Album Review – Necronomicon / UNUS (2019)

Canadian powerhouses of Blackened Death Metal return with the heaviest, most obscure and most infernal opus of their undisputed 30-plus-year career.

The gates to the underworld are open once again for another onslaught of Canadian Blackened Death Metal, courtesy of the most demonic and ancient horde hailing from the city of Montreal, the one and only infernal beast Necronomicon, and you better get ready for the searing cacophony of blistering riffs, machine-like drums and a symphonic ambiance found in their brand new album, titled UNUS, the Latin word for “one”. And the band founded by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Rob “The Witch” Tremblay back in the distant year of 1988 sounds better than ever in their newborn spawn, proving why Necronomicon have been on the road for such a long period of time and, more important than that, continuously producing high-quality metal that’s just as dark and brutal as it is elegant.

Recorded at Silver Wings Studio, mixed and mastered at Darth Mader Music, and featuring a grim cover art and layout by German artist Totleben (Metal Artworks), UNUS, the crushing and cinematic follow up to the band’s 2016 opus Advent of the Human God, flawlessly combines the most infuriated elements of Death Metal with the orchestral prowess of Black Metal, creating the perfect synthesis of both genres and being highly recommended for fans of the music by Dimmu Borgir, Septicflesh, Behemoth and Deicide. Accompanied by newcomer Divider on drums, Rob takes care of all vocal duties, guitars and bass on the album, which therefore creates a very powerful and honest connection between the band’s mastermind and the music found in his new album, also showcasing all his refined skills and passion for dark music.

And Rob begins his onrush of violence and darkness in From Ashes into Flesh, featuring cryptic, phantasmagorical piano notes by guest musician Geirlioz. From the very first second we can witness how sensational Divider is on drums, setting fire to the music with his hellish beats. Put differently, what a bestial display of Symphonic Black Metal to kick off the album, with that devilish aura going on in  Infinitum Continuum, where the slashing riffs by Rob dictate the rhythm while his vocals sound a lot more Death Metal than ever, bringing an extra dosage of rage to the music. Its flammable musicality is beyond perfect for slamming into the circle pit, not to mention Rob’s incendiary guitar solo, elevating the overall quality of the album to new heights. Then it’s time for Divider to crush our skulls with his rumbling drums in Paradise Lost, a lesson in Blackened Death Metal by Necronomicon, sounding as dense and obscure as it can be and with Rob growling and roaring like a true creature from the netherworld.

The cinematic instrumental bridge The Price of a Soul sets the stage for Rob and Divider to explode our senses in the fulminating Singularis Dominus, a grandiose display of Black and Death Metal showcasing nonstop blast beats, electrifying riffs and deep, harsh growls. Put differently, it can’t get any better than this, with all that devastation being embraced by an epic aura generated by the song’s  background keys and choir, flowing like an arrow on fire in pitch black darkness until its thunderous finale. And a mesmerizing intro evolves into an Arabian nightmare entitled The Thousand Masks, with its keys bringing an extra dosage of epicness to the overall musicality, while Rob is on fire with his demonic growls and Divider keeps smashing our skulls with his blast beats.

Arising from the underworld like a fiendish entity, Necronomicon blend the aggressiveness of their trademark Blackened Death Metal with the obscurity of Blackened Doom in Ascending The Throne of Baator, feeling utterly sluggish and disturbing from start to finish and with the strident sound of its guitars being perfect for haunting your damned soul during your sleepless nights. Fhtagn is another atmospheric instrumental piece emerging from the crypts of Hades, preparing the listener for the devastating anthem Cursed MMXIX, a thrash-death-black spawn that will rip your heart out and feed it to the demons, with Rob delivering sheer darkness through his Death and Black Metal riffs and monstrous guttural vocals, resulting in what’s by far one of the heaviest and most frantic of all songs of the album. And Vox Draconis, the last song in UNUS, is just as brutal and exhilarating than its predecessors, bringing forward insanely sharp and heavy guitar solos by Rob supported by Divider’s rhythmic and precise drumming. What an epic and thunderous ending fur such grandiose album of Extreme Metal, I might say, leaving us completely disoriented and eager for more of Necronomicon’s music in a not-so-distant future.

You can get a very good sense of how somber and powerful the music found in UNUS is by listening to the full album on YouTube or on Spotify, but of course if I were you I would definitely purchase one of the best underground albums of 2019 from Necronomicon’s own BandCamp page, from the Season of Mist webstore, from the Napalm Records webstore, or from several other locations such as the FYE webstore, Waterloo Records, Apple Music or Amazon. Rob and his horde really stepped up their game in their 2016 opus Advent of the Human God, sounding extremely focused and professional back then, but there’s something about UNUS, which is by the way the “666th” album in their career,  that makes it absolutely addictive and evil, just like the fictional grimoire from H. P. Lovecraft’s horror stories that gives the band its classy name. It might be its absurd level of darkness and rage, its frantic speed, its epicness or everything at once. What really matters is that Necronomicon kicks ass in UNUS, cementing their name as one of the powerhouses of Canadian extreme music and, therefore, positioning them as the true leaders of extreme music in Canada hands down.

Best moments of the album: Infinitum Continuum, Singularis Dominus, The Thousand Masks and Cursed MMXIX.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Season of Mist

Track listing
1. From Ashes into Flesh 4:23
2. Infinitum Continuum 5:27
3. Paradise Lost 4:55
4. The Price of a Soul 1:56
5. Singularis Dominus 4:50
6. The Thousand Masks 3:20
7. Ascending The Throne of Baator 4:54
8. Fhtagn 1:59
9. Cursed MMXIX 4:13
10. Vox Draconis 4:13

Band members
Rob “The Witch” Tremblay – vocals, guitar, bass
Divider – drums

Guest musician
Geirlioz – piano on “From Ashes into Flesh”

Album Review – Lordi / Monstereophonic (Theaterror vs. Demonarchy) (2016)

This Halloween let’s all eat, drink, be scary and listen to another kick-ass Rock N’ Roll party brought forth by the most awesome horde of hair-raising monsters in the universe.

Rating4

lordi-monstereophonicOnce again it’s Halloween, or All Hallows’ Evening as many people prefer, a day dedicated to remembering the dead and to many distinct activities such as trick-or-treating, attending costume parties and carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, and there’s nothing better to set fire to that amazing celebration than the top-notch Hard Rock and Heavy Metal played by the most awesome horde of scary monsters in the universe, Finnish icons Lordi. With that said, put on your most spine-chilling costume, grab some chocolate (or beer) and head to the nearest Halloween party blowing your speakers to the music by Mr. Lordi and his (were)wolfpack, who are back with another excellent release entitled Monstereophonic (Theaterror vs. Demonarchy), the eighth studio album in their solid career.

And let me tell you that Monstereophonic (Theaterror vs. Demonarchy) is different from everything these guys have done since their inception back in 1992, with the album being divided in two distinct parts. While the first half of the album (Theaterror) showcases their classic Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, the second half of the album (Demonarchy) is conceptual and includes 6 or more minute songs that sound a lot heavier than what we’re used to, talking about the unholy gathering of The Undead Son, The Bloodsucking Count, The She-Wolf and The Witch, and their story with a little girl named Lizzy. The band also announced that their new costumes would be split in half, representing the two sides of the album. The overall production of the album is outstanding as usual, enhancing the experience of listening to our beloved monstrosities transforming the fusion of fear, love and electricity into old school heavy music.

In THEATERROR, we’re treated to one of those wicked intros by Lordi, entitled SCG8: One Message Waiting, this time with a freak named Ruiz threatening a woman from right outside her house, before the band kicks off Let’s Go Slaughter He-Man (I Wanna Be the Beast-Man in the Masters of the Universe), showcasing that great Hard Rock from the 80’s with the crisp keyboards by Hella adding an extra touch of nostalgia to the song. Moreover, as cheesy as the song and its lyrics might sound, it ends up working extremely well, being fun and energetic in its entirety. Besides, who doesn’t want to see He-Man dead, right? Anyway, Hug You Hardcore is another mid-tempo classic composition displaying a fantastic main riff by Mr. Lordi’s right-hand man Amen (just don’t ask me to talk about the lyrics), whereas Down with the Devil can be considered a newborn Hard Rock hymn, from its hellish riffs and keyboards to its spooky lyrics (“They say the devil dressed me / They hear him speak when I speak / They say I’m lost and damned / But I know damn well just where I am”). It’s a mandatory choice for the soundtrack to the most awesome Halloween party you can think of (and the best song of the album in my opinion), with its catchier-than-hell chorus getting even more awesome due to the song’s classy backing vocals.

Slowing down and getting more obscure, Mary Is Dead tells the sad story of how the death of a woman was kept a secret by her lover (who was also her killer, by the way), with Hella kicking ass with her melancholic notes while Mana delivers his precise doomed beats; followed by Sick Flick, another old school Lordi chant offered to the listener.  The band makes a statement that the Rock N’ Roll party is just starting through the song’s upbeat rhythm and the excellent riffs and solos blasted by Amen. Once again we face cheesy lyrics inspired by classic Hard Rock from the 80’s with a horror movie twist, and once again that works perfectly. And the end of Theaterror couldn’t sound more Lordi than None for One, bringing forward all the elements we expect in their music. Furthermore, Lordi’s kitchen architects Ox, Mana and Hella craft such an inspiring ambience with their instruments it’s impossible to stand still to the beat of the song.

lordi-2016An eerie intro named SCG VIII: Opening Scene informs the listener the second part of the album, the conceptual DEMONARCHY, is about to begin, and it’s time for some brutal Heavy Metal with Demonarchy, with Mana pounding his drums while Amen is on fire with his riffs. This is by far the most aggressive composition of the whole album, a sensational display of what Mr. Lordi and his crew can do when they get truly heavy with the creepy keyboards by the sexy doll Hella embellishing the overall result even more. A lot more melodious, the slow-paced The Unholy Gathering continues from where the previous song stopped in the storyline, and when they speed up the musicality it becomes a heavy music extravaganza with highlights to the potent vocals by Mr. Lordi and the spooky notes by Hella. And it looks like the second half of the album is indeed dedicated to much heavier and darker material based on what the band delivers in Heaven Sent Hell on Earth, one of those headbanging badass compositions with a gripping story in the background and a chorus that is yet again a beautiful option to sing along with the band.

The final triumvirate of Hard Rock blasted by Lordi is pure awesomeness, starting with And the Zombie Says, a first-class Heavy Metal tune with brilliant guitar lines and keyboards, not to mention the thunderous drums by Mana and the song’s beautiful chorus. It’s a nonstop action-packed song that transpires adrenaline until its very last second, with Mr. Lordi providing an amazing performance on vocals as usual.  In the neck-breaking chant Break of Dawn, another song to scream the chorus together with Mr. Lordi and a song also played to perfection by all band members, Amen kicks some serious ass with his sharp riffs. And last but not least, The Night the Monsters Died is the perfect climatic ending to the story being told and to the whole album, full of breaks and soulful passages and solos, and having as its main element a more-than-addictive chorus (“It’s the morning after the night / The night the monsters died / Don’t have to be afraid / Cause we’re already dead / It’s the morning after the night / The night the monsters died / We’ll never say goodbye / For the final time”). Put differently, this is a full-bodied composition that will put a smile on the face of everyone that listens to it, no matter how angry or sad that person might be.

There’s that Halloween quote by an unknown author that says we should all “eat, drink and be scary”, but after listening to such an entertaining album of kick-ass melodic old school Hard Rock and Heavy Metal I guess we need to change the saying to something like “eat, drink, be scary and listen to Lordi”. It’s insanely hard for a band to top a once-in-a-lifetime masterpiece like The Arockalypse, but Mr. Lordi and his living-dead crew have been on a roll since their 2013 release To Beast or Not to Beast, constantly producing high-end material for the undead masses. Could it be the charming spell Hella put on Lordi when she joined the band back in 2012? Or has Mr. Lordi found a special full moon that fully recharges his monster power endlessly? Either way, it looks like it will need a lot more than just garlic, silver bullets, sunlight and any other known weapon to kill the music by this iconic herd of rockin’ monsters from Finland.

Best moments of the album: Down with the Devil, Demonarchy, And the Zombie Says and The Night the Monsters Died.

Worst moments of the album: The Unholy Gathering.

Released in 2016 AFM Records

Track listing
1. SCG8: One Message Waiting 1:10
2. Let’s Go Slaughter He-Man (I Wanna Be the Beast-Man in the Masters of the Universe) 4:30
3. Hug You Hardcore 3:40
4. Down with the Devil 4:29
5. Mary Is Dead 4:37
6. Sick Flick 4:00
7. None for One 4:15
8. SCG VIII: Opening Scene 1:22
9. Demonarchy 6:01
10. The Unholy Gathering 5:09
11. Heaven Sent Hell on Earth 5:43
12. And the Zombie Says 6:23
13. Break of Dawn 5:47
14. The Night the Monsters Died 7:13

Band members
Mr. Lordi – vocals
Amen – guitars
OX – bass
Hella – keyboards
Mana – drums