If there’s one band out there that deserves to be acknowledged in the Death Metal world, it’s the Philadelphia-based Goreaphobia. First introduced to the Metal world in 1991 through the Relapse Records single Omen of Masochism, this group shocked a number of people with how good it was, but as the years went on, no label had picked up the band for a full-length effort. The only thing to be issued by a label was a reissue of the aforementioned single on the Relapse Singles Series Vol. 4 release, followed by another compilation in 2007. It wasn’t until recently that Goreaphobia finally, after twenty one years of being a band, issued their debut full-length recording, which was met with some pretty good remarks. Two years later, the band returns with their follow-up full-length effort, Apocalyptic Necromancy, being issued through Dark Descent Records, and one can only wonder if this will be another strong Death Metal effort or not.
The production value of Apocalyptic Necromancy is rather raw, and given the smaller labels the band has issued the last album, as well as this one on, it’s not really a surprise. Musically it feels a little muffled, though the vocals are still a little clearer then other instruments. The drums sound good and are well paced with the bass kicks being a strong thud sound, and the bass guitar itself works well in the music to add a bit of a crushing atmosphere. The guitars come off muffled the most, but still deep and come off pretty heavy with a raw atmosphere to the recording. Does any of this really work in the band’s favor? No, not necessarily, but it doesn’t really hurt the band either. The music on Apocalyptic Necromancy has a strong old-school sound yet more modern chaotic Death Metal vibe to it at times, which is established right at the start of the album with the title track “Apocalyptic Necromancy”. The song is good, the guitars are phenomenal for the solos and the random moments they go a little off-the-script, and establishes the rest of the album, but the muffled music doesn’t do much to help the album really hit the listener with that headbanging edge. “Xurroth Rreeth N ves Helm”, however, has a mid-pace to it that works for the chugging style Goreaphobia incorporates into the song, and it really makes the song a lot catchier, though there’s still no real atmosphere outside the creepier tones the slower parts of the previous track can establish.
While Goreaphobia has a strong Death Metal approach, there’s no denying some additional slight Thrash influence in the old-school Death Metal sound they play. “The Attractor”, for example, has a strong two-step bass kick going on and a heavier Thrash influence in the guitar. This finds the song’s track length to be quite shorter, which works well since anything more then a roughly three minute length would be overkill to the song, and the enrgy of this track is more present and enjoyable in the long run then some of the other tracks. The album seems to pick up and sustain a sound similar to “Xurroth Rreeth N’ves Helm” and “The Attractor” moreso then the title track, which is good since “Apocalyptic Necromancy” is not the strongest song on the release, nor is it really the most enjoyable. “Footpaths in the Vortex of Doom” is proof enough with it’s catchier music and slight groove to the Death Metal really making it a good song to headbang along to, though the audio quality sometimes just feels a little hollow and the feedback that can happen from the ringing out of the guitar here does tend to be a little more then what you would hope for. “Void of the Larva Queen” also makes a strong traditional Death Metal track, and does have a bit of “Apocalyptic Necromancy” influence to it and not really a backing groove, but it’s just an all around stronger song and it really hammers away at the listener, feeling much richer and at the same time still catchy, though very intimidating.
Apocalyptic Necromancy is one of those kinds of albums that just seems to get better as you progress through it. The release starts off rocky, but the further you get into it, the catchier the songs are, or they are just far better and more intense and enjoyable. “Darkstar Dementia” is another track well worth noting, but more for it’s slower ritualistic sound and pace. Thanks to that, the track has more of a commanding intimidation to it, especially in the drumming and how much it feeds into that ritualistic vibe until the half way point where it departs greatly for a while and seems to have more of an Egyptian vibe to the guitars. Right after that you have another catchy track with “Igigi Reactor”, which also utilizes a strong Thrash impression to it, and even “Totem of the Vulture” has that additional style influence thanks to it’s faster pace and overall heavier and much more intense performance with some deeper “gang chants” during the chorus adding more substance to the song. The album alos closes with some longer tracks, like “White Wind Spectre” which is a slower paced haunting track that has enough variety and solid material to keep the listener attentive from start to finish, as well as “Rust Worms and the Noxious Fevers They Bring”, which is actually a lot faster and not as atmospheric, but the song does come off far more brutal then anything else on here, as well as does slowly creep down in speed towards the end.
The more time you put into listening to Apocalyptic Necromancy, the better. The album does not start off that well, and even the better tracks “Xurroth Rreeth N’ves Helm” up to “Void of the Larva Queen” are not the most engaging and headbang worthy cuts, though still rather catchy and show some improvement. However, the further you get into the release, the stronger the songs get, and the more your head starts to hammer along with the music involuntarily. If you’re a Death Metal fan, the album is definitely worth checking out, especially given the faster, more Thrash oriented material that does creep up here, but with that you need to also go into it not expecting the world from the start. The production doesn’t add much either, and the atmosphere of the album is never really established, nor does the title track of the release set the tone for the rest of the material. In the end, Goreaphobia does put out a solid effort, though not all of the songs at the start of the album are jaw-droppers despite their catchier sound, and “Rust Worms and the Noxious Fevers They Bring” does seem to just cut out rather abruptly and leave it feeling slightly unfinished, and Apocalyptic Necromancy does make a suitable entry to the band’s discography, but not an effort you simply must add to your collection unless you’re already a die-hard fan of the band.