After some major line-up changes in 2020 ultra-dark idol unit NECRONOMIDOL return with their fourth album vämjelseriter. It finds the princesses of darkness donning corpse paint and pushing their sound to further extremes to deliver a post-black metal feast of the highest order.
With its haunting opening, TUPILAQ could quite easily come from the soundtrack of a horror movie. A nightmare in deep space, it sets a rather dark, ominous tone, a spell that’s cast and then suddenly broken as the song abruptly bursts into life. If any doubts existed about the line-up changes then they’re shattered by the sublime harmonies that permeate TUPILAQ. Veteran member Himari Tsukishiro (formerly of Bakuon Dolls Syndrome) has taken a more central role in the group and her voice has become the totem around which the others swirl. Musically, it’s everything that fans could wish for as it swings with an inherent groove and is anchored by a beat that rises and falls with the force of ocean waves.
There’s a definite Nordic influence on the album, from the cover and its title (it’s Swedish for ‘rites of detestation’) to the sound contained within. Like the very best black metal, this is a record that draws heavily upon atmospherics; it’s ice-cold, brittle and frostbitten. Steely, surgical synths scythe the air which juxtaposes the organic instrumentation and, that’s just one of many tension of opposites that echo throughout vämjelseriter. Take LAMENT CONFIGURATION for example, a bright, bouncy beat propels the song forward yet the lyrics exist within a dark quagmire: “Your soul is mine/Eternal agony awaits/Taste with me/A bloodstained future”. Like being stretched upon a medieval rack it pulls the listener in two directions (in the best possible way, of course).
NECRONOMIDOL previously operated a quintet but this new four-piece unit sounds far tighter, less cluttered and more streamlined. It’s as if everything has been focused into a laser beam and the resulting sound is far more direct and punchy. Vocally too things are clearer and the harmonies reach a glass-shattering pitch on cassilda and, like the witches from Macbeth, they weave an evil spell on R’LYEH. However, what I really like about vämjelseriter is its multifaceted nature. No two songs inhabit the same sonic space and it is an album that’s constantly shifting gears from the funereal dirge of celephais to the windswept thrash of ABHOTH, it’s a constantly shapeshifting affair that certainly keeps you on your toes.
I always felt that the live environment was NECRONOMIDOL’s natural habitat and these songs are sure to transfer well, especially SALEM. With its pure black metal blast beats, ambient midsection and haunting vocal it’s a truly harrowing track…so make sure you keep the lights on! If Japanese bands were eligible for the Eurovision Song Contest then I’m certain that santa sangre would win, hands down with it’s upbeat, effervescent vibe. Vämjelseriter is an album that builds to an epic conclusion and they don’t come more epic than RITUAL. Pulling all the different strands together into a cohesive whole it creates a sense of closure and ensures things end on an atmospheric, ominous tone.
With virtually a whole new unit (aside from Himari) vämjelseriter is something of a ‘make or break’ album for NECRONOMIDOL and it’s a test they passed with flying colours. Most of the songs (lyrically or musically) will already be familiar to fans in some guise so keeping the same songwriting team while moving in a darker direction was a smart move and should, rightfully, gain them a larger audience.
2. LAMENT CONFIGURATION
7. phantasmagoria cosmos
8. santa sangre
11. ex oblivione