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Necronomicon - "Invictus" (CD)

Necronomicon - "Invictus" CD cover image

"Invictus" track listing:

1. Invictus
2. Unleashed
3. Bloody Bastards
4. Thoughts Running Free
5. Unconquered
6. Upon Black Wings
7. Face to the Wall
8. Pandora's Box
9. Before the Curtain Falls
10. Possessed By Evil (2011)

Reviewed by on June 28, 2012

"Staying within the mid-tempo, while straddling the line between thrash and power metal, is the main distinguishing factor between Necronomicon and Germany’s Big 3."

German thrash outfit Necronomicon is one of the more successful bands (five in total, mostly death metal) borrowing the title of H.P. Lovecraft’s invention. Seven full-length recordings in nearly thirty years are hardly impressive. Nearly thirty years is plenty of time to get it right, though, which Necronomicon has achieved, for the most part.

Necronomicon is a German thrash band that formed the same year as Kreator, and just like Kreator, Sodom, and Destruction—Germany’s big three thrashers—Necronomicon’s sonic onslaught contains similarities. The group has made a career out of mimicking aspects of these bands. Freddy parrots Schmier’s snarly, pseudo-power metal vociferations. Schmier’s vocals either lead to listeners overlooking his voice in favor of the music or flat out hating Destruction. Necronomicon’s latest leather and bullet belt assault “Invictus” will elicit the same response.

Freddy’s voice doesn’t fit on either side of the metal spectrum. He is neither harmonious nor abrasive, but Necronomicon’s song writing proves the band’s savior. Even with sub par vocals, many of the songs contain memorable lyrics. Each song has a simple construction with strong hooks and transitions. “How does it feel when you’re falling” from “Invictus” and the shouted chorus lines of “Bloody Bastards": “Hey we are the guys of the revolution/Hey we are the bastards you created/Hey we are the guys of the revolution/Hey we are the people that you hate” are two examples of the band’s penchant for catchy lyrics.

Rhythmically, Necronomicon never punches the turbo booster like Kreator, but creates excellent riffs and smooth transitions. Staying within the mid-tempo, while straddling the line between thrash and power metal, is the main distinguishing factor between Necronomicon and Germany’s Big 3. Andreas Nagel plays a bass solo seemingly straight out of the pages of Steve Harris on “Unconqeured,” while Freddy and Andi borrow more Maiden-isms on the next track “Upon Black Wings.” Melodies surely enhance these songs, but the bulking guitar tones and double bass rumbles propel the album. The band plays its best hand during the first picked notes of “Unconquered,” and “Unleashed.” Klaus Enderlin’s skin bashing and kick drum trashing is also noteworthy on “Pandora’s Box” and the title track.

No matter what they do, Necronomicon will remain under the radar. “Invictus” was at least released several months ago, so the group didn’t have to live under Kreator’s shadow for a few months. “Invictus” will still elicit responses such as “Destruction rip off” and a small number of Kreator fans will come upon this, but not enough to gain Kreator-like numbers. Necronomicon is a second-tier German thrash band. However, from the standpoint of the guitar playing, “Invitus” conveys enough power to at least include Necronomicon in the conversation.

Highs: Catchy guitar rhythms, slick solos, and powerful drums.

Lows: Freddy's yelling snarl is the album's weakest link.

Bottom line: The vocals will make or break this album for most listeners, and fans of Destruction should take notice.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)