Luciferian incantations echo through our scum-incensed crypt, an inverted skull delivered fire by a spittle-flecking naming and channeled by the full-bodied, chest-first writhing of a burning sacrifice — Where He is arisen so do riffs follow. The superior tradition of occult horror and heavy/extreme metal manifests itself in the wily, ranting occult mind palace of Brazilian black metal duo Necromante whom present their second full-length album, now in even greater service to the only dangerous cult left in underground heavy metal. ‘XI‘ spooks and shatters the mind with its horror-toned possession, a crypt borne illness in tune with the best traditions of occult-obsessed black metal’s maniac brutality in mind.

Occult minds indoctrinated by the earliest apparitions of evil heavy metal unto the early 80’s alongside the speed metallic impetus of black metal towards the end of said decade comprise the rousing attack of earliest extant works from the Brazilian duo, having found a late 70’s black/heavy metal heat in their debut EP (‘The Primitive Conception of Evil‘, 2014) which’d been notably tuneful, if not angled towards the pomposity of heavy rock more than any subsequent release. It was a fantastic beginning for the band but it was their full-length debut (‘The Magickal Presence of Occult Forces‘, 2017) that’d been the one to catch serious ears as they shifted more directly into extreme metal territory by way of bestial occult black metal. Moving away from an unpure ‘retro’ heavy metal headspace unto another, their style now evoked an long-gone early 90’s extension of blasting mid-paced Satanic horror metal a la Mystifier, Denial of God and Necromantia while still bearing the thrashing, erratic movements of the first couple Root albums and Mortuary Drape. I can’t praise that record enough, the sound is huge and the bass guitar tone is perfectly set, it kinda hits upon an Sadus-esque thread near the end (“Initiation”) while benefitting from an professional render and songwriting that’d highlighted their flair for over the top presentation. After five years they’re still practicing an ancient art form in terms of black metal but this record is tuned differently, a colder yet still very ’88-’93 black metal sort of air filling the crypt.

There hasn’t been a grand transformation of Necromante‘s style on this record so much as they’ve hit upon a perfect balance of something that is pure, timeless underground black metal in tone without cutting their heavy rock soul entirely. Beyond the horror manifesto (“The Equinox of New Aeon”) that opens the record “Lucifer Rising” hits right where it should at the start of ‘XI‘ with some of the bigger ‘rock’ riffs on the album firing off at peak intensity. Despite resembling a clear niche of occult black metal they’ve done a fine job of making this medium their own, striking harder at the severity of bestial black metal while also now even more capable of carrying a possessed heavy metal tune unto doom and back again within crassly occult, extreme works.

“Serpentine Fire” is a sort of necro-thrashing anthem (see also: “Necro Fire Angel”), an wandering cast of heretical spell that acts as the first sort of skull-smoking moment on the full listen, presenting an ancient form of nascent first-meets-second wave black metal where many musicians pulled influence from the total underground be it thrash/speed metal, doom, or death for the sake of enriching the creeping malevolence of bass-driven and oft mid-paced blasting occultism. The echoes only go as far as the shadows in reflection of the full listen as this record sends us to many realms beyond, just as ‘The Magickal Presence of Occult Forces‘ did. The solo bass presentation of “The Phoenix Glory” preceding and the dungeon synth feeling by way of “Pentacle of Fire” beyond both set and overstate the tone surrounding “XI (The Dark Night of the Soul)” as a stand out, one of the more kicking and memorable pieces on ‘XI’ which should appeal to folks who’re still high on the intensity of the last Malokarpatan record.

“The Infernal Palace & the Red Death” is a prime example of Necromante‘s handle upon the riff, a loosened neck and dancing skull that doesn’t necessarily find its maniac impulse until their propensity for slow-blasted arcane black metal movement begins to take possession of the piece. This is the result of rapt study of ancient early second wave black metal on the part of the artists, whom have the occult clattering rabidity and hollowed and cold space of a rehearsal hall to perform their incantations unobscured within, a implication of low fidelity with still plenty of power and unreal atmosphere in its voice. The album makes its final stand with “The Venom Between Gods” and it ties off the album in incredible fashion, leaning into what is probably the most Hellenic black metal inspired piece the band have come up with yet, a huge send-off before a final five and a half minute outro.

This album murdered from the first listen and though it has held up to many listens beyond, I’d have cut the final extended keyboard piece just for the sake of the loop running a bit long without a guitar whipping a riff. I definitely skipped a few times, but this didn’t hurt the replay count overall; This style, or range of styles covered here represents regular listening in terms of my own black metal habits of late and it’d fit into rotation naturally as a fine example. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (77/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
LABEL(S):Iron Bonehead Productions
RELEASE DATE:March 25th, 2022

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