NECROVATION – Storm the Void/Starving Grave (2023)REVIEW

It wasn’t that the Swedish death metal underground landscape was considerably smaller twenty years ago, only that the global interest in it was reserved to a very strict code of classicist conduct wherein bands like Kaamos, Repugnant and Verminous could only catch traction with the truly dedicated and even then their unique and vitality rich stabs at the form weren’t often closely inspected or appreciated enough for their well-personalized idyll until later on. It’d be another full decade of development before the well remembered, career-making stuff would come from this next generation of ‘old school’ death metal minded folks as some of the best talent went on to find commercial success in heavy rock music. Naturally some of the bigger names to have arisen during this era are quicker on the tongue than others, such as Tribulation, an early ex-thrasher conversion case who’d quickly gained traction alongside bands like Gravehammer (pre-Ensnared) and the 2003-formed Necrovation who were not far off in the distance as the first half of the 2000’s pressed on. From my perspective these Skåne-bound folks were the one that got away, the missing link to provide the potential energy for this evolution to continue beyond 2013. Their return with this long-awaited 7″ EP is not only a welcome return but a forever underground abstraction well worth championing today.

For many fans feeling the heat off of both Finland and Sweden during this time (2003-2013) the real ride started between the release of Swedish Death Metal (the book, 2007 for Scandinavia) and 2010 where we find Necrovation‘s debut full-length (‘Breed Deadness Blood‘ (2008) perfectly representative of the times, predating the oft-heralded ‘The Horror‘ by a year with its comparatively late 80’s/early 90’s death metal style which’d thrashed and ranted with considerable force well above the standard deployed by most retro-Swedish death metal boosters today. The context gained from sitting with that debut is vital here since we’d found these southernmost Sweden-based folks meeting the classicist status quo after four years of hammering away at it between two smaller releases (‘Ovations to Putrefaction‘, b/w ‘Chants of Grim Death‘) and coming out the other side asking “What’s next?” — Their answer was a brilliant point of darkness that stood tall next to relevant groups like Stench and Morbus Chron who’d similarly found the gate to the after life beyond pure death metal in the early 2010’s. The blood-painted ‘Gloria Mortus‘ 7″ EP hints in this direction, but only just waves a hand in said new direction.

The answer to escape the “formulas of death“? Progressive rock, psychedelic rock, gothic rock, post-rock influenced death metal that’d soon give way to an entirely unique form of atmospherically drafted music upheld but just a few bands. Necrovation were the ones to truly break the ice, to break through with insight into the possibilities at least one year before many of their contemporaries would as ‘Necrovation‘ (2012) completely stunned many and eh, became oddly tagged as death n’ roll for its swinging movement on a few key pieces. On a personal note this record has been a favorite, a huge inspiration and a constant recommendation on my end since release. I’ve long felt it’d unlocked so many brilliant rhythmic possibilities for traditional death metal which we find in everything from Cadaveric Fumes, Speglas and Ghastly today, not to mention smaller niches the world over. So, where have they gone with “Storm the Void” b/w “Starving Grave”, and where have they been?

Necrovation drink deep from the obscurant mania of underground death metal proper, ancient and timeless grime which informs their ragged sound design and still unholy attack on this 7″, though the magick of ‘Necrovation‘ is here in an updated form as the band deploy a certain level of inventive rock beats and ranting-in-revelation guitar work for this recording. It should feel familiar yet abstracted into the future now as we step into “Storm the Void”, a maniac step into the fire which resists the urge to repeat a riff for a few moments as Necrovation set up the grinding rhythmic aggression of the piece ’til ~1:45 minutes in. They’ve still got riffs, switching it up every fifteen seconds or less as this piece thrills in its finely detailed yet raw aggressive station.

“Starving Grave” is a malevolent, churning bout of madness driven by its kicking beats which land the piece almost on the level of the third Reveal! album when Necrovation decide to slow down. Searching lead guitar runs and stiff rhythmic posture keep the dread flowing despite these frequent dips into surreal headspace. No doubt this piece had me hanging on every word of guitarist vocalist Seb‘s sand coughing vocal as the surreal guitar solo in the last third helped to reinforce this underground death metal/obscure caustic rock feel which lands as a great point of excitement as a fan of ‘Necrovation‘. Though both pieces cause a stir here I’d found “Starving Grave” particularly pungent in terms of repeatable, captivating moments overall though if we scope out to the bigger picture both of these pieces come with such inventive detail I cannot help but foam at the ears wondering if they’re on the brink of more. Easily one of the best releases I’ve heard in February and a crucial addition to this exceptional band’s discography. A very high recommendation.

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