Phylactery – Necromancy Enthroned

Phylactery – Necromancy Enthroned

Necromancy Enthroned runs like a thrash and death metal bullet train. The album opener, “Risen Restless Dead,” judders for twenty seconds before it fires off on a groove heralded by double-bass drumming. The song battles through a few changes and clings to the rails of its vitriol. Phylactery plays metal very much in the tradition of pioneers Morbid Saint and Sacrifice, whom this Alberta three-piece cite as influences. The eleven songs on their debut album are admirably consistent. Each brings hard-charging riffs comprising rapid alternate picking on the low strings punctuated with hammer-ons, pull-offs, and power chords and drums that defiantly crash ahead. The band avoids histrionics and make no room for deathcore guitar squeals and arpeggio-split breakdowns on Necromancy Enthroned.

The best tracks, including “Morbid Existence”, “Enslaved by the Dawn”, and “Bubonic Undeath” benefit from the album’s unfussy production. The sound’s modestly produced rawness situates it among its influences; Morbid Saint’s “Crying for Death” could play right after Phylactery’s “Morbid Existence” without sounding like a 30-year time warp. These bands could be contemporaries. Phylactery’s heated rasp vocal is one point of separation. Another is their sonic choice of distortion on the bass guitar. The result often makes the instrument conspicuous; it peaks through from the mix like a fat man looking out from behind a sapling. See the beginning of “Fulminations” for example. In thrash and death, the instrument often works in tandem with the six strings to contribute to the fullness of the overall sound. But the higher-profile and aggressive bass attack on Necromancy Enthroned adds crust.

The album could be leaner, though. No song should last longer than two and a half minutes; most go past three; one tops out over four. As good they sound, Phylactery spin their wheels sometimes. For example, at 1:40, “King of Ruin” almost loses momentum, but is saved only by effective timing on the vocals; the song recovers until the chugging guitars at 2:20 create too much drag. Moments like these seem indulgent. Tighter editing could have produced a first-rate album of eight or nine pure and urgent songs. But these flaws are the exceptions. Phylactery sound relentlessly focused on staying true to the circa-1990 thrash-death style they want to play. And they play it earnestly and with unashamed seriousness.

Unspeakable Axe Records