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Necrite - Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

joe vena   (35 reviews)

Posted: 11/11/2010 | Comments: 1 | Rate:

So, I’m a pretty notorious hater of American black metal. Outside of Subliminal Genocide by Xasthur, I will swear tooth and nail that if a black metal record did not come from about six time zones over, it’s just not good. 98 percent of the time it’s corny, watered down copycat bullshit, and if that’s not the case then the band tries to forcefully stick something into the mix like groove metal riffs or overbearing post-rock-esque ambiance that just doesn’t work. However, for this review I am going to have to begrudgingly swallow my pride and supplement my infamously short list with one more record. Necrite’s “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi”, their first full-length record and my introduction to the band, is really, really good, and I nearly shat myself mid-headbang in surprise and embarrassment when I found out they were from the San Francisco Bay Area of California. It’s heavy, it’s evil, and it’s fucking dark, achieving the perfect balance of rapid-fire riffing and creepy, hellish atmosphere. More importantly, it’s traditionally raw and dirty in terms of both songwriting and production value, but has enough of its own malevolent flavor to not sound like a direct copycat of Transilvanian Hunger or something. Necrite attains this all without any cheesy attempts at mashing genres or mitigating their music with boringly slow drone buildups. To me, especially for a bunch of Americans, that is impressive.

“A Mass for the Harvest of Death” and one of the most genuinely pained shrieks I’ve ever heard eerily mark the beginning of “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi”. This song illustrates perfectly Necrite’s capability to keep their music heavy, spooky and ambient at the same time, without relying on lame keyboard tricks. Classic rapid black metal guitar and drum work is very recognizable here, but inventively orchestral sounding chords and vocalist/guitarist Thrull’s continuously aggrieved shrieks give this traditional foundation a spine-chilling twist of its own. The song is long, clocking in at over sixteen minutes, but it doesn’t lose its momentum at any point, even at about nine minutes when an unnerving moody interlude rears its ugly head. It’s adventurous without being boring, and at about eleven minutes Necrite unexpectedly stabs you in the ears with even heavier and darker riffs. “Bathing Open Wounds with Shards of Glass” is another standout track, and my personal favorite. This song straight up sounds like mayhem manifested, with darkness and rapidity firing from all angles, bending, slamming and decaying into a pool of sound that could be described as the murky depths of black metal. It simply does not let up. It could easily be the soundtrack to someone falling slowly into the depths of the deepest level of hell. This is some of the ugliest, blackest music I’ve ever had the pleasure to listen to, and I absolutely love it.

I only had a few qualms with this record, the first being the length of the fourth, and title track, “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi”. It’s a great song, without a doubt, following in the footsteps of its predecessors’ soulless nature, but it kind of delves too much into its own ambiance, one of the things that definitely irks me in modern black metal. The song isn’t nearly as criminal in this vein as some full albums by Necrite’s contemporaries, but it’s about twenty-two minutes long, and there’s a lot of great music sandwiched between a lot of not so great music, and I feel like it could be cut down by a lot and be a pristine hammer to the face without a lot of the self-indulgent filler. Also, the last track, the deliciously pun-y “Worship the Sunn O)))”, was completely pointless static-y drone-noise that doesn’t seem to serve a purpose, or truly make any sort of impact on the record. It definitely could have ended on a better note. Aside from that, Necrite has done the impossible and gotten me to admit that these yankees have made a damn quality black metal record.