Nekkromaniac
Plague Eater

OK, so look. I’ve made my love for the whole old school Blackened Thrash thing very well-apparent to this point. Give me a group of dudes wailing away on some nasty riffs, tortured vocals about demons and Satan and shit, package it up with some more raw, stripped-down production, and you’ve basically got me hook, line and sinker before I even press play. I can’t help it.

That said, while I understand the whole “lo-fi” aesthetic is kinda meant to be part of the listening experience for this kind of thing – there IS a point where the dedication to making your record intentionally sound shitty just goes a step too far. It’s 2022 after all – there’s folks making music that frankly sounds pretty incredible on a laptop in their bedroom. You almost have to TRY to make your record sound bad which, to me, kinda seems like it’s defeating the purpose. *old man violently shakes fist at the sky*

I know I’ve let other bands guilty of similar production shortfalls off the hook in the past. I admit that. The only reason I bring it up with Nekkromaniac, is that I truly feel that if they’d just met us even half-way on the production of Plague Eater, I’d be about ready to call this thing my album of the year, regardless of what came out in the next 6 months. The riffs, the songwriting, the performances all-around? Absolutely filthy. But because they’ve gone with the travel-amp-inside-a-trashcan-at-the-bottom-of-an-endless-pit sound quality (particularly on the guitars), so much of the incredible work on display here just lacks the punch that I can absolutely imagine it’d land with even base-level recording integrity. IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY.

But here’s the thing – I mean it when I say the performances here are A+ material. I absolutely hate the production, but I still friggin’ LOVE Plague Eater. Stylistically, the band reminds me quite a bit of a less-melodic, thrashier Vampire, who are responsible for two of my favorite albums of the five years with 2017’s With Primeval Force and 2020’s Rex. They waste no time getting to the good stuff with a blistering opener in “Plague Eater,” which gets down to business in short order with a doozy of a thrash riff off the top, followed by a tasty two-step and brought home with a nasty double-bass-backed death/thrash riff before the song even gets to the one-minute mark. This band very clearly means business. But it’s just a small teaser for an album that, as it goes on, just seems to get better and more vicious with every track. “Black Death” repeats a similar formula from the first track, but cranks everything up another notch to really get your temples bursting.

“Napalm Funeral” really brings it all together for the band, taking a break from the breakneck paces and hitting you first with some really unsettling, atmospheric guitars and bass that create an eerie setting. Frankly, this is the best the guitars sound all album, before the song launches back into the blackened thrash, and they return right back to the trashcan at the bottom of the pit. Despite this degradation, the riff remains a doozy and, if you stick with it, you’re rewarded with a killer mix of super-aggressive thrash and slowed-down, doomy heft. It’s a similar formula attack they deploy on both “Awaken the Depths” and “Pit and the Pendulum” which really sees the band operating at their peak, providing great balance while still pummeling you right in the race with well-executed, no-frills riffs and impressive, busy drum work.

Listen, I’m not here saying Plague Eater needs to have Periphery or Between the Buried and Me-levels of over-production. I love a really-well produced album, but I know and wholly accept that’s not what a product like this calls for. But recent killer albums from the likes of Demiser, Schizophrenia and other similar Blackened Thrash acts have proven that it doesn’t need to sound like your neighbor’s garage band recorded on an answering machine, either. The problem is that the content on Plague Eater is SO good that I want the absolute best for it. It deserves to sound better than it does. So while I absolutely recommend everyone check Nekkromaniac out for the killer performances they put on this record, I also very much hope they give their next album even just a little more oomph behind the mixer so we can all enjoy that these gents have to offer even more. I don’t think that’s asking too much?

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
June 21st, 2022

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