Can death metal mature? Perhaps not like a fine wine but more like an angsty teenager who finally put down the Noxema and decided to work on their insides because that’s what is truly important in life. If so, Necrot’s 2020 LP (a short LP at thirty-nine minutes) is that teenager sitting in the bursar’s office in a turtleneck selecting a major based on the inherent value of that major’s ideals and humanitarian aims. That’s precisely what Necrot has done for Mortal, except with death metal and not anthropology, sociology, or some other useless degree that requires a master’s and/or doctorate in something practical to make a dent in that curriculum vitae.
Before their brilliant debut the band had three demos (two in 2012 and one in 2014) that were conveniently packaged into a compilation for release in 2016. (Thank you, Tankcrimes.) That one was reviewed by our spiritual leader and maintainer of the Last Rites ant farm, Captain, who accurately stated in the way that only he can: “Still here? Or was your head nuked by the ruthless, mutilating, toxic, exterminating, voracious, calamitous, trampling, murderous, inhuman, ravaging, mammoth barbarism of Oakland, California’s most unmerciful death metal battalion, NECROT. Thankfully, some of life’s decisions remain as simple as simple can be: If you want to get killed by some wicked-sweet death metal, get those fat-assed wallets out and pick up The Labyrinth.” Necrot was, from their inception, “wicked-sweet.”
But, my dear, sweet reader, the metal world, much like most things commercially consumed in 2020 is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately kind of world. So why are we even bothering to talk about Necrot’s history, and why in the world would I let other people at Last Rites speak for me? The answer is that Necrot rules, Last Rites rules, death metal rules, and it simply doesn’t get any simpler, more basic, or more earthquakingly bodacious than Necrot. And, on that note, I’ve got some great news for all you ADD, impetuous, “the news cycle is three months and no more”-type haters: Necrot’s Mortal fucking rules, and is probably Necrot’s best work to date, making it an album cover you can confidently airbrush all over your creepy van.
So let’s talk about Mortal a bit: The construction theory is still the same in that the foundation is built with riffs upon riffs upon bloody riffs. Each track cycles itself through a number of riffs that are good enough to be their own track or their own damn album; riffs that make you slap your knee and bang your head on the nearest piece of solid wood (or metal).
And now let’s discuss “Asleep Forever,” which is an all-time death metal track: It’s got everything from Obituary-slow crawling creepies and old school rips to shred-your-face-like-Velveeta solos. (Check out the killer shred on “Sinister Will.”) Opening with a time-tricking riff that loops over and over until you lose consciousness, “Asleep Forever” provides a perfect look at the signature composition and sound that is Necrot. They vacillate between a looped riff and a more straightforward headbanging one, using brief pauses or breaks to mark the changes in such a manner that those changes add to the drama and intensity rather than detracting from the consistency of composition.
The title track, which closes the brief crotch-melting affair, is another example or a gosh-darn certified ripper. (I’m purely speaking in death metal terms here.) Lay in your bed and let Necrot swirl over your corpse, with riff upon nasty riff chugging along at haltering speeds while their tough-but-not-tough-guy vocals (‘sup, Luca) shout ever-dizzying lyrics vehemently into your soul, which has now exited your body through what was your anus. The track also highlights what Necrot is so adept at now: change of speeds. Whether the track is pumping along led by staccato vocals, or crawling along led by didactic riffs, or launching itself into the ether led by blistering guitar solos, the band maintains their signature presence, metal hypothesis, and everything that makes them NECROT. They are, by themselves, a death metal experience.
Across the entirety of Mortal, Necrot makes sure to show you their versatility. They are adept at all pacings of death metal, and they are more than adept at creating an album that has beautiful rounded edges and a nice chocolatey center with nougat and caramel and toffee and marshmallow and nuts (unless you’re allergic to nuts). The band has never lost focus over their nine year career, despite each member playing in a myriad of other bands and tending to a dozen responsibilities outside music. They not only stand out among the volcano of bands attempting to recreate the old school death metal sound, they triumph at the top of it, creating a unique experience and pushing the genre forward.
Do not ever sleep on Necrot. Ever.