posted on 7/2004 By:
Necrophagist is a name that has stirred up a lot of underground buzz in recent years, due in large part to their highly acclaimed debut Onset of Putrefaction, and the guitar virtuosity of the band’s founder and mastermind Muhammad Suicmez. Playing a stunningly dexterous breed of technical death metal in a similar vein to latter day Death, and more recently Capharnaum, Necrophagist prove themselves to be far more proficient than your average death metal outfit. However, for all this band possesses in terms of unabashed technicality, it seems to lack just as much in composing anything that “sticks”. Brilliantly executed and unfailingly technical, Necrophagist’s “Epitaph” is truly a tribute to the merits of diligent musical training. However, if technical prowess a good album did make, well then, I wouldn’t be using my copy of Rising Force as a paper weight.
To be fair, though, the cohesiveness with which this band plays raises them a notch above your average self indulgent power rock group. In fact, this band’s folly lies not in self indulgence, and more in the extreme lack of variation found on this album. You would think a group of musicians with this much skill might be able to throw a curveball or two your way. Not so. A majority of the songs move along a similar pace, with similar themes recurring frequently throughout. Eccentric, somewhat repetitious riffing mixed with sweep arpeggio flourishes followed by lightning fast solos and some quirky bass noodling all result in an initially gratifying listen, the veneer of which becomes thinner with each successive spin. Additionally, the slightly thin production which appears to showcase the bass guitar only when it is doing something “crazy”, and completely abandoning it the other 90 percent of the time, makes for an album that is generally devoid of any real heft.
Perhaps I am being a bit too harsh on Necrophagist. I’ve said it to the point of redundancy, but these guys are talented. And, this album does have its moments. The title track features an amazing guitar solo that warrants several replays and there’s an exceptional outro taken from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet on the track “Only Ashes Remain” that sounds like it came straight from an infernal carnie ride. Unfortunately, a few stellar moments are not quite enough to elevate this album above just so so. Technical death metal is an extremely tough genre to nail. Necrophagist has the skill, however, their compositional skills are in serious need of refinement. Slightly beefier production would work wonders as well. They’ve made at least one wise decision in keeping the album to a lean thirty two minutes (another way in which they are similar to Capharnaum) now they may want to take another page out of Caparnaum’s book and add some depth and variation to their arsenal.
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