Necromancing the Stone
Jewel of the Vile
(Metal Blade Records)
Necromancing The Stone is a great example of a band whose appeal is easier to show than tell. The group features members of Arsis, The Absence, The Black Dahlia Murder, and Brimstone Coven, so you know talent isn’t an issue. The problem is that bands playing retro metal often fall into troublesome categories. Either they tune their guitars too low, smoke a bowl, and halfway through a tune forget how to write a song, or they just stay too close to what’s familiar to make a mark. While Necromancing The Stone are way different from your standard throwback metal, their time playing in their main/previous bands informs how they resurrect what made early metal so much damn fun.
Also, it’s just so much easier to just hit play on just about any track on this excellent album to get a better picture. “The Siren’s Call” and “The Old Ones” are some of the best metal tunes you’re likely to hear this year regardless of genre, and highlight what the band does so well. Musically, this feels like Maiden and Priest filtered through a modern lens. Occasionally, you’ll get hints of thrash or melodeath riffs (“Unfinished Business”), and harsh vocals do rarely creep in. The music is often fast enough to that some might notice nods to power metal. However, what Necromancing The Stone does is write metal for metalheads who have loved metal all their lives, or ones who can honestly remember their first time (with a metal record). These songs are bigger than your mom (who I’m sure is a saint, no matter her size), with twin-guitar leads and solos leading the way around wonderfully boisterous vocals courtesy of “Big” John Williams. Their appeal is similar to what makes Charred Walls Of The Damned so fun, but Necromancing The Stone is bigger, better, and feels even older.
That sense of age permeates everything about this record, which really does feel like a love letter to metal throughout the decades. The lyrical content revolving around evil does nothing but add another layer of nostalgia of the great ones. Jewel of the Vile really is a gem, and it’s likely that this will go down as the best metal album of the year. The care and love that went into the project is evident from the first riff, and it’s impossible not to smile along to this ode to metal.