I’ll be honest, I first picked up the promo for Necrowretch’s 2017 release Satanic Slavery simply because the cover was nasty and I figured any record with that title would sound wicked as, well, hell. That record met my expectations without even a shred of variance, churning out a blackened death maelstrom that turned out to be one of the most entertaining listens I had that year. Fast forward to 2020, and these fine Frenchmen are back at it again with the slash and blast of The Ones from Hell. I snagged a copy of this bad boy about a month ago for the same exact reason I jumped on Satanic Slavery: Nasty looking, evil sounding. For the second time in three years, the band has failed to disappoint me.
To put it plainly, The Ones from Hell does not represent a major stylistic leap for the band. Still churning out the same manic riffs reminiscent of speedy death dealers like Nile with that pure, razor-sharp ugliness that feels like a mix of Corpsessed and Vanhelgd. It’s a sound that sounds solid on paper and is just as potent in execution. Over the band’s previous three records they’ve been steadily improving their craft, and The Ones from Hell feels like a proper continuation of the musical themes addressed in their previous record. It doesn’t sound particularly new, but it’s sure as hell as filthy as one might imagine a follow-up to an album called Satanic Slavery to be.
Opener “Pure Hellfire” kicks off the record on an unexpectedly subdued, melodic note. A lone guitar and tribal drums carry us through the first minute or so of the track, before the music begins to build into something more decidedly metallic. We eventually get that awaited cathartic eruption of black metal blast beaten, tremolo picked madness that the band is known for. On this record more than any previous, it feels to me like the band are leaning more heavily into their black metal side, with their songwriting relying more consistently on standard black metal tropes. This is, in my mind, the Necrowretch’s primary strength, and is a welcome point of emphasis here. Subsequent track “Liciferian Sovranty” doubles down on the second-wave black metal motif even harder, belting out riffs at a speed comparable to Slayer in regards to their sheer brutality and relentless speed. It’s an early highlight of the record, and sets the tone for the continued mayhem to come.
If there’s one significant complaint to be had about the record, it would be that there isn’t a whole lot that sticks out as uniquely Necrowretch. The music on The Ones from Hell is of consistently solid quality and an absolute blast to listen to, but if you’re looking for a more unique approach to your blackened death metal you won’t find a whole lot of innovation here. It would be good for my ears to hear the band branch out into more unique territory, but this is a complaint that in no ways belittles the severely kick-ass tunes populating this record. It’s in all a fantastically violent trip that I will be taking many more times in the months to come.
If you enjoyed 2017’s Satanic Slavery, I have a very hard time imagining that you won’t dig The Ones from Hell. It’s a speedy, razor-sharp display of blackened death metal mayhem that is as entertaining on tenth listen as it was the first. Fans of this particular branch of the metal tree won’t go wrong giving Necrowretch’s latest the time on your mind-numbing commute that they rightly deserve. Another solid outing from one of the most consistent acts in the game.
The Ones from Hell is out now on Season of Mist.