SKULL423

NECROMANTIA, Vampiric RitualsĀ  (1992, demo)

The skull:
Huge eye sockets, huge nasal cavity, big “Call me Cletus” teeth, and some of the most bad-ass looking fangs we’ve yet seen on a skull. Fangs-on-skull usually look goofy or lamely tacked on by an amateur computer “artist,” but these…yeah, I’d run the other way if I saw these white spikes of doom gnashing away, lusting for any part of my flesh. However, this is rendered less threatening by the symbol on the forehead. Designed properly, it may have added to all the evil intent, but really it just looks like a sticker from a Flash Gordon playset slapped onto his forehead. These album covers are great, the ones that take the album title and hope to reflect that title super-literally. Vampire fangs + Ritual-esque symbol on forehead = Vampiric Rituals!

The music:
The one and only “they have two bass players” black metal band from Greece. This is their second release (which actually combines two different recordings, from 1990 and 1991). Unsurprisingly it’s quite the raw ride. When they play fast, as in parts of “The Feast of Ghouls,” it’s absolutely feral despite its clumsiness. Paired with the diseased vocals it paints a bleak, creepy picture. The drumming is hilariously bad throughout, and even those bassists are a bit sketchy, but they certainly sounded more accomplished as quickly as the next year’s debut album. Too many “ooh, aren’t we a spooky lot?” keyboard parts throughout this 39-minute demo, but you have to give them credit for conjuring a vibe here, that vibe particular to the early ’90s Greek scene — strange, morbid, raw, earnest and with a certain charm. The final track, “La Mort,” is especially strange, sounding not unlike some basement recording of a dark Italian prog rock band with drunken Uncle Giorgio having taken over the mic to perform his best/worst Dracula impression. Unsettling and funny at the same time. Whether it’s Rotting Christ, Varathron or Necromantia, their ideas were more ambitious than their skills would allow in their early forms, but they did the best they could, and you have to give them each credit for their ability to craft otherworldly atmospheres. The material on this recording is a bit stiff, a bit cold, a bit low-rent, but that may be what Necromantia were going for, and it’s definitely what a ton of NWN!-worshipping kids in suburbs all over the globe will eat up these days, if packaged properly (ie. deluxe “blood pack” red vinyl with thick 54-page booklet, limited to 100 hand-numbered copies. Preferably.).
— Friar Wagner

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