Season of Mist Records
May 17th, 2011
Release length: 40:17
I have updated the review with the proper track titles to avoid any confusion, and would like to thank Killjoy for pointing this error out.
Necrophagia has always been one of those underground Death Metal bands that deserve more attention and respect then what they have received. As the years go by, the band seems to claw further out from their crypt into the spotlight and receive more fans with their eerie yet brutal Horror-based Death Metal sound. The group recently issued Harvest Ritual, Vol. 1 to the frothing masses, and eagerly anticipated album through Season of Mist to their dedicated fanbase. Finally, six years later, the band issues the long awaited follow-up, but sadly, it proves to not really be a second volume of Harvest Ritual, but rather a seperate entity entitled Deathtrip 69, obvious by the artwork by tattoo artist Jake Arnette that makes one ask if the face is that of Michael Jackson or Charles Manson as it turns to rot and bone. But, that won’t matter if the album manages to really kick some ass, right?
Fans of Necrophagia know what to expect at this point. Over the years, the band has mastered creating sick and violent sounding music, but subtly adding an element of creepiness to it, mostly through some rather simple, yet very appropriate b-movie grade keyboards, as well as samples from horror films from varying cult horror films such as Evil Dead on “Naturan Demonto”. While this isn’t anything new for the band, the group seems to use a lot of audio clips this time around, both in the sheer amount, as well as in length. That doesn’t really hurt the album, as for the most part these clips become part of the music. Sadly this doesn’t really help out “Naturan Demonto”, as the song just doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere, even though the introduction of the track sets it up to be a very heavy and punishing track, ultimately caving to a more groovey and upbeat feeling music approach that doesn’t quite feel right, and typically stays there until that intro approach comes back again at the end of the song.
Deathtrip 69 starts to pick up after the first track with songs that actually feel like songs and not just extended introduction material. “Tomb With a View” makes for an interesting track that seems to break the band’s traditional sound thanks to it’s abnormally dark and atmospheric approach, being more somber and depressing, giving off the feeling of imminent death through slower music, traditional rhaspy and gutteral vocals, but a chorus that brings in clean, almost sung gang chants. “Beast with Feral Claws” makes for another good track, and comes off as one of the few songs on here that sounds like the strong Necrophagia that has been maturing over the years, incorporating those eerie keyboards with skull crushing music. “Kyra” comes in with a Crossover Thrash feel, ripping your face right off from the start and really shines through nicely. It also includes vocals done by Casey Chaos of the band Amen, which is a nice touch, though the songs just sounds very out of place.
Luckily that’s not all, as the album does seem to quit acting like filler material and start hammering away with quality material at “Beast with Feral Claws”, as many of the latter tracks here are both interesting and enjoyable. “Bleeding Eyes of the Eternally” is a solid track, though the last half breaks the creepy, evil feeling, and adorns more of an epic Heavy Metal feeling with a little Death Metal atmosphere to it. Again, not bad, but that last half really does seem to just not want to stop and go on for quite a while. “Deathtrip 69” is a fantastic track that blends a brutal sound to the music with a heavy dose of atmosphere, especially during the slower moment when the keyboards really take over, and the spoken word section causes the music to set a strong creepiness into the listener. And, for what the artwork shows and the vibe some songs give off, the closing track “Death Valley 69” makes sense as a closing track, sort of a western-like acoustic piece with an effect on the audio to give it sort of an old radio feel to it. The idea is a group of people singing to an acoustic guitar that takes that vibe and runs with it, but performs it with a small crowd of people who make themselves known by clapping at the end.
The production on this release is actually really disapointing, and seriously takes away from the bite of the album, making what had the potential to be a sinister, impressive release into an ok but nothing stunning effort. Right from the start, you can pick up on a higher pitch to the music. The guitars clearly sound like they are using the same kind of distortion pedals and trying to reach that same lower, evil sound, and even the bass is audible if you crank it up, but it doesn’t aid the effort here, as it’s just not strong enough to fill that void. Atop of that, some of the material here just feels more like padding then solid material. Aside the first track and it’s go-nowhere feeling, “Tomb with a View” is a hit or miss track, just due to how different it is, and will require some time to grow on the listener. “A Funeral for Solange” is mostly an instrumental with haunting, spoken word segments as it continues, some harmonized vocals in the back, done with an acoustic guitar with a simple set of chords, ambient keyboards, and while it’s not necessarily bad, it just isn’t all that impressive and feels tacked on, even as an introduction to “Kyra”. As mentioned, Casey Chaos of Amen appears on the album, and Maniac from Skitliv and former Mayhem member appears on this release too, though it wasn’t indicated on which track and, honestly, I couldn’t pick up on where he appears, even after numerous spins with the release. [note that this was clarified by Killjoy himself in our interview that Maniac does the spoken word intro on “Deathtrip 69”. This explains why I couldn’t figure out where he was.]
Sadly, Deathtrip 69 feels more like a clusterfuck, for lack of a better term. It’s not a bad album, but there’s just not enough solid material. In the end it feels more like an experimental release then anything due to the amount of material that sidesteps the band’s established sound and approach. The music seems to be all over the place, there’s plenty of tracks that either go nowhere, feel like filler, or go over for too long, and only a handful of good songs on the release that will have you taking notice. Couple all that together with a production quality that left this album without much of a bite, and you sadly have the makings of an album that is simply ok. Even if you’re a fan of the group, take the time to sample this release, as it’s just not the most convincing effort from Necrophagia.
01. Naturan Demonto – 4:04
02. Beast With Feral Claws – 3:49
03. Tomb with a View – 4:31
04. Suffering Comes in Sixes – 4:25
05. A Funeral for Solange – 3:27
06. Kyra – 2:46
07. Bleeding Eyes of the Eternally – 5:18
08. Trick R’ Treat (The Last Halloween) – 4:06
09. Deathtrip 69 – 5:21
10. Death Valley 69 – 2:30
|Overall Score: 5.5/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Season of Mist Records.