Ecnephias - Necrogod
Code666 Records
Blackened Gothic Metal
10 songs (47:49)
Release year: 2013
Ecnephias, Code666 Records
Reviewed by Charles
Ask, and you shall receive. In my review of 2011’s Inferno I commented on the progress Ecnephias were making, developing from what I saw as a quite ramshackle project on Ways of Descention, towards a polished gothic black act with a great knack for poppy choruses. I concluded by expressing a desire to hear the follow-up, Necrogod. Lo and behold, into my inbox arrives a communique from Mancan, with a download link and- excitement!- promises of a box of merchandise delivered to my door. I try not to let these things bias my assessments, but bear in mind when reading this that the band are pen-friends of mine. That’s balanced by the fact that they play a style of metal that I don’t really like, so lurking between these counterposed forces hopefully there is an objective review.

Mancan bills this as a heavier, less synth-centric release than Ecnephias’s previous work. That is fair, though the keys are still a very important, and highly characteristic, element of the sound. The songwriting approach remains similar to the one which served them well on Inferno: mid-tempo, (often) extremely simple riffs underpin melodramatic gothic synth work. This combination is augmented by Mancan’s gruff vocals (alternating between bark and manly croon), and lots of super-catchy choruses. But, there are a few steps forward here that I want to highlight. First, there’s a definite concept lurking. The song titles suggest an effort to explore ancient cults and religions, which is not a new theme in metal but does provide some inspiration for compositional focus. A few tracks here, for example, delve into the kind of Eastern-inspired tonalities beloved of Nile, or Melechesh. Ecnephias never come close to the savagery or complexity of those bands, for sure, but to expect them to would completely miss the point of their music.

Second, the lead guitar work here really stands out. The ‘catchiness’ referred to above lies not just in the vocal choruses, but also in the neatly constructed instrumental harmonies that glide above the plod of the riffs. Most tracks also feature flashy solos, drawing instrumental flair into a musical template that often doesn’t really allow for it. Finally, but perhaps most importantly, I think the songwriting itself is a bit more original and inventive. I am intrigued by Ishtar, for example, which opens with quiet melodies but climaxes in a slow, strangely drifting chug. Anubis is another deceptively clever song, throwing together diverse elements including cudgelling riffs (which remind me of Metallica’s Eye of the Beholder), energetic guitar leads, and theatrical ‘woah-oh-oh’ vocal lines. See also the jilting percussive rhythms of Voodoo (also featuring guest vocals from Rotting Christ’s Sakis).

Sometimes I would like to hear more raw power. Kukulkan, for example, centres on a particularly hooky chorus, but the backbone of the band’s sound needs to be heavier. The same could be said of Kali Ma, where the rhythm guitars seem somewhat flimsy. They get it emphatically right on Leviathan, with proper, crowd-pleasing metal riffs to back up the hooks. It also goes out on a high with the storming instrumental Winds of Horus, which features more of those piercing, Eastern guitar lines and even a hint of a Dream Theater-style synth solo! In my view, these kinds of tracks are the way forward for the increasingly eclectic Ecnephias.

Killing Songs :
Winds of Horus, Leviathan- Seas of Fate, Anubis- The Incense of Twilight
Charles quoted 78 / 100
Other albums by Ecnephias that we have reviewed:
Ecnephias - Inferno reviewed by Charles and quoted 75 / 100
Ecnephias - Haereticus reviewed by Charles and quoted no quote
Ecnephias - Dominium Noctis reviewed by Charles and quoted 75 / 100
Ecnephias - Ways of Descention reviewed by Charles and quoted 65 / 100
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