Necromancing the Stone – “Jewel of the Vile” (Metal Blade Records)
On the face of it, the cheesy name of Necromancing the Stone suggests another contender for the Spinal Tap Hall of Fame – that is, until you take a look at the line up! Comprised of Big John Williams (vocals) and Justin Wood (guitars) from Brimstone Coven, Ryan Williams (bass) formerly of the Black Dahlia Murder, James Malone (guitars) from Arsis and The Absence’s Jeramie Kling on drums, you just know that “Jewel of the Vile” ain’t gonna be a ‘pretentious ponderous collection of religious rock psalms’ ha ha. Not by any means. Actually, being a nationwide band drawn from all corners of the US through the unifying bond of metal, strangely enough modern heavy metal is exactly what they play! Similar to Charred Walls of the Damned, this isn’t true or retro heavy metal but its natural evolution decades on from the 80s, where brutality and bliss happily went hand in hand in what I remember as headbanger heaven. Equally, I wouldn’t expect anything close to any of the bands these guys have played in, although anyone into today’s popular metal genres will no doubt recognize elements drawn from them, although returning to their roots in the form of heavy metal, from whence they originally came. I thoroughly enjoyed “Jewel of the Vile” right from the blinding opener of ‘Crusher’ to ‘The Siren’s Call’ and ‘Ritualistic Demise’, enjoying some of the tightest musicianship I’ve heard in a long while. It’s like all the instruments are being played until they literally melt in their own power – or disintegrate as in Kling’s damaging drums – in stark contrast to the flowing and blissful melodies from the twin guitars of Wood and Malone, while Williams’s soulful vocals adds the generous icing to this par excellence release. Can’t wait for the sequel!