Album Review: Necrot – ‘Mortal’

Chaos/Transcendence

During the inaugural Decibel tour eight years ago (!), I had a somewhat lengthy discussion with late Devil’s Blood guitarist Selim Lemouchi about the difficulty of repeatedly summoning, channeling and projecting power within the context of a heavy metal show. Typically, he said, it took a great deal of work to ensure that the “mundane and trivial” details (or less-than-stellar fest lineups) didn’t dull one’s mindset or attack. “On this tour, though, I only have to watch two In Solitude songs every night and I’m… there,” he continued. “It’s done. Just seeing them electrifying themselves, the audience—creating this opening into the other world so the Devil’s Blood can step right through it. And Watain can step right through that opening… Three bands working up such a malicious maelstrom Behemoth can ride that energy towards their own ritual as well.”

I think about this exchange quite a bit. And not simply because I wish Lemouchi had chosen to, say, write a book rather than commit suicide back in 2014. To me, this idea of reverberating, ever-more esoteric and transcendent portals serving as an explosive to obliterate the next seemingly impenetrable creative wall is an intriguing one: a heavy metal chaos theory that feels extremely apropos when spinning Mortal, the preposterously fantastic trans-dimensional sophomore offering from Oakland death metal power trio Necrot.

Now, it seemed more likely than not that the follow-up to the band’s head-turning 2017 debut Blood Offerings would not disappoint. Merely meet that previously established, refined-yet-still-feral high-water mark and watch the gates of those Top 10 slots fly open. Necrot had something much more adventurous and significant than stasis on their minds over the last three years, however. As Mortal makes exceedingly clear, Blood Offerings was not a blueprint, but a blasting cap; the “malicious maelstrom” it released was not a squall, but a paradigm-scrambling superstorm. Blood Offerings was Necrot “creating this opening into the other world” and then walking their own damn selves through it.

All of which is to say, next-level Necrot is exhilarating as a motherfucker. The palette is wider and its nuances more deftly deployed. The flow is improbably natural considering the jams are serpentine and tricky enough to reveal new dimensions with each return. In short, this is the sound of a band chasing enduring greatness rather than the ephemeral bounties of the traditional album cycle.

Death metal has had a killer decade, with both young guns and legacy bands turning out oodles of top-shelf blast ‘n’ grind. It’s no small feat to ascend that heap. Yet, Mortal is a king-of-the-mountain record. The band that dreams of dethroning had better be prepared to tear a new opening in the world Necrot just created.

Review taken from the August 2020 issue of Decibel, which is available here

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