The more i've been diving into black metal, the more i've come to realize that the Hellenic scene is, frankly, very underrated in its own way. While the hellenic scene never had the huge number of bands that the Norwegians or the Swedes had, the finest bands from Greece were at least just as noteworthy as their northern counterparts. Necromantia
delivers possibly the Hellenic scene's finest record with this beast.
play black metal, their style is pretty heavily different even from their Hellenic contemporaries. The band uses eight and four string basses as their main instruments, using the normal guitar primarily for solos only. This bass-driven approach to songwriting gives their riffcraft an entirely different feeling and sense of tone from the rest of black metal in general; while it's true the basses are distorted enough to where they sort of sound like guitars during the fastest moments, even then they have a different sense of tone compared to what you'd normally get. The riffs, as a result, have a much more earth-alike feeling to them than a lot of black metal, if that makes any sense. (something that their debut record also had in spades)
What makes Scarlet Evil Witching Black
so fantastic is how well the band integrates the various elements of their style on this record to form these songs, and with a sense of direction and taste. This record is a 'symphonic' black metal record, meaning it uses keyboards a lot to flesh out the songs. However, what makes the keyboard work so excellent on this record is how well it meshes with the bass-driven riffing, and when to use the appropriate melodic ideas for these songs. Some of the songs, like "Devilskin
", are intensely hellish and blistering in nature, whereas on tracks like "Spiritdance" they're still an important part of developing the song, but they're also more underplayed and reserved in nature. The key work is fantastic throughout, actually being a meaningful part of the music without overshadowing the rest of what the band has to offer.
The riffwork on this record is absolutely superb throughout. The riffs aren't particularly technical in nature, but they're interesting, well written, and fit well with the keyboards. Some of the riffs have a definitely traditional metal undercurrent to them; "Black Mirror", in particular, brings it to the forefront in its intro, and it remains present throughout the record. The lead guitar tends to not appear that often, but the leads in both the opening and closing tracks are well executed. (the latter being a flamenco-styled one) The songs are exceptionally written, switching between speedy tempos and more mid-paced, atmospheric sections with a definite sense of ease that never suffers from a lack of composure. It's clear that the band put quite a bit of thought into writing and presenting these songs. The performances on this record are pretty deft in nature throughout; they're perhaps not the tightest in the world, but they're absolutely appropriate for this style of music. The band are definitely talented enough to get this music across well. Production is remarkably strong as well; it's a bit sonically raw, but overall it helps to give the music an intensely hellish, yet earthy and clear sound. The basses sound guitar, the keyboard sound great throughout, and the drums are nicely recorded. Everything is clear enough to hear, and while it is somewhat cluttered during the fastest moments, it's not unlistenable whatsoever.
This is a record that admittedly takes a bit to fully digest, and it does possess some subtleties that take a few listens before they become fully apparent. However, this is a fantastic, spirited record that remains interesting, memorable, and fully consistent from beginning to end. Definitely one worth listening to, when all is said and done; highly recommended.