If there is one thing the world could use more of, it’s thrash metal. Canada in particular often seems to have a somewhat fractured scene, and so it is always a treat to discover a new band playing this style of music from my home country. Phylactery is billed as a death/thrash act with heavy influences from Sacrifice and Morbid Saint. In all honesty, this might be a bit of a disingenuous take; the former band’s sound really can’t be heard at all on “Necromancy Enthroned”, while the latter may be occasionally channeled sonically, but not quite in spirit. The real problem is that Phylactery’s vocals are straight-up death metal, displaying absolutely no thrash influence. This makes their sound definitively more diluted than the classic death/thrash acts of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Where Phylactery does shine, however, is in their riff arsenal. Thrash has always been about the riffs, and “Necromancy Enthroned” is filled to the brim with razor-sharp riffing. The guitar tone is particularly savage, making every note an aggressive experience. When the band does any form of simple picking on the low E string, this piercing tone is accentuated. The guitars aren’t excessively downtuned, allowing the bass enough room to fill the low end without sounding redundant. This is most evident when the riffs occasionally work their way up the fretboard. The production is where much of the atmosphere of this release comes from as it allows the band to successfully capture an old-school vibe. One strange curiosity about the production is that the volume actually changes across a couple of songs ("King of Ruin" into "Where I Dwell" is one example, but it also happens again towards the end of the record). It isn’t problematic, but is certainly jarring. Aside from this minor blip, the sound of this album is what will appeal to people most.
Unquestionably, “Necromancy Enthroned” will be worshipped by any thrashers who can’t stand most modern bands. But unsurprisingly, this comes at a price. The songwriting on this record is simply adequate. The riffs rule for their runtime, but have little staying power, and there aren’t any specific vocal patterns or even sections that are extremely memorable once the album ends. This is definitely a good record, and I have no doubt that anyone who is a fan of Unspeakable Axe or Dark Descent Records will hail this as an album of the year contender, but for my tastes, it is neither true enough to it’s stated influences, nor close enough to its modern contemporaries to rank alongside either.
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All of it
3.9/5 or 78%.
Written by Scott