Grip of the Dead

Up until Regain Records reissued the band’s discography in 2009, I never really cared for Sweden’s blackened thrashers Nifelheim. The band hasn’t released anything since 2007, but vocalist Hellbutcher has been busy and one of his latest projects is Necrocurse – a band that combines Nifelheim‘s black thrash, spikes ‘n’ satan visage with the current old school Swedish death metal revival.

Like label mates Skineater, Necrocurse is a collaboration of veterans of the Swedish death and black metal scene, here being folks who have served in the likes of Runemagick, Swordmaster, and Masticator. So the lineage of Necrocurse is solid and they do a fine job of creating a slightly blacker, thrashier version of the Stockholm sound. The riffs are dirtier and have a little more sneer, even if rendered with a enjoyable, clean Sunlight buzz (think something between Entombed’s Morning Star and Inferno in tone). Hellbutcher keeps things tangibly blacker with his higher register rasp but the balance is well done as within the more uptempo, thrash based music, a few fine Stockholm grooves and chugs buzz and rumble with aplomb.

The material itself is far from groundbreaking, and certainly isn’t up there with the likes of Entrails or Revel in Flesh, but I don’t think that is Necrocurse‘s goal. They seem to fit more in line with reactivated Swedes Sorcery with a dustier, thrashier tone. However, there is a lot of energy and high octane moments on Grip of the Dead, made all the more enjoyable by the guitar tone. The likes of opener “Necrocurse”, “The Devil Cobra”, “Ripping Darkness (The Destroyer)” and “Morbid Maniacs”. I only wish that the band would reign it in a little more often, as a lot of the material is a bit samey in pace and delivery. For example, “Death Metal Rebels, “Coffin Breakers” and “Speed to the Grave” all have a killer, groovy moment or two, but its only just enough to tantalize and never really develop.

Overall though, I’m not completely enamored with Necrocurse yet. Hellbutcher’s vocals are a little grating for me and the song writing isn’t quite breaking away from the Nifelheim sound yet, even if the guitar tone is. I’m more likely to reach for the recent Necrowretch instead as it essentially mixes the same styles with a little more death metal. Still, its a fun, high octane romp that kills 40 minutes or so and requires little active listening,  just hit play and bang your head.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
May 1st, 2013


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