Prognosticated by way of angled mirror and only moonlight, the fate of the afflicted reflects a bloodied ghast or, if lucky, a pristine and healthful smile. If divination is the right word for this unholy trance that would shatter and reassemble like the rays reflected from pool to glass then the one true ‘God’ in power is whomever attends the underworld, your thusly named patron Death. Unreal as the revelation is, that the Fate’s spins that send men to Hell occur by pure chance, seals the already apparent absurdity of living. It has not been a long journey toward answers, only about three years so far, but the dowse of German death metal quartet Nekrovault already represents a great trail of fear and dangerous acts of the perpetually dark. The katoptron emits its eerie and unreal truth as if sorcery in ancient times, whirled by Bavarian fellowes raised in the murk of black metal and driven to death worship through an unrighteous collectively strung and well-weighted noose. They stoke the mind of the occultist, yet they are not occult by faith or ritual just as they align with blackened phantasm at every corner yet they are not black metal. What flings and hammers down from the hands of Nekrovault is surely fire, sparks and iron at its core but this eccentric debut full-length is a haunt, an enchantment, and unreal.
Taking inspiration from the ancient frights of Germanic folklore and all manner of death sorcery, divination, and using cryptic interpretations to encourage the unshackling of the dark within each and every human being Nekrovault manifest as a blackened death metal band that often verges on The Ruins of Beverast-esque atmospheric death/doom metal although though they hardly stand in one place long enough to wear just one hat. References to modern occult black/death metal and classic death metal leave ‘Totenzug: Festering Peregrination’ in a sort of unsure state where they communicate the appropriately named journey by sliding between everything from ‘Gateways to Annihilation’-era Morbid Angel riffs (“Basilisk Fumes”) towards melodious dark/doom influenced transcendence (“Eremitorium”) and onto what is perhaps their greatest strength in ‘Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious’ inspired breaks (“Pallid Eyes”) amidst triumphant and occasionally memorable arrangements. The most clear analogue in that sense is probably old forgotten bands like Fermenting Innards but only in the sense that they’re existing between worlds in an unnatural stasis that only wields its power by chance. Of course it is an intentional meld of each members interests and they’d had this sound pretty much in hand soon after forming in 2017. Their first demo (‘Obscure‘, 2018) was so good (well written, properly recorded) it’d warranted official and limited release as soon as it was discovered and that should speak to the high quality of ‘Totenzug: Festering Peregrination’ as well.
If it hasn’t been entirely clear up to this point, Nekrovault are primarily a death metal band. No doubt you’ll pardon the lack of clarity on my part once hearing their debut as there is this lingering sense that this is a panel’s idea of what death metal should be rather than what it is most often presented as. The wires cross between death/doom and blackened death that often link the two worlds in entirely creative ways, blending the atmospheric aspects of each so that the average Incantation or Bolt Thrower fan will get plenty of compelling riffs and some reasonable heaviness whereas the hanging ruin of modern avant-black metal looms as the passage from one burst of death to the next. This makes for an intensely atmospheric experience that somehow still manages to pull out heavy riffs amidst its flowing, melodious patterns. “Psychomanteum – Luminous Flames” plays to a bit of each strength whereas “Sepulkrator” emphasizes one of the more powerful death metal riffs on the record; Each song strings the listener on for eight full minutes and they pair perfectly yet there is no doubt Nekrovault will stick in the mind of the average listener more for their riffs than the now fairly commonplace atmospheric movements within. That isn’t to say I’d devalue those important restful moments but that they burst and boil their liquid bleakness at a high standard enjoyed by many bands.
Inspired death metal riffs, dread-inducing atmosphere, and an eternally vast presence fitting enough for its occult and folkloric obsessions ‘Totenzug: Festering Peregrination’ is not a success for its depth but instead for its inventive and consistently charming nature. There is a new and valuable dimension of Nekrovault‘s sound revealed on each track of their debut, offering a different point of focus for this more than capable band to impress with. If they manage to harness just a little bit more of the energetic soulful verve of “Eremitorium” slightly more often no doubt they’ll continue to rise far beyond expectations set herein. With that said, this is a fine album and a more than worthy debut from a relatively unknown band. I can highly recommend the full listen to folks who’re intrigued by atmospheric death metal, death/doom metal, and blackened death metal.
High recommendation. 3.75/5.0
<strong>Help Support Grizzly Butts’ goals with a donation:</strong>
Please consider donating directly to site costs and project funding using PayPal.