Reprisal in Death - Anthology

Necrosanct was a short-lived death metal band from England, who had a little smattering of success.  In their brief 5 year period they were writing maniacs and released three full-length albums which I will touch on in this review.  In 2019 the compilation Legacy was released which included some demos/rehearsals.  We get UK’s Back on Black to step in for this reissue, and as they have done with prior boxset reissues, like my alma mata Internal Bleeding, everything is put together quite nicely in this 4 cd boxset.  All their releases are on a separate disc and this small English band will probably gain a few more fans with this reissue.

I’ll jump to disc 4 which is the Legacy compilation of including the Ex-Iternity Demo 1991 Desolate Demo 1992 + 2 unreleased rehearsal tracks which were recorded around the time the band split up in 1993.  The “newer” songs are just instrumentals, with the music sounding similar to their second and third albums.  The rest of the songs are a mixed bag with the production and sound, but the pre-production demos of the Incarnate and Desolate albums are rehearsals and nice to hear the early skeleton song structures.

Equal in Death dropped in 1990 and is the debut album.  10 songs in 36 minutes and this was definitely a very organic, let’s plug in amps play and record.  Rough sounding in parts, and there are blast beats on this album.. Finley Light’s drumming was not the tightest by any stretch of the imagination and his speed is off.  They would have been better suited pulling back on those blast beats, which were not in his wheelhouse, talent-wise.

“Arachneurosis”, at under two and a half minutes, has a lot of great energy, though and is a real good tune.  “Pretentious Priests” is up next and this is where Back on Black drops the ball.  Sometimes reissue sounds are not paid attention to and I question who was overlooking this release, quite honestly.  I’ve had these albums in various reissue CD formats and the sound for the first album on this reissue is just like the other reissues.  Poor.  The drop in volume from the first to the second song is huge.  The second song the volume you can barely hear the song, just like past reissue mistakes.  Then the next song is at a normal volume then the next song “Besieged Citadel” is once again ridiculously low.  So Back on Black ripped these reissue sounds from the prior poorly sounding reissues and quite honestly, no one went back to the masters and I will venture to say this may have been ripped from YouTube…Whatever the case may be this reissue does not do justice to Equal in Death by any stretch of the imagination.

Incarnate dropped in 1992 and this is the album that Necrosanct became known for, it’s how I noticed them too.  The band’s label, Bathory’s, Black Mark Production put some money into marketing because 1992 was when more of the death metal explosion started happening and I remember seeing this album cover plastered in and on the back of many fanzines.  The band had different band logos on each album cover, which is part of the reason their popularity was marred, but the logo they used on this album is by far the best one they ever had, same with the album cover and music.

“Ritual Acts” started this 11-song 42-minute affair and Finley’s drumming was definitely tighter on this and the overall sound is a lot more evil and Ant Ryan’s vocals are much improved, brutal and aggressive.  The guitar riffs were more thought-out and memorable.  “Necronomicon” was and still is a slow burn of a track, in the beginning before the blast beats are all over the place.  There are a lot of cavernous guitar solos and there are moments the song slows down and those riffs really breathe.  Just a great and classic album.  The sound is the same as prior reissues.

Desolate was the final album in 1993 and a rather creepy album cover too, like some voodoo-type shit.  This album was 10 songs in 42 minutes and was a strong follow-up to its predecessor.  Some of this is due to the same line-up from the previous album and Chris Cooper and Cal Scott had become better guitarists.  The opening song blasts and blasts and is pretty relentless.  “Plagued Mind” was a really and still is a damn fine song.  Doomy and heavy with some flip flopping double bass drums.  This song has a lot of cool death/doom atmosphere and definitely one of the best songs the band ever wrote.

The ultra-thick booklet of this anthology includes each album cover and then the complete lyrics.  That was real nice to see and it’s glossy paper, not cheap.  No retrospective from any of the band members, no liner notes, no panel of band pictures/or live promo flyers..  Since the label did this on their own that is why there is non of that essential stuff, that you want to be included in reissue booklets.  At the end of the day if you have the releases, this is not something you will plunk down your $30 for.  If you always wanted these releases or are looking for some cool, underground, early death metal sounds from the UK, go ahead and pick this up.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
December 7th, 2023


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