Confession: I occasionally take on albums because I think something nice and conventional will be an easy write-up; a type of critical palate-cleanser between the more exploratory and adventurous stuff out there. And 90 percent of the time this is the case: I get to clear my head with some tried-and-true tradition, and a hard working band gets their name out. Easy-peasy-Japanesey.
But things aren’t always so simple. Every once in a while one of these should-be straightforward reviews gets turned into a brain scrambler. Rise, Vulcan Spectre, sophomore effort from Norwegian thrashers Nekromantheon, fits this bill, and not because there is anything unconventional here, but because it is impossible to put down in words exactly how completely fucking metal this is. No amount of colorful metaphors begins to match the effect of having these sounds forcefully crammed into one’s skull. As pure brutality, this is the Klingon war blade of thrash albums, able to eviscerate your earthly person from all possible angles. As a mental corrupter, it embodies the words of “At Dawn they Sleep,” instilling you with nothing less than the Hell-born need to kill, kill, KILL, KILL!
Nekromantheon takes the best of Hell Awaits and Reign In Blood, mixes it with the most scathing of Teutonic thrash, and tosses in a bit of the black/thrash that countrymen Aura Noir specialize in (the stringy trill riffs), somehow creating a sound that is even more metal-with-a-capital-F than it appears on paper. The riffs are blinding, the drumming aggressive, the half-harsh vocals are given a delicious amount of reverb, and the pace never, ever lets up even if you beg with all of your desperate pleading the knife is still being pushed in so join your hand with that of your aggressor and complete the job.
Rise, Vulcan Spectre is utterly relentless, and the material actually gets better and more intense as the album progresses, keeping the listener obsessed with speed and gallop all the way through its jam-packed 32 minutes. The chorus of opener “Cast Down to the Void” will hook you, but the half-time, ride-cymbal-driven bridge of “Coven of the Minotaur” will further your bloodlust. Taking it up yet another notch is the nearly-Rigor Mortis-paced buzzsaw heard in both the title track and “Twelve Depths of Hades.” Each passing moment seems to bring you closer to some violent end; some extremely fun and irresistible, but very violent end.
Not much else to say. Nekromantheon plays vicious, brutal thrash, they play it extremely well, and they play it with clinical efficiency and murderous intent. Rise, Vulcan Spectre captures you with the strength of a thousand vices and only tightens its death grip, all the while awakening the beast of damnation that resides deep within the corners of your soul.
Do not attempt to contain this beast. It will not be contained. It should not be contained.