From Zwartketterij‘s bio:
“Only 80s metal is real… ”
“…lyrics about metal, demons, spanking the bitches, alcohol and blasphemy…”
Okay, color me interested…
Holland’s Zwartketterij is comprised of members of Grimm, Walpurgisnacht, and Cirith Gorgor. The word zwartketterij comes from the Dutch word zwart, meaning black, and ketterij, meaning heresy. (Ja, gebruikte ik de Vissen van Babel om dat te vertalen.) The promo photos show the band members in bullet belts and corpsepaint. The record title prominently features the word necro. Add that up and whaddaya get…You guessed it
Filthy thrashing metal. (You probably didn’t guess that. You probably guessed kvlt black metal. You were wrong. The album title does say thrash, too, y’know.)
But here’s the catch: upon first listen this is nothing more than a nasty little bitch of a record, sloppy without being a shambles and clearly kneeling at the feet of Sodom and Bulldozer. But scratch beneath the surface, and Cult Of The Necro-Thrasher is a little bit more than the pure blackened thrash its title would suggest. To get this, take thrash and toss in a hefty appreciation of Manowar and King Diamond and WASP, lay it all on some groovy (surely) tongue-in-cheek songs about Satan and spanking the bitches, and filter the whole thing through a rawer-than-hell production. In short, mix your blackened thrash with a hearty reverence for traditional metal, and make the whole thing dirtier than Cronos screwing a pig, and here you have it…
First the (sort of) bad:
Jack Hellfire’s demented chattering rasp is awesomely awfully ragged. It’s the kind of voice you make when you and your friends have had too many $2 PBRs and you’re singing along to Darkthrone. But the occasional diversions into clean vocals take a little getting used to, to say the least. The falsettos are terrible, no question–thankfully they’re sparingly used–and while instantly alarming, the crooning does get more listenable over a few spins. (The best comparison I can make is a slightly flat Denis Belanger or maybe Kai Hansen with a head cold.) In fact, if you’re the kind of person who can tolerate sloppiness in the presence of undeniable energy, those awkward vocals would be the biggest negative strike here…(Another one could possibly be the sheer blackened goofiness of the whole thing. Again, whether that’s good or bad depends on your tolerance for such things.)
Which leads us to the good part:
Zwartketterij have made enormous sonic leaps since their first releases, 1999’s The Black Heresy and 2005’s Sodomizer Dirty Sodomizer. (If you think this one is under-produced, then track down copies of those two.) Make no mistake: this is still raw, but it’s more than listenable, and the earlier efforts were questionable in that department. This newfound “clarity” of sound allows the band’s songwriting skills to shine through. It also helps that Zwartketterij has managed to trim down their blasphemies into more concise bursts, better composed for fist-pumping, shout-along exhilaration. Whereas their earlier efforts were repetitive displays of thrash riffing lost in the grim shitty frostbitten wastes, this one is more a thrash’n’roll effort, with some truly catchy tunes like the title track and the irresistible “Lick My Chainsaw, Bitch!” In fact, I’d challenge any fan of dirty metal to listen to that one and not find themselves headbanging and chanting along to the middle section.
It seems like I say “there’s nothing new here” in every damn review. It’s like my catchphrase. But maybe it’s just that there’s nothing new in any of the records I choose. Cult Of The Necro-Thrasher falls into that weird place where it’s technically bad and qualitatively good. It’s sloppily produced and performed, but yet it’s perfectly produced and performed, considering the intent behind its production and performance. It is 80s-worshipping, after all, and there’s a level of enthusiasm, a feeling of giddy exuberance, that so many similar records lack. And, dammit, you can’t help but sing along to “Heavy Metal Raise Hell!” or “Carnival, Death, Demon.” So, yeah, there’s nothing new here, but if this type of thing is your type of thing, it’s a pretty fun nothing, so go with it.