Necrot – Lifeless Birth Review

Is there anything better than superbly written death metal? What else gets the blood pumping or gives you enough adrenaline kick to bite through a chain-link like some good old-fashioned death metal?

Weirdly, I also consider death metal to be somewhat of a comfort food for me nowadays. When I don’t know what else to listen to, I typically grab an Autopsy or Bolt Thrower album and just vibbbbeeeee, dude. They always seem to hit the spot. In 2024, I’m probably more fascinated with the genre than ever due to the influx of great bands to choose from—especially in the last 15 years. Among those bands is the Oakland-California-based morbid music masters in Necrot. Now in their lucky thirteenth year of existence, the band returns from a near-four-year hiatus with their new album Lifeless Birth, the follow-up to the splendid 2020 release Mortal, which succeeded the phenomenal 2017 debut Blood Offerings. 

Release date: April 12, 2024. Label: Tankcrimes
Lifeless Birth is more than another album for Necrot. There’s an adage, and it’s true: Bands, especially the greats, find their signature sound around the time of their third record. Without spoiling too much of the review too early, I think Necrot does just that here. Not to mention, this was accomplished after weathering several storms. Aside from the COVID-19 pandemic scrapping tour plans to promote Mortal, vocalist and bassist Luca Indrio endured Bell’s Palsy, and drummer Chad Gailey suffered from a broken back in the years since their sophomore release. Those frustrations are undoubtedly heard as Lifeless Birth is their most pummeling effort. But it’s also their most melodic, well-written, and produced, which created a massive record for the power trio.

Necrot can capture what makes old-school death metal so alluring while sprinkling in elements that make modern acts unique. Take, for example, the earworm riffs from guitarist Sonny Reinhardt heard on songs like “Cut the Cord” and “Drill the Skull.” The riffs are primitive and groovy, but they have more than just a “caveman” atmosphere. The subtle intricacies within the riffs themselves are unique to the Necrot formula. You’ll hear what I mean. How they maneuver from mid-paced, primal riffs to blazing speeds and thrashing solos is an art in and of itself. Also, that hook on “Drill the Skull” was made to bang your head while hoisting an invisible skull toward the sky—preferably while scowling.

Then, I could turn your attention to songs like “Lifeless Birth” that, while a true death metal track, also allow crustier genres to seep into its DNA. The title track is a prime example of just how critical Gailey’s work on the kit is to the holistic aura of the album, too. Alongside Indrio’s vocals, the cadence of the record is simply punishing. With that said, a massive shout-out goes to the production abilities of the Grammy award-winning producer, Greg Wilkinson, of current Autopsy and Deathgrave fame. If you’ve followed Necrot since their debut LP, you’ve become accustomed to the thickness that is Wilkinson’s production touch. They went for the hat trick this time, bringing Wilkinson back for another go-around, and to say it worked out is an understatement.

The album flows perfectly, too. Necrot essentially perfected the tracklist here, interweaving some of the more up-tempo songs like “Superior” and “Winds of Hell” at just the right time. On “Superior,” the audible bass and power of the rhythm section especially shine. And yet again, the way the inhuman instrumentation holds a symbiotic relationship with the feral vocals is a spectacle to behold. “Superior” also has my favorite riff on the entire album. I’ll let you guess which one.

Necrot leaves no room for respite on the final two tracks. “Dead Memories” showcases the band’s technical prowess, returning memories of my favorite track off Mortal, “Asleep Forever.” There’s an ebb and flow to the riffs as they bounce back and forth from soaring tremolo picking to chunkier tones before ending with my favorite solo on the album. “The Curse” is an eight-and-a-half-minute masterclass on modern death metal. Comprised of the most vital assets from the more mid-paced likes of “Cut the Cord” and “Drill the Skull” to the fire-breathing “Superior” and “Winds of Hell,” “The Curse” has it all. Also, that build-up starting at the 5:30 mark? C’mon! Flawless. The final three minutes are arguably the strongest on the record—capping off an already great piece of work.

Look, if you’ve come searching for Necrot, you’ll find Necrot on Lifeless Birth. However, they’ve genuinely taken everything, from songwriting to production, up a notch for album No. 3. Lifeless Birth is just as punishing as the Necrot you remember. Still, their songs are catchier, more technical, and—at times—more progressive than ever. Indrio, Reinhardt, and Gailey have a knack for this death metal thing. And, again, they put out their best record after overcoming so much adversity—much respect. 

If Lifeless Birth doesn’t land at the top of your Favorite Death Metal Albums of the Year list come December, it should—at the very least—sit near the top.

Oh, and one more thing—DRILLLLL THE SKULLLLLL!

Photo by Chris Johnston

Posted by Josh Heath

Taller than Glenn Danzig, but shorter than a funeral doom LP. Lover of riffs and cheesy horror films. Hot wing connoisseur. On Twitter or X, whatever: @CatacombsMedia

  1. S. Craig Zahler May 1, 2024 at 3:15 am

    Nice review. I agree with a lot of your comments about this badass band and this badass release. My favorite Necrot album remains the infectious and sinister debut, though The Curse is now my favorite Necrot cut. I saw them open for Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel a few yeas back and they were good live.
    I’m curious–do you know that Sonny Reinhardt writes the riffs? (This was somewhat implied in your review.)
    I don’t see songwriting credits on my CD, though for some reason, I thought that Luca Indrio was actually Necrot’s Steve Harris, and his vocals hit a Necros Christos-level of excellence on Drill the Skull.

    Reply

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