One might argue that for the first half-decade of Mors Dalos Ra aka Mors Dalos Hessam O Din Ra aka Dalos de Draconi-Gena aka Mordra “Coldstone” von Kaldesstein aka M. Gericke‘s career as a musician he hadn’t yet found his place in the German black metal underground. As a vocalist and keyboardist for Satanic black metal bands (The New Aeon, Nox Intempesta) and even Tolkien worship (Arathorn) it would seem a great wonder that he would be a pivotal, and some would argue vitally visible, figure in smaller atmospheric death metal circles. Though his vision began in amateurish fashion with awkward programmed drums and ill-concieved keyboard work Ra‘s doomed mid-paced guitar compositions were immediately a recognizable signature culling the occult death traditions of groups like Acheron and Goatlord into even purer dread. All comes to an end now as an eighteen year realization of Ra‘s ultimate vision reaches it’s clearest, most divine peak on Necros Christos‘ two hour, twenty-seven song masterpiece that is ‘Domedon Doxomedon’.
To be frank I might have been a fan of Necros Christos since the release of ‘Doom of the Occult’ (2011) but I’d never once read a lyric, looked at a song title, or read an interview until 2016 when Ra appeared in Bardo Methodology and illuminated the concept arc of his death metal band and his steadfast dedication to scholarly research of Kabbalistic mysticism. The general idea is that Necros Christos was meant to be a trinity of full-lengths that must end with his vision complete. Each record is meant to convey nine temples separated by gates in what I choose to see as a pilgrimage of sorts through the heavenly gates of the ‘afterlife’. Of course I don’t understand the lyrics or concepts of the music; Ra‘s interest in sacred numerology, pre-Judaic mysticism, and such begins to represent the same fanatical blur that I’ve seen in musicians obsessed with Luciferianism and Chaos-Gnosticism during exploratory interviews, and I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense; What is most clear is that he is less a fanatic and more a gentlemanly scholar who has found belief in God somewhere along the way. Without any hint or mindful exploration the listener couldn’t possibly know that this German blackened death metal band with a knack for atmospheric gloom was narrated by deeply spiritual themes. This revelation helped me to resolve the flippant attitude I’d developed towards lyric, theme, and concept in most extreme metal listening up until that point.
I’d first discovered ‘Doom of the Occult’ thanks to the bass credit for Tlmnn a guitarist and key member of then deep, and long underground German death metal band Drowned. Consider that this was a time where Incantation clones and atmospheric death metal saw new frontiers as they clashed and over-saturated the death metal headspace. Necros Christos were their own revelation, beyond a fascination with mythology and mysticism, in the form of a growling mid-paced death metal machine that eschewed brutal structures for their own cyclically structured, meditative aggression glancing between the blasphemic doom of contemporaries Sonne Adam and the occult crawl of Necromantia. In rewinding back to their debut full-length ‘Triune Impurity Rites’ (2007) and a decade removed from it’s release the ambition of it’s scope was more than foreshadowing for what would come, and I’d almost argue that the finale from drummer Christhammer (ex-Blood Horns) offered Necros Christos ‘heaviest’ record to date. For the guitar geared ‘Doom of the Occult’ is perhaps the best induction, though, as guitarist The Evil Reverend N. brings invaluable lead guitar skills starting at this point and he offers what is ultimately the most impressive performance on ‘Domedon Doxomedon’. If you haven’t kept up with the band since 2011 you’ve missed their absolute best work.
‘Nine Graves’ (2014) was not some throwaway dumping of leftover tracks between albums but a fully conceived piece littered with guitar riffs that contended strongly for the best of the year between speed metal influenced death metal rhythms and their most harrowing death/doom spectacle up until that point. It remains one of the most essential releases from Necros Christos and was seemingly influenced by old Italian classics like Mortuary Drape and Abhor while also complimenting the more surreal dirge of Drowned‘s full-length debut that same year. Where could they go from there? Honestly at that point I was not only ignorant to Ra’s vision but didn’t see where Necros Christos could go with their sound as they’d not really budged much in thirteen years outside of the boon provided by addition of a second guitarist. Four quiet years passed and when I saw that the new record was a three disc box set I assumed it was a compilation and that the band was pretty much dead. They weren’t so much deceased but the vision was complete.
Three albums with each made up of nine tracks weave three greater themes of what I can only assume is a mix of Kabbalistic theological themes and some arrangement based on Hebrew gematria, a system of numerical cipher. There is a full two hours of music between them and they are not necessarily meant to be powered through in one sitting, although I often have over the last several months. I don’t feel entirely comfortable extracting meaning from each of the records because I’m not entirely sure where to derive meaning, nor am I personally interested in the complex mythos that Crowley and many others borrowed so heavily from over the years, yet it clearly follows the adult life of Jesus Christ from radical rabbi to post-crucifixion guilt. I have no personal interest in these themes but it is an elaborate and poetic treatment that goes beyond generalized occult morbidity. The most important thing to me as a listener and a fan of the band is that these three main sections of the opus are related, showcase elaborate technique and clever composition while holding up as separate entities. This took some experimentation on my part as I would listen to ‘ITH א’ the first day, ‘SETH ב’ the second, and ‘TEI טטט’ the third and each are enjoyable ~40 minute pieces on their own.
Of course it all blends together in succession and the points of interest are not condensed compared to ‘Nine Graves’ or ‘Doom of the Occult’. Instead of a ripping half hour of riffs and wailing solos ‘Domedon Doxomedon’ is a patient epic that spans the breadth of Necros Christos‘ stylistic influences with ventures through occult thrash, death/doom and atmospheric blackened death metal; Yet you’ll quickly realize that without it’s wealth of intros and interludes the ‘meat’ of the album consists of nine death metal tracks that range from six to thirteen minutes with most at least hitting the eight minute mark. The compositions drift and wander within their mystic atmosphere in such a way that the mid-paced, neatly progressive guitar work appears almost uncharacteristically ornate; “Seven Altars Burn in Sin” nearly reaches the cloudy death/thrash dissociation of early Obliveon before easing into an early Opeth-like refrain. Moments like this serve to reach previously untapped ambitions and make for what I’d say is the most fully rounded and oddly progressive statement from Ra and his band mates.
Around the third full listen I found myself convinced that this third and final Necros Christos full-length wasn’t enough. Not that it isn’t some form of immersive, transcendent death metal art but rather that ‘Domedon Doxomedon’ opens more doors than it closes. Each disc has it’s moments but ‘SETH ב’ is the most inspirational set of songs as it ventures outside of previous expectations and yet it could be mistaken for the return of Goatlord or Mystifier with is rasping incantations and plodding doom rhythms. It is on that second disc that I was convinced what a meticulous masterpiece that the entirety was , like Altars of Perversion‘s latest record (or even ‘III: So Long Suckers’), that it will undoubtedly be unappreciated for years due to it’s daunting length and cryptic subject matter.
Even if I were to dig deeper into detail it would be more than a few thousand words before I could communicate the worthy depth at hand on this German death metal band’s finale. The simple fact is that it is the most polished, varied, and atmospheric work from Necros Christos yet. With four months of casual listening under my belt and about three weeks spent trying to puzzle through the intricacies of ‘Domedon Doxomedon’ I can ultimately suggest that every moment was redeeming; If you’re no fan of old school death/doom metal or scholarly high-concepts in metal you’re absolutely not a good fit for the experience. There is no more perfect apoptosis of a death metal project in recent memory.
Ruins ablaze atop mountains. 4.75/5.0
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