ECNEPHIAS – Necrogod (Review)

ECNEPHIAS – Necrogod

ECNEPHIAS have been in the Italian metal scene since 1996 – quite a long time – though they didn’t manage to put anything out until 2005, with their November demo. 2006’s full-length Dominium Noctis, released through NEKROMANTIK RECORDS, was a solid blackened/gothic doom album, and Ways of Descention (2010) and Inferno (2011) saw a shift towards a more gothic metal style, a la recent ROTTING CHRIST. In fact, ECNEPHIAS and Sakis Tolis from ROTTING CHRIST collaborated on the song “Voodoo” on their latest release, Necrogod, which came out last month. Necrogod takes things in yet another direction, with ancient mythology being the primary lyrical focus. I like ROTTING CHRIST’s style, even some of their new stuff, and I found this album pleasant enough of a listen, though it does have several drawbacks.

Necrogod opens up with the intro “Syrian Desert”, and it soon becomes apparent that there is a very strong ethnic vibe on this album – everything from Egyptian, Babylonian, Mayan, and Middle-Eastern Judeo-Christian themes and composition styles are represented. There are a decent amount of ethnic instruments utilized as well – there’s a very cool woodwind solo (maybe a ney flute?) on “Kukulkan” and what sounds like a sitar on “Anubis (The Incense of Twilight)”. Chanting is a big element too, and most songs have a militaristic, war march type of feel to them. “Voodoo (Daughter of Idols)” is probably my favourite track, with some very cool riffing and keyboard sections, and Sakis, unsurprisingly, does a solid job on guest vocals. The slow, melodic “Ishtar (Al-‘Uzza)” and “Leviathan (Seas of Fate)” are fairly dull, but for the most part ECNEPHIAS manage to keep my attention well enough throughout the album.

Guitars chug along for most of the album, each chug usually accompanied by a synchronized drum hit. Both guitar and bass are highly polished, as are the rest of the instruments, but come off as occasionally thin. The opposite can be said about drums, which are loud and big in the mix, and keyboards, which often dominate the other instruments. Mancan’s vocals remind me quite a bit of legendary cheeseball Fernando Ribeiro of MOONSPELL, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, Mancan does seem to have a wider range than Fernando, as evidenced by songs like “The Temple of Baal-Seth” (another strong track). All instruments tend to work together well, despite some minor production issues, and nothing comes off as terribly distracting or over-produced, though I could definitely do with some more fuzz on the guitars.

I recommend Necrogod for fans of recent ROTTING CHRIST, MOONSPELL, and (to a lesser extent) VARATHRON. Its strengths do outweigh its weaknesses, and while it is far from the sort of thing I tend to enjoy, I found it to be a fun, slightly goofy listening experience that I don’t feel I wasted my time on. Much like a big budget Hollywood film, Necrogod is without much real substance, but is still entertaining. Though I personally won’t be coming back to this album anytime soon, check it out if you like this sort of thing.

–       Zac C. Dendinger

Score: 68%

Standout tracks: “Syrian Desert”, “Voodoo (Daughter of Idols)”, “The Temple of Baal-Seth”, “Winds of Horus”

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