Necrom
All Paths are Left Here...

All too often in life, things just refuse to be simple.

Take this album from Necrom for example: On the surface, this should be a slam dunk of an release to promote.  Objectively speaking, I’ll just get to the point – All Paths Are Left Here… is one of the best examples of Old School Swedish-obsessed Death Metal I’ve heard in a minute. If the title wasn’t enough of a giveaway, it worships at the altar of all things Entombed and Dismember, with buzzsaw guitars blazing, monstrous grooves and breakdowns throughout, and enough earworm melody to make it all stick. And the band is based in the now war-torn city Kharkiv, Ukraine – providing even more incentive to want to get up and support the band through these unimaginably difficult times.

But of course, because life is never easy, there’s an elephant in the room. A pretty friggin’ big one.

Necrom consists of a foursome of Ukranian metal veterans, including guitarist Eugeny “Knjaz Varggoth” Hapon, who you may know as vocalist and guitarist of Nokturnal Mortum, a band that was considered an early pioneer in the NSBM scene. Though he has made some statements in more recent years about distancing himself from that ugly world of metal, in my opinion they were never really enough to answer for a career that was, even by NSBM standards, RACIST AS FUCK. Early NM work aside, he was also the driving force behind the ultra-racist Warhead (with album titles including Defenders of the Blood and the not-remotely-subtle Aryan Nation’s Rebirth), and even MORE overtly racist Aryan Terrorism (not that I should need to elaborate, but song titles like “Jewish Provocation,” “Our Banner Swastika!” and “A National Socialistic Call” should pretty much fill in any blanks you might have about what those enlightened individuals were all about…)

I’m not here to tell you how to feel about all of this. The argument about separating art from the artist, and the issue of whether to accept varying degrees of racist undertones (or overtones, as the case may sometimes be) in many corners of the metal universe are well-documented and debated topics that I, more than likely, have nothing new to contribute to. I’m here presenting you only with facts pertaining to one member of a band – facts that I do feel are important and necessary to address before presenting you with a band you may feel inclined to support and give money to in exchange for their art. Do what thou wilt with this information.

Musically speaking, as mentioned earlier, you’re going to be hard pressed to find an example of early Swedish Death worship as compelling and well-crafted as this. We’re talking some riffs and grooves that will stick around with you – starting perhaps most notably on second track “Fathers Will Feast.” Halfway through the song, the band transitions from an all-out speed attack to an absolutely filthy mid-paced rumble, before knocking you straight in the mouth with a bruising Blood Red Throne-esque breakdown that’ll put some hair on your knuckles and take your lunch money. Follow-up “Food for Worms” follows a very similar pattern, hitting you with more of the kind of back-breaking heft that makes having to go reverse-cowboy with Shaq seem like taking it easy. But even that is nothing compared to the onslaught in store for you on the Lovecraft-inspired “The City the Old Ones Built,” which foregoes any of the speedier elements found on the previous tracks for a straight-up, rumbling bulldozer that grinds you underneath it’s blood-and-guts-soiled treads until there’s nothing left but a bloody, mashed-up pulp. Fun stuff!

And the relentless pummeling just keeps coming and coming like a festering army of the reanimated dead. “The Walls Have Hands” breaks out some super creepy, scene-setting synths that drape over the rest of the music like a torn-up, cobweb-ridden death shroud. You can find similar effects on opener “Dagon” and closer “The Woods of Weird West,” and sprinkled intermittently throughout the record. Frankly, they work so well I wonder why the band isn’t using MORE of them, because they serve as some real highlight moments that give the music an extra added layer of depth behind the otherwise full-throttle attack.

This is an album I want to absolutely adore, and with a set of particular blinders on, this would, without question, rocket straight to the front of the line for my favorite albums of 2020. It’s that infectious. It reaches a level of wonderful nostalgia for a style of Death Metal I can never get enough of, and executes it with some real palpable energy. Sadly, for me, I haven’t been able to fully get past this project’s association with Knjaz Varggoth and his ridiculously racist past, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t put a cloud over my judgement of this record. For his sake, I hope he has left that part of him in the past, and if he truly is willing to not shy away from it and be better for it, good for him. Either way, it’s not my job to tell you how to feel about all the factors at play here. I’ll leave that up to you.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
April 14th, 2022

Comments

  1. Commented by: Erik T

    This album rules…. HARD, pity about the other stuff. Good write up Steve.


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