Necrophagist - Epitaph

8 songs
32:54 minutes
***** *****
Relapse / Suburban


How many times have we read already on record label info sheets that this or that band are reinventing the genre and going where no one has dared to go before? And when it comes to a death metal band called Necrophagist, you might be more than doubtful at first, expecting gruesome grindcore noise. But beware, these guys are truly something else. Progressive death metal has been done before, with the genre having been defined by the likes of Death and Morbid Angel. Cynic took it also to different regions, although they were not death metal in the strictest sense of the word anymore, and the equally amazing Atheist and Pestilence were always closer to their thrash roots. Which leaves us with Necrophagist, who until now only did a self-released debut in the very late Nineties. This means that Epitaph took five years in the making, and it's worth every one of it. Already the opener Stabwound combines blast speed metal with the wickedest guitar rhythm work I have ever heard in a metal band. The next song The Stillborn One surprises with guitar soloing you wouldn't expect from a death metal band, as if Yngwie Malmsteen had chosen the extreme metal route. From there on it's more of the same, but in such a high quality that can't stop listening anymore, and I recommend that you turn the volume as high up as your neighbours allow, because the louder you listen to this, the more effective it becomes. The production is totally over-the-top, with every instrument getting the same attention, enabling you to concentrate on every aspect of this genre-breaking record. Only Ash Remains surprises at the end with a little classical melody, although I can't remember where from.

Just being progressive isn't what makes this album so groundbreaking, but it helps. The truly fantastic is how Necrophagist combine aggressive death metal, jazzy rhythms and hyper-melodic solo work into a homogenous piece of truly avant-garde metal. And although the album is rather short, this shouldn't prevent you from risking an ear, as some of the best metal albums were even shorter (and I wouldn't even have to mention Reign In Blood here). Epitaph may well prove to be a classic soon, and classics deserve the maximum rating!

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