When it comes to thrash, Norway has some of the most rabid and over the top bands out there. The likes of Deathhammer, Nekromantheon, and Inculter (to name a few) have been keeping the 80s flag flying high with speedy and unrelenting takes that recalled the earlier days where thrash, black, and death all blurred together into one and weren’t as segregated as they are today. Nekromantheon made a strong impression with their first two albums, but with the trio all being a part of other groups they’ve been quiet for almost a decade. This year finally brings full-length number three, Visions of Trismegistos, which finds them once again offering razor-sharp thrash that rarely lets off the gas.
If you’re looking for originality in thrash, Nekromantheon isn’t likely going to change your world. But much like Germany’s Lucifuge who I reviewed earlier in the week, this band channels that classic 80s sound where thrash and other variants of metal were often focused on speed and as much aggression as possible. Much like the rest of Nekromantheon’s discography, Visions of Trismegistos delivers this with the type of precision and constant twists and turns that are instantly appealing. If you’re new to their take on the genre, the closest comparison is fellow countrymen Aura Noir with the rabidness of early Sepultura and Slayer in there for good measure. From start to finish, the songs are focused on speed and only let up for a few brief pauses that let a dark, sinister atmosphere seep in. So far this is probably sounding similar to what you’d expect from the more violent and speed focused variants of thrash, but where Nekromantheon continue to stand out is in their technical proficiency. In lesser hands, maintaining this type of speed for a half hour would careen out of control and lose its potency, but the trio seamlessly moves from one riff to the next without ever wavering. They’ve only seemed to get more intense with each effort, and this one strikes balances blistering intensity with just the right amount of studio polish. Admittedly the songs do tend to follow similar patterns, but there are so many neck breaking riffs here that it works to the band’s advantage, especially given the quick half-hour runtime.
Arild Myren Torp is where some more of the Aura Noir comparisons are likely to come from, as he has a similar pitch and cadence to his screams. This is also true in how Torp’s vocals are able to break through the steamrolling power of the instrumentals and still steal the spotlight on multiple occasions, keeping pace with the speed of these songs while also adding a grittier edge. The screams do stick around the lower end of the spectrum though, so if you found the ear-piercing shrieks of Deathhammer to be just a bit too much then Nekromantheon might still be able to draw you in. Not much has changed on this front from 2012’s Rise, Vulcan Spectre but if it isn’t broken, why fix it?
When done well, this type of unrelenting thrash can be just as appealing as it was three decades ago and Nekromantheon has been consistent proof of this. Over the years they’ve refined their approach more, getting even more precise in their onslaught of riffs and album number three has some of their most potent material yet. Thrash fans of all types need this in their collection, and with Deathhammer also teasing an album for later this year it looks like Norway is once again set to dominate. Visions of Trismegistos is available from Hells Headbangers and Indie Recordings.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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