It’s safe to say we are far from the creative peak and hey day of the Thrash Metal genre. This is neither a criticism nor judgement. Genres have a natural lifespan for creativity. There is only so much artists can mine creatively before new artists come along and take art into another direction. For a certain generation of metalhead though, thrash is a genre that is very much an audio form of comfort food. It happens when you grow up in the era of Metallica and Megadeth’s commercial peak. Thrash might not be where one goes to find the avant-garde music in metal, but few things excite like a great thrash tune. When the combination of punk intensity and the technical prowess of NWOBHM hit your ears, it brings a smile to the face like nothing else. Listening to Constant to Death, the twelfth album from Germany’s Necronomicon, brings that type of joy.
Necronomicon play thrash like it’s 1985 and sometimes that’s what you want. This is fast, nasty music for people who crave that lead singer Freddy both barks like James Hetfield and wails like Tom Araya. He and fellow guitarist Glenn Shannon shred with military precision on tracks like “Black Rain.” Necronomicon thankfully play with enough variety that the album never entirely sounds like a retread. The band’s lyrics use occult imagery more than most of their thrash contemporaries. The opening of track “Redemption” pays homage to the opening of Refused’s “New Noise.” This is a solid thrash metal album meant to play at full blast while driving with the windows open.
All of this said, there’s nothing really new here. Necronomicon simply play really solid thrash metal… and that’s about it. The penultimate track “Poverty Show,” with its acoustic guitars and sampled audio, sounds like something Metallica meant to leave off Master of Puppets. The guitar playing and drumming are very good but always sound a bit uninspired. Freddy and Shannon can play riffs but none of the solos and hooks really catch fire in the way Kirk Hammett, Dave Mustaine, and Kerry King’s best playing does. Drummer Rik Charron’s drumming is good but nothing close to someone like Lars Ulrich or Nick Menza. Listening to this it’s easy to understand why Necronomicon might have a 40 year career but are practically unknown outside of their native Germany.
Necronomicon’s Constant to Death is an incredibly solid thrash metal album. It sounds like something that would fit right in with the genre’s peak. Unfortunately, this strength is also the band’s weakness. This album is mainly for anyone wanting solid thrash metal. Anyone else might wonder if this album took 40 years to get released.
— D. Morris
Constant to Death is available now on El Puerto Records. For more information on Necronomicon, visit their Facebook page or Twitter.