Necrophagia - The Divine Art Of Torture
Baphomet Records
Horror Metal
10 songs (36:36)
Release year: 2003
Reviewed by Crims

The man known as Killjoy is perhaps one of the most prolific members of the Metal community as far as music projects go (second to perhaps only Phil Anselmo who has about 8 bands going, some of them with Killjoy). One thing is for certain, as judged by most of Killjoy’s work: he is one sick, sick man. Between The Ravenous, Wurdulak, and Necrophagia, you have three bands obsessed with sickening and gore based imagery. Though musically, all three bands are different. So where does Necrophagia fit in (afterall, this could probably be considered Killjoy's main band)? Well, on The Divine Art Of Torture the band is playing Death Metal, with slight touches of Black Metal here and there. However, by Death Metal standards, this isn’t the fastest or most brutal style, instead the bands sound can be compared to Heartwork era Carcass at times. So that same kind of mid-paced, thick riff sound is somewhat present; though with Necrophagia’s own interpretation of it.

Along with Killjoy is almost a super group of sorts. Killjoy of course handles the vocals and with him on this CD are Iscariah on bass (Wurdulak, ex-Immortal); Frediablo on guitars (Gorelord, Wurdulak); Fug on guitars (Soul Forsaken, Wurdulak); Titta Tani on drums (Daemonia); and the biggest surprise of the bunch: Mirai Kawashima on keys from Japan’s avant-garde Metal masters, Sigh. So what exactly have this gruesome group of extreme metallers come up with? Well, as mentioned, a large of portion of the music on this CD has that Carcass groove, mixed with some more traditional Death and Black Metal elements. The music has its fast parts, but there are almost no blast beats to be found, so most of the music is based more on the supposed horror atmosphere than speed and aggression. For some I can see this being a relief, as I know a lot of people are getting tired of Death Metal bands just playing fast for the sake of being fast. There are still plenty of good neck breaking moments with quality usage of double bass though, and that classic quick start-stop bass pattern that Carcass used to perfection on Necrotism and Heartwork is present. The guitars are kind of fuzzy and distorted with a heavy tone; a couple of surprises do crop up here and there, such as on Maim Attraction which contains a surprisingly catchy lead. Unfortunately, there isn’t as much variation in the guitar riffs as I would like as Necrophagia sometimes repeat themselves or seem to run out of ideas. But fortunately, this doesn’t kill the CD and The Divine Art Of Torture still has its fair share of memorable guitar sections, though I don’t think I’d call them a highlight on any song, it’s more of a combination of everything.

Those of you familiar with The Ravenous will know exactly how Killjoy sounds on here. On their debut release, Assembled In Blasphemy (which I reviewed here a while ago), Killjoy listed his vocals as “corpse shrieks” in the booklet and hey, you know what, it’s probably the perfect description of what they sound like. So in that sense that band is rooted in Black Metal from a vocal perspective. The band is at their best when they focus on concise and eerie song structures. The apparent eerie atmosphere is due in part to the masterful keyboard work. It’s nothing overly technical, but it’s so simple and effective, that it’s almost brilliant. Forget your circus keys of some of these symphonic Black Metal bands, because the keyboard sound varies from song to song and usually adds a very weird texture that accentuates the horror theme of the music, as I could almost picture the synth being used in an old horror movie. Everyone else does their job well, and I think the band kept things simple on purpose.

Yes, there are some real highlights on here. The Sick Room is the most brutal song I’d say and would not seem out of place on the last Wurdulak release; the added sound effects are also a nice touch. Conjuring The Unnamable is another great song that starts of in classic Carcass fashion with the drums and guitars battling each other and then goes into one of the better-arranged songs that manages to be interesting and memorable from beginning to end. There are other highlights, especially the first group of songs, but those two are my favorite. Regrettably, there are some throw a way tracks. I suppose I can’t really call them bad, but not all songs hold my interest like The Sick Room, Conjuring The Unnamable or Blaspheme The Body does. And that’s where the CD falls short. Some tracks demand your attention and are great on the horror atmosphere while throwing in a healthy number of head banging moments, but this high quality of music isn’t present from beginning to end. Also, the lack of variation in the guitars that occurs in some tracks also detracts from the overall experience. Provided you don’t find the whole horror theme of the lyrics and sound effects+keys cheesy, I think you’ll still find that The Divine Art Of Torture has something to offer for fans of a more laid back Carcass styled Death Metal with Black Metal touches. Sure, it’s not outstanding, but Necrophagia has still given us a very good release whose strong points out weigh the short lapses in song writing quality.

Killing Songs :
Blaspheme The Body, Upon Frayed Lips Of Silence, Parasite Eve, The Sick Room, Conjuring The Unnamable
Crims quoted 77 / 100
Other albums by Necrophagia that we have reviewed:
Necrophagia - Deathtrip 69 reviewed by Charles and quoted 74 / 100
Necrophagia - Holocausto de la Morte reviewed by Danny and quoted 35 / 100
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