19 January 2008

Necrophagist - Epitaph (2004) review

Since the days Ritchie Blackmore played classically inspired leads for Deep Purple, a neo-classical movement has erupted in popular music. Yngwie Malmsteen became synonymous with the movement thanks to his high level of technical virtuosity, particularly his sweep arpeggios. Since then, the cheese has been cut back considerably but the sweep picking technique remains a trusted item in the metal guitarist bag of tricks.

Necrophagist released their debut, Onset of Putrefaction, in 1999. Suiçmez played and recorded most of the instruments on the album and left the drum duties to Steve Jobs. The sound on the album is lacking, and of course for this kind of music having a machine do any work is a disgrace. The album has recently been re-recorded by Suiçmez, who was never pleased with its sound. Despite this, the album caught on well with fans of brutally technical music.

Following the relative success of Onset of Putrefaction, Suiçmez assembled a band of session musicians and toured extensively. Epitaph was recorded after the tour, mostly with live musicians.

You will be completely arpeggionated after listening to Epitaph. Suiçmez is an incredibly skilled and amazingly tasteful guitarist - enough so that Ibanez designed their Xiphos guitar with him:

The lyrics deal with your standard death metal fanfare of death and destruction. That much is compulsory, but the riffs drip with melody. All the arpeggios provided by guitarist and bassist (and one could almost claim the drummer too) are enough to confuse a nest of killer bees. There is a feeling of very strictly organised chaos in every track. Picture the nest of killer bees getting confused and then proceeding to fly along sine graphs, cosine graphs and a host of other hypnotic trajectories to torment a ferret on a raft in the Limpopo river. Despite the fact that Africa does not have killer bees. Or ferrets. Basically, imagine extremely mathematical noise.

Suiçmez is a fair vocalist, clearly from the Melissa Cross school of screeching, but applies these methods to gargling and growling. The technical skills on display with this album are on par with that of Vital Remains, with Necrophagist being far less brutal. It lends itself to the Cynic school of odd rhythms, syncopated palm mutes and aristocratic drumming. There is a great variety of styles on display. Even though the album is barely longer than half an hour, it doesn't leave one with a feeling of emptiness once it is over. In fact, you want to listen to it on repeat.

Track listing

  1. Stabwound

  2. The Stillborn One

  3. Ignominious & Pale

  4. Diminished to B

  5. Epitaph

  6. Only Ash Remains

  7. Seven

  8. Symbiotic in Theory

Muhammed Suiçmez: Guitar; vocals.
Christian Muenzner: Guitar.
Stefan Fimmers: Bass guitar.
Hannes Grossmann: Drums.

And in case you were wondering, my personality type:

INTJ - "Mastermind". Introverted intellectual with a preference for finding certainty. A builder of systems and the applier of theoretical models. 2.1% of total population.
Free Jung Personality Test (similar to Myers-Briggs/MBTI)


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