastum and Scolex, bassist/vocalist Luca Indrio is also a member of Acephalix and guitarist Sonny Reinhardt not only plays in a number of other bands but is also the sound guy at Oakland’s Metro) and being leery of the sophomore slump. This is the starting point for overall structural simplicity, hair-trigger immediacy, and pillage-conquer-and-move on impact of Mortal.