Necronomicon has always been lurking in the shadows cast by the unholy Teutonic trio of Kreator, Sodom, and Destruction. In the old days their third full-length "Escalation", which I still consider it to be one of their finest albums, had almost brought them to the level of their German brethren.
Their last album, '08's "Revenge of the Beast", with crushers like "Magic Forest" (a re-recorded version, not the original off their debut), "Warfare", "Nightstalker" and "Skull and Bone", was pretty damn good as well. But alas, even though members have come and gone, there has always been the constant of Freddy, Jürgen "Jogi" Weltin and Axel Strickstrock on each album...not so anymore; it's just now Freddy continuing the struggle for the proper recognition Necronomicon deserves.
Though the album is certainly a strong metal offering, there is an unmistakable shift in the overall musical synergy. It's not what I'd call Thrash (throwing in a barrage of blast beats doesn't make an album thrash). At times, there is a confused feel to the combination of styles being applied to the music, almost as if, throughout, the band is trying to find a balance between Freddy and the new members...I don't know, perhaps it's all Freddy's doing; feeling a bit lost without his old comrades.
For example, on a track like "Unconquered", which starts off with some fairly standard power metal riffage, there is certain disorder to the song as it switches from Power to NWOBM (there is an undeniable Maiden bass line heard in a break midway through.) and back while being wrapped up in a Speed metal package. Another Track "Before The Curtain Falls" sounds like something Bon Jovi woulda put out in the 80's whereas my favorite tracks of "Invictus", "Pandora's Box", and "Bloody Bastards" (I dig how they use a sample from Russian Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mikhail Margelov on that one) are ear melting metal.
Now, you must understand, I approach all my reviews as any fan; If I dig an album, it's actually quite a simple formula of wanting to play it over and over again. Here, unfortunately, I didn't; yet, I did definitely hear more than enough to keep some of you headbangers truly happy.
The album is offered in CD and as a limited Digipak which has some some pretty cool bonus tracks, which fortunately, I was lucky enough to hear. The songs included, not in order mind you, are an acoustic version of "Possessed Again" which I believe first appeared on their 2000 demo of the same name as well as '04's "Construction of Evil" LP, "Magic Forest" performed live in Moscow (again, the re-recorded version... this one kicks serious ass), "Nightstalker" and "On Pain of Death", both live, originally off of the "Revenge Of the Beast" album and another live version of "Hills of Dead" from the aforementioned "Construction of Evil".