When I listen to a new record, I can’t help but have the thought about favorite records versus critically good records. Or favorite versus critically good anything really. Perfect example: my favorite movie of all time is Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I’ve seen it hundreds of times. I watched so much as a kid that I had the entire script memorized. As much as I love that movie, I also know it isn’t like an Oscar-level well-received film. That doesn’t necessarily influence my decision over it as much as it adds an extra dimension to thoughts about personal taste. But more to the point, it brings to mind the idea that you like what you like, there’s no changing it, and things that aren’t mind-blowingly revolutionary can still be incredible and fun.

That’s not to bury the incredible lede that is Necrot! It’s just a thought I wrestle with that came up while listening to their newest record, Mortal. You probably are already very familiar with this death metal trio. The boys from Oakland make an incredible throwback sound of grinding riffs and gurgling vocals. The best phrase I can think of is that they make riffs you can really sink your teeth into. There’s a meatiness to what they do that I personally love. And on top of that, they have this (for lack of a better term) “simple” progressive streak to their songwriting where seemingly disparate parts all exist in the same song but absolutely have to be together.

There were brilliant examples of this on 2017’s Blood Offerings, but I believe the band has mastered these concepts on Mortal. From the opening moments of “Your Hell,” you can immediately tell what you’re in for. If you hadn’t listened to the band before, then I hope you’re pleasantly surprised by what you hear. If you have heard them before, then strap in because it’s like previous Necrot but more so.

Y’all might know that I’m a picky death metal listener, so take my next opinion for what that’s worth to you.

Mortal is my favorite death metal record of the year so far. I keep close track of every album I listen to, and nothing even comes close to touching what Mortal does. It engages in the darkest tropes of the genre both paying homage to those influences while also building their own sound and showing us another direction death metal can continue to go. Mortal calls back to the influence from bands like Bolt Thrower and Death while also blackening those ideas and expanding their own songwriting. It’s a laundry list of ideas from a variety of sources that come together once again for a neat blend of brutally evil sounding songs.

I keep saying death metal, but Mortal proves that Necrot is really going for their own kind of thing. Sure, what they do sounds generally familiar, but it really is hard to define without a bunch of extra descriptors slapped on. That puts the band in a rare breed of artists who are making their own music and the critics be damned. The band is making very groovy and grindy death metal with a splash of black thrown in. You try narrowing that into a pithier label!

What it ultimately comes down to is energy. This album has an energy you simply can’t miss. Certainly there is darkness all over Mortal, but it’s also presented in a way that lets you escape into the song. As oxymoronic as it might sound, there is an awful lot of life on this death metal record. There is an embrace of a shared humanity that you don’t get on music of this kind. There is a soul to Mortal you rarely see in death metal. It’s partly in their image, a whole lot in their music, and just a little bit about the presentation. It is just an oddly good feeling you get throughout the seven tracks that seems so fleeting once the ending title track cliffhanger note leaves wanting so much more of this insanely good thing.

I brought up the personal taste versus critical taste only because Necrot brings that discussion up for me. I love everything this band has done so far as it just fits that alignment of tastes for me. Mortal is my favorite record of theirs so far and the culmination of their artistic talent. Some listeners might think they’re “just” doing old school death metal and leave it at that. I strongly disagree. It’s certainly inspired by that specific sound but not any more inspired than any other band playing music that can fit under the umbrella of a genre descriptor. Not that that should change your opinion on any record, and that’s the entire point here. Mortal is damn brilliant no matter how you slice it or what you think of it. I’ll be blasting this one for years to come.

Mortal is available August 28 via Tankcrimes.

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