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Into the Macabre (1987)

Released in 1987 by Nightmare Productions, Into the Macabre is the debut effort from Necrodeath. This Italian black/thrash metal band took a bit of the old school horror atmosphere, from the likes of Argento, Fulci and Bava and combined this with musical influences that include Venom, Slayer, Bathory and Kreator. The end result is something far darker and even more intense than what Bulldozer had accomplished with their early output.

The material is varied and dynamic, featuring a variety of tempos and showcasing great skill in songwriting and playing. This possesses a raw and primitive feel, at times, while displaying more technical proficiency than some of their peers, at other points. While the album is dominated by fast-paced riffs and drums that pummel you into oblivion, there are a good number of slower melodies that create an occult and ritualistic atmosphere. "Internal Decay" is the best example of this mixture of intensity and darkness. The vocals are fairly harsh, yet still decipherable, though they take on an added distortion on occasion, injecting the music with an element of demonic infestation. There are a few instances where Ingo unleashed blood-curdling screams, as well. The only thing that would have been better would have been for him to slow things down and to not bother trying to fit in so many lyrics, during points where they did not fit naturally. There is a thick and heavy sound to the guitars, which works well to accentuate the violent and destructive aura of the riffs. The bass work bears similarities with that found on Hell Awaits, often following along with the main riffs at a frenzied pace. The drumming is fairly barbaric and unpolished, taking some cues from that found on Pleasure To Kill. While a lot of the music is straightforward, to a degree, all of the songs feature several tempo changes that keep things interesting and ensure that each track retains its own identity. There is a decent amount of Thrash mixed in here, but to label this as such would not be correct. The lead solos do well to increase the hellish atmosphere. Interesting enough, as it relates to incorporating ideas inspired by their influences, Necrodeath is sometimes able to make better use of these styles than the originators. For example, the hints of Celtic Frost that are found in "Graveyard of the Innocents". The music on this L.P. is energetic and memorable, much moreso than many of their contemporaries. While a lot of bands sacrificed this element for utter brutality, Necrodeath managed to retain the fury of primordial black/thrash metal while creating haunting melodies and riffs that echo throughout your mind.

The production, definitely, has an underground sound. Though each instrument is heard fairly clearly, it all tends to blend together in a thick wall, sometimes. The mix of this record favours the guitar, quite a bit, as this is the truly dominant aspect of the music. Aggressive and powerful, this mix enables the riffs to really bash your skull in. The vocals are also kind of prominent, which is a good thing since it is so much a part of the band's character. Burying either one of these would have been very detrimental to the overall impact of this album. The production is a lot more professional than that of The Shining Pentagram, yet it still retains a raw and obscure feeling. The general sound seemed to be influential itself, as a similar approach can be heard on The Awakening, by Merciless.

Into the Macabre is a very good album and one of the real highlights of Italian metal. This belongs right up there with The Day of Wrath. The only real complaint about this record is its relative short length, barely clocking in over half an hour. With such high quality material, this could have gone for another ten or fifteen minutes, easily. Then again, it is better to quit while you are ahead and to leave people wanting more, rather than dragging things out and making the experience a tedious one. For an atmosphere dark enough to rob you of sight and hellish enough for you to suffer the eternal flames, Necrodeath's first album is calling your name. Get this at once.
(8 Dec. 2011)

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