“What you’re about to experience is likely to be the most electrifying 18 minutes of your day, unless you lose control of your car, the brakes fail, and you’re surging toward a concrete pylon at Formula One speed.”
Almost four months ago that’s how we began our review and premiere of a self-titled EP by the Chicago-based horror-loving quintet Necronomicon Ex Mortis. We also wrote this: “Their brand of death metal is so fast, so technically head-spinning, and so devilishly inventive that it allows no room for any calm contemplation. All you can do is hang on for dear life and enjoy the flame-throwing madhouse thrills while they last — and then yield to the impulse to throw yourself back in right away”.
No wonder then that we jumped at the chance to host another Necronomicon Ex Mortis premiere today, and we’re doing that because they already have another EP headed for release in August. It’s named Silver Bullet, so if you’re a werewolf you’d better run. You might want to run even if you’re not a lycanthrope.
Top – Michael Bala – Guitar, Manuel Barbarà – Guitar
Bottom – Yusuf Rashid – Bass, Craig Schmul – Vocals, Joey Ferretti – Drums
The press materials for the band recommend their music for fans of Arsis, The Black Dahlia Murder, Racer X, Obscura, and Megadeth, which is another way of previewing their capacity for spinning heads in different ways. The band’s guitarist Michael Nystrom Bala hints at that himself in discussing Silver Bullet:
“We think fans will notice the wide array of influences on this EP. They weren’t pulled from other projects or other albums, so that expectation was created going into the process. Variety is the spice of life, kids. We want you to sleep with the lights on.
“These tracks were written specifically for this EP. We have roughly 69 more fully written songs ready to go that are both terrifying and titillating. We feel like we have evolved in the way we chose our guitar tones this time. We went for a unified sound with a single amp and 1 guitar but ended up blending in a low-gain amp that did a lot to fill the tone out. We also experimented with some clean/acoustic stuff this time that we feel came out really good.”
The new EP is a four-track affair that spins for about 16 1/2 minutes. What we’ve got for you today is a lyric video for the opening number, “Crypt of the Gorilla God” (the werewolf tales come later in the EP).
When you hear this song, that Arsis reference may ring true the strongest. It’s a hard-charging, neck-snapping rush, and generates an atmosphere of sinister menace and supernatural ferocity, but it’s also loaded to the brim with guitar pyrotechnics. They range from brazen thrash riffing to fleet-fingered fretwork flurries that jitter, dart, and magically swirl, capped by spectacular soloing that will make you want to hoist your invisible oranges to the heavens.
But as noted, this is also a compulsively groovesome and ferocious romp, with the the rhythm section kicking our reptile brains into action and the ferocity mainly fueled by the wide-ranging vocal barbarism. And lovers of the Kong mythos and other pulp-fiction tales of lost civilizations will get a kick out of the narrative too.
So after that exhilarating romp, wouldn’t you like to know what comes next? Well of course you would!
Shifting the horror setting, the EP continues with “The Swamp“, and there the band shift gears too — slower and gloomier at first (with a different kind of guitar solo), and then even faster than in the song we’ve just premiered. Not swampy this one, but a blazing fireball of technically impressive fretwork and maniacal vocal savagery, anchored by hard-pumping drum-and-bass pistons.
But the band throw in surprise along their racecourse, suddenly detouring into a mesmerizing, proggy, and beautifully multi-toned interlude, as a prelude to another eye-popping solo and then another thrash-fueled, head-spinning, blood-pumping rush.
Then it’s time for the lycanthropes to be set free. First, to set the supernatural stage, there’s an instrumental track named “Cycle of the Werewolf“, fashioned from droning organ chords, the ecstatic dance of more ethereal organ keys, and a slowly wailing melody that sounds like a lament. Then at last comes the EP’s title track, another turbocharged race with all the instrumentalists firing on all cylinders (the soloing is again jaw-dropping), and the vocals barking in gritty hostile snarls.
When you finally have a chance to hear the EP as a whole, all of those comparative band references mentioned above will make sense, including Racer X (even though there’s no singing on Silver Bullet). From start to finish, it really is a head-spinner and a heart-pounder, and some of the most fun you can have with your clothes on (though you might need to strip down and dry off after the EP is done with you.).
If it wasn’t clear already, it’s damned clear after Silver Bullet that Necronomicon Ex Mortis is “a band to watch”. And if these peoples really do have 69 more songs fully written, bring ’em on!
Silver Bullet was produced and mixed by Charlie Waymire, and it was mastered by Ernesto Homeyer. It features cover artwork by Genocide Artwork. It will be out on August 11th.