Album review: Necronautical – Slain In The Spirit

Brit extreme metallers Necronautical explore the darkness in expansive fashion on Slain In The Spirit.

Album review: Necronautical – Slain In The Spirit
Paul Travers

Black metal can be a feral, bone-sucking goblin of a genre, but there have always been bands willing to peek beyond the cave exit and launch their tremolo picked riffs into the sky. From Bathory’s epic Viking chants to Emperor’s dark synth-soaked majesty and Dimmu Borgir’s symphonic overload, these bands have retained the nastiness at black metal’s heart while propelling it to somewhere other.

And so it is with Necronautical. Slain In The Spirit is the band’s fourth album and it pushes the boundaries further than ever before. Opener Ritual Recursion is a dizzying taster. There are big orchestral sweeps and operatic vocals soaring above discordant riffs and technical stabs of guitar. It’s sprawling but never unfocused, and that’s just the start. Occult Ecstatic Indoctrination has a warped carnival feel with its banks of organ and off-kilter riffs while the epic title-track presents the perfect mix of atmosphere and aggression and Pure Consciousness Event adds a post-metal swirl.

There’s so much going on it can almost be bewildering. Even the relatively straightforward thrusts of Necropsychonautics (about the idea that at the moment of death the brain floods with chemicals that almost get you high off your own demise) and Hypnagogia never quite take the straight road from A to B, preferring to drop some hallucinogens and take a long detour instead. This exploratory approach also suits the band’s lyrical predilection for the occult and esoteric, as they peer at death through a layer of poetry. At this point Necronautical have transcended black metal and most other notions of genre but there’s still a savage heart of darkness lurking within. Slain In The Spirit is crushingly heavy but it’s also relentlessly melodic, impressively inventive and surprisingly catchy. It’s magnificent, frankly, and one that deserves your attention.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Dimmu Borgir, Absu, Winterfylleth

Slain In The Spirit is released on August 20 via Candlelight

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