NECROCURSE, Chaos Carnage Cataclysm  (2011, Aftermath Music)

The skull:
If you’re familiar with Marvel Comics circa the 1960s/’70s, you might remember an artist named Gene Colan. And if you do, you’ll understand why I look at the Necrocurse artwork for Chaos Carnage Cataclysm and see his style all over it. In his most macabre moments, Colan drew like he was tripping on acid with each stroke, the features of his characters eerily rendered and just slightly out of proportion. And then some of his stuff looked like quick sketches, as if he was pressed for time. Whatever the case, his is an instantly recognizable style and one relegated to comics’ old school. I’d be surprised if whoever drew this cover for Necrocurse wasn’t influenced by Gene Colan. It’s got that trippy phantasmagoria he was so good at capturing. And look at the disaster that the skull’s eyeballs have endured! (Don’t worry about the fact that there are three eyeballs pictured — a minor detail, move along, nothing to see here.) Despite the cobweb (another incidental detail — work with me here), you get the sense we’re witnessing this skull’s first moments of actually being a skull, his living human features (skin, blood, eyeballs) having been melted off just minutes before this particular frame, probably thanks to some kind of satanic curse. Like, a necro curse.

The music:
Add Necrocurse to the long resume of one Nicklas Rudolfsson (Runemagick, Deathwitch, Swordmaster, amongst others). He plays drums here, and it’s no huge surprise (or leap) that Necrocurse plays brutal Swedish death metal akin to early Runemagick. You might have guessed it already, but lemme spell it out for you: there’s not one iota of originality
here. There’s another Swedish metal luminary present, one Hellbutcher, from the much-lauded Nifelheim. You have to wonder what Mr. Butcher is getting out of this experience that he doesn’t out of Nifelheim. Fatter guitar sound? The fairly regular release schedule of a more prolific band than Nifelheim? Whatever it is, it reminds of when Glen Benton of Satanic death metallers Deicide briefly joined Satanic death metallers Vital Remains because he wanted to, you know, spread his wings. There are two songs on this 7″, the band’s debut, and they have offered a handful of other releases since, a frequency which must have Hellbutcher’s head spinning. Personally, I’d rather see a new Nifelheim album than another Necrocurse release. This band is fine, but recommended only to the anal-retentive SDM completist who cannot get enough.
— Friar Wagner


TORMENTED/BOMBS OF HADES, split (2011 War Anthem)

The skull:
Designed like a slasher movie poster from the 80s, this is a very classy cover. The massive, monocular, slightly bloody skull glares evilly, no doubt irritated by the tiny cobweb affixed to his slimy peeper. He’s got no jaw, but that just leaves more room for the songtitles, without creating a need to obscure skullparts. Basically, everything about this cover works as an homage, while still succeeding brilliantly as a big dumb skull. An unmitigated triumph of BDSery! Bravo!

The music:
Tormented are more or less straight-up Earache 1990: Entombed’s Left Hand Path with a faint but present trace of Hellbastard’s Natural Order, at least on their original track here, “Repulsion Fix”. This song is less ambitious than really anything Entombed was doing back in the day, but Tormented do their work briskly and professionally and “Repulsion Fix” is a very fun tune. Their second track is a straightfoward and fairly pointless cover of Kreator’s “Tormentor”. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the first couple Kreator albums in any case, but I think the appeal is inextricably bound up in the energy and naivety that only earnest young men can deliver. Bombs of Hades are a grimier, grittier band although the basic template is still late 80s Stockholm. More Unleashed than Entombed, perhaps. I find this willful primitivism unappealing in the main, but BoH aren’t a bad band at all. Their original tune, in addition to the obvious Stockholm nods, also strongly reminds me of several songs on Sodom’s overlooked Tapping the Vein album. Maybe this is a coincidence, but if it’s not, I at least salute the band for that. They round out the split with a cover of Loud Pipe’s “Clean Your Head.” I’ve never heard of that band, but from the sounds of it, they were just some kind of D-beat band, making this cover even less essential and interesting than “Tormentor”.
— Friar Johnsen