Profile & Stream: Necrot
Oakland, California’s Necrot are as old-school death metal as old-school death metal gets. Their songs would have been welcome presences on early classics by Master, Bolt Thrower and Autopsy and yet, Necrot has a punk rock soul that refuses to die. This was the same spirit that one heard from Venom as they did their best to play metal songs well out of their technical reach, or from Motörhead as they kept their music short and to the point over their 40 year career.
Necrot’s three releases,each tapes adding up to a total of eight songs, aren’t merely a batch of ripping tracks; Necrot’s dedication to writing fat-free material never wavered even as the riffs became more jagged and serrated. On April 15th, Tankcrimes Records will release a compilation of those three tapes entitled The Labyrinth, with every song presented in its released order.
Treating it as a traditional full-length is an unrewarding task. Rather, The Labyrinth should be seen as a document. It captures a whirlwind pair of years in the band’s life, where no creative endeavors were wasted and where every track captured the Necrot at the best of their abilities. Check out a stream of “Rebirth in Chaos” from The Labyrinth.
After failed attempts at forming a full band, Necrot’s lineup on their first two releases consisted of only drummer Chad Gailey and Luca Indrio of Acephalix and Vastum, who pulled triple-duty in the studio on bass, vocals and guitars. This incarnation was a virtual dipole; Indrio and Gailey came from different ends of the musical spectrum (and even the globe), but eventually found themselves in similar spots. Indrio was raised with metal in his ears but he paid his dues alongside the punks in his hometown of Florence, Italy, at a local squat, the only place he and his friends could see shows that they enjoyed. Gailey in turn grew up learning to play drums to his favorite punk records in the suburbs of San Jose, California, eventually discovering metal at a later age. Their musical upbringings, rich with DIY ethics and values, encouraged them to approach Necrot with one idea: do it right, or don’t do it at all.
“I wanted a band that was going to work [a lot],” Indrio says. “Even my old band in Italy, they ended up not doing as much as I wanted. Usually because of the singer. We shared the same singer as Acephalix in Vastum, and he started going back to school and had different interests. Both bands were not going to do much–even the drummer had a baby–so I needed to start a band where I was singing so I wasn’t going to get screwed over by a singer, know what I mean? I knew that Chad was the right person to do it with. He was dedicated and he had the same passion and he was talented. I figured that I needed to concentrate on what was working instead of not working, or rather not working as much as I wished. I like to work, and Necrot seemed like the right thing to do.”
The first tape, the self-titled Necrot, quickly came into existence and was recorded by the late Jef Leppard in January 2012. Its two tracks are brutish and filthy, with Indrio’s hoarse shouts and Gailey’s caveman-like pounding barreling the songs forward. Indrio’s hooky riff-writing was already evident though; both “Consume Control” and “Contagious Pain” boast descents down the neck that are impossible to get out of your ears.
Necrot returned to the studio only eight months later to record the second tape, Into the Labyrinth. Greg Wilkinson of Earhammer Studios was brought in to engineer the release upon Leppard’s passing. Though it had only been a short time since his last studio session, Indrio’s voice had leaped in confidence and power. His and Gailey’s songwriting jumped forward in ambition as well. “Cycles of Pain” twists and turns, stops and starts on a dime and quickly builds to dizzying levels of aggression before ending with a reprise of its intro sequence. It’s an ace songwriting trick, and a masterful way of concluding Into the Labyrinth.
True to Necrot’s internal tenets, Indrio and Gailey refused to settle for anything less than the ideal guitar player. Do it right, or don’t do it at all. Shortly after the release of Into the Labyrinth, they finally found their mark in guitarist Sonny Reinhardt. “We didn’t want to rush on getting someone to play guitar. We had people asking before Sonny, ‘Can I play in Necrot?’ or whatever,” Indrio explains. “We didn’t just want to settle for anybody. We wanted someone that was good, had the right dedication and also someone fun and good to hang out with, a good friend. A combination of those things doesn’t necessarily come together quickly. So we waited, and it was good that we did.”
Compared to Indrio and Gailey, Reinhardt has led a chameleon-like musical existence–he has punched his card with New Mexican technical grinders Word Salad, the bug-eyed Oakland thrash band Watch Them Die and not least of all, Saviours from California.
Death metal was a somewhat new experience for the veteran axeman, but he approached these new songs with the same attitude as his other projects: give the song what it needs, and nothing more. “I couldn’t sweep a solo like a janitor could sweep a hall,” Reinhardt jokes. “I kind of try to write solos that are more melodically intertwined with the song, ones that you couldn’t really hear the song without it. I’m not anywhere close to a death metal soloist, so I’m coming at it in a totally weird way I’m sure. It’s like if David Gilmour took a bunch of speed and acid and had a really bad trip. Like Pat Benatar getting ripped in half. Like Jimi Hendrix lighting a Flying V on fire instead of a Strat.”
The new trio spent some extra time assembling the final tape of the trilogy, The Abyss, which finally saw the light of day in February 2014. The three tracks on the tape represent the apex of Necrot’s abilities, with Gailey flying about his kit and running his feet through a marathon, Indrio trading his weathered growl for a battle-ready roar. Reinhardt’s solos lead “Scattered” into its devastating bridge, drag the listener through the crawling breakdown of “Rebirth in Chaos” and guide the title track to its crashing fade out. The tracks come together in a tape that’s greater than the sum of its parts, a now-classic contribution to the bay’s extreme metal canon. Not a moment is wasted on The Abyss.
In the two years since that tape’s release, Necrot experienced heavy touring, a six-month hiatus and a rousing onstage comeback at the Golden Bull in Downtown Oakland. Necrot’s progression from tape to tape isn’t lost on the band themselves. In fact, it’s been a part of the grand design from the very beginning.
“The first three tapes were intended to be a series,” Gailey explains. “I feel like each one of them, that’s how they were meant to be. Whenever we were ready to record, that’s how it was going to be. If we’re not ready, we won’t record. That’s the ability that we were at that point in time, and now I think that we’re way fuckin’ better since the first demo came out.”
Pursuant to this, the band will release a formal album, their first. “The Labyrinth is the accomplishment of our initial project,” Indrio says. “Our plan was always do the three tapes, then do the next album. The writing is I’d say, 75% done for the new one. We’re going to be ready to record really soon. We always wanted this band to be working organically or naturally. We waited for the right person to join on guitar. We never asked anything of anyone, we waited to see if a label would help us out or whatever.”
There may be an appreciable wait until we see the first Necrot full-length record but we have The Labyrinth, the document of their growth from one-two beatdowns to aggressively perfected maelstroms from hell. The wait will be well worth it if Necrot continue to follow the approach they’ve taken since day one, the approach that made me drive hundreds of miles just to see their comeback show at the Golden Bull. Death metal made with punk rock standards. Do it right, or don’t do it at all.
Necrot / Skullshitter – 2016 Tour Dates
04/28 – Providence, RI – Dusk Bar
04/29 – Montreal, QC – Katacomba
04/30 – Buffalo, NY – Rockin’ Buffalo Saloon
05/01 – Detroit, MI – New Dodge Lounge
05/02 – Lexington, KN – Best Friends Bar
05/03 – Cincinnati, OH – North Side Yacht Club
05/05 – Chicago, IL – Livewire Chicago
05/06 – Pittsburgh, PA – Gooskis
05/07 – Baltimore, MD – Sidebar
05/08 – Brooklyn, NY – The Acheron
05/13 – New Brunswick, NJ – The Clinic
05/14 – Richmond, VA – Strange Matter
05/15 – Philadelphia, PA – Millcreek Tavern