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Necromandus: Orexis of death

14/04/10  ||  sly

While I am completely aware that some will not consider Necromandus metal (it’s more Deep Purple-era metal than Manowar), their roots are deep down in the same soil. In the days when the pattern for heavy metal was being measured and cut, they supported groups such as Black Sabbath (even when they were Earth) and were, in turn, supported by the likes of Judas Priest. They are an underrated early model of the doom metal genre, with a twist of prog, and deserve a mention.

I’ll admit it isn’t the most incredible doom-rock-ish album of the 70’s, but it is definitely worth listening to at least once (or on a regular basis if you’re a nerd like me). Although they were doing their own thing before Tony Iommi became their manager, the overall sound is suspiciously Sabbath-like, with “Judy Green Rocket” particularly reminiscent of “Paranoid”. But I don’t really see that as a bad thing. One can also discern much influence from pioneers such as Blue Cheer, King Crimson, and Yes.

(I should mention that “Judy Green Rocket” was not originally released on this album, but was initially a 7” demo track. Included on “Necrothology”, but not on CD version)

I deeply wish “Orexis of Death” had received it’s 1973 release. Indeed, I feel that it would have been well received and the band would have gone on to show us the full potential of which we’ve been allowed only a glimpse. Unfortunately, this was not to be. It’s your typical Iommi-is-busy-with-Sabbath-and-can’t-do-his-job-as-manager sob story. Twenty three years were destined to pass before this recording would be rediscovered and officially released.

Guitarist Barry Dunnery’s playing is fairly masterful and strong. His riffs and fret-work are satisfying and catchy as hell from beginning to end, and no doubt the backbone of the music itself. Even though Bill Branch’s young raspy vocals soar pleasingly o’er the top, I still almost always find my attention drawn to the oh so memorable Rickenbacker sound. Dunnery’s sound is clearly jazz-inspired, reminding me of greats like Steve Howe and Robert Fripp.

“Nightjar” is an intriguing specimen boasting alternating time signatures, prog-gy flourishes, and a heavy-bluesy-medieval in-your-face (for its time) kind of sound. If you want only a taste of the album, listen to this track. But in all fairness, the entire collection is one pretty impressive array of all but forgotten talent. Lyrical content ranges from typical of the era anti-military to beautiful girls to flying around on a giant bird. Hey, it was the early 70’s.

My decision to review this album probably teeters on the edge of acceptability for GD, I know. And I even considered scratching it for something more “metal”. But from my first listen, “Orexis of Death” has left such an impression on me that I thought it only right and proper to put aside my selfishness and share it with you all.

Rise Above Records has recently re-released a limited edition, deluxe gatefold, heavyweight vinyl edition, with a replica “Judy Green Rocket” seven inch. (And yes, a copy is on its way to my house. As I said, we’re nerds around here).

In conclusion, this is not the most amazing creation of the century, but it’s quite good. And though it is very typical for its time, it certainly deserves recognition for being amongst the best of their breed.

7,5

  • Information
  • Released: 1999
  • Label: Vertigo
  • Website: Necromandus MySpace
  • Band
  • Bill Branch: vocals
  • Barry Dunnery: guitars
  • Dennis McCarten: bass
  • Frank Hall: drums, percussion
  • Tony Iommi: producer, guitar on “Orexis of death”
  • Tracklist
  • 1. Intro
  • 2. Mogidisimo
  • 3. Nightjar
  • 4. A Black Solitude
  • 5. Homicidal Psychopath
  • 6. Still Born Beauty
  • 7. Gypsy Dancer
  • 8. Orexis of Death
  • 9. I’ve Been Evil
  • 10. Mogidisimo (Reprise)
  • 2005 Audio Archives release:
  • 1. Judy Green Rocket (1972 demo)