Wednesday 13 – Necrophase (2019)

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It seems that zombies, freaks and horror never loses its place in our social consciousness. Horror films have been made since movies were able to be produced. I reckon cave people told scary stories around the fire. Michael Jackson ruled the world with “Thriller”, particularly the video. Rob Zombie has made music and films that have frightened and delighted us. Every piece of metal merch I own has some demonic or horror reference on it. In Australia, we are even buying into Halloween.

Why? It’s cool, it inspires all sorts of rich emotions and it is a great form of escapism from our everyday lives.

Enter “Necrophase”.

This is the 8th album from these masters of horror inspired punk. It draws its subject matter from serial killers and 80s horror movies. But, what about the title of the album? Wednesday 13 reckons he has been going through his necro phase for a long time… Clever!

The album contains 12 tracks (two of which are short) and it has a duration of 41 minutes. Making appearances on it are Roy Mayorga (Stone Sour), Alexi Laiho(Children of Bodom), Jeff Clayton (Murder Junkies), Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) and the Godfather of Shock Rock himself, Alice Cooper. This adds much to the fabric of the experience.

“Necrophase” begins the show with a keyboard/ bass opening and Alice Cooper lends his sinister presence through the spoken word. There’s bodies, worms and an assertion that “decomposition is my addiction”. For the first minute or so things are spooky and serene, before an amazing opening riff reanimates the track. The keyboards add much to the chilling atmosphere and this soon becomes a feature of the album. Wednesday 13’s voice is superb – muscular gravel. The track has much attitude and style.

“Bring Your Own Blood” has thunder haemorrhaging at the beginning and synths are used to offer a totally different sound. The horror theme is again abundantly apparent and the track soon bursts back into familiar fare – killer riffs and spooky synths. There are also periods of minimalism that adds diversity of sound. This track has a real Rob Zombie feel and would be well placed in a horror film.

“ZODIAC” has a heartbeat-like opening, which is then partnered with samples from the news reports about the San Francisco serial killer of this name. Driving, industrial riffs augment soft and sinister vocals. In one place a sample is used to complete the rhyme of the track. It’s amazingly astute. The track moves along at a steadfast pace and is somewhat emotionless in vocal style – parallel to the profile of a serial killer. The track then morphs awesomely with a tempo change and a different guitar sound. It’s disturbing and disquieting track.

“Monster” crashes open in a melodic manner with great guitar work. Cristina Scabbia’s presence adds much to the track and it is as catchy as hell. A wailing and intricate guitar solo enriches the offering and it closes with sinister vocal roars.

“Decompose” opens reflectively, with a calm and operatic organ. I was waiting for the explosion and wasn’t disappointed. Another tasty riff appears, alongside creepy keyboards. It’s a disturbingly catchy track, as before you know it you’re singing, “I love that you’re dead, but I wish you could be deader.”

“Be Warned” reverberates open, with Jeff Clayton speaking around a campfire, warning us about the big, black hearse… Or, that’s how I saw it in my head. It’s a short cautionary tale, which segues terrifically into…

“The Hearse”, which roars onward with a wall of sound. Double kick drumming and keyboards are used to great effect to add a feeling of terror. Sinister vocals hang off charging guitar riffs and I soon had another movie playing in my head about the evil black hearse. Again, I was soon singing disturbing lyrics. It’s operatic and addictive. The track closes with a frightening wail.

“Tie Me a Noose” again ties you up with dense sound and another robust and rollicking guitar. It’s a different sound again, keeping you engaged in the album – it’s just not the same thing over and over again. The guitar solo is no different – echo/ reverb is used to have a different feel. This was another that left me a little disturbed, wondering about challenging mental health and enablers of it.

“Life Will Kill Us All” is like a crazed carnival. It’s slower in nature and the diversity of sound continues. Mischievous vocals are used to convey a message of struggling against the odds.

“Bury the Hatchet” splits things open again, opening in a frantic manner. It’s a charming break up song, where it is suggested that the people involved bury the hatchet – into their head… This track is intense and unrelenting.

“Necrophaze Main Theme – End-Credits” opens with thunder and the ominous operatic organ. Alice Cooper again lends his significant presence to close the album proper.

“Animal – Fuck Like a Beast” is a W.A.S.P. track and Alexi Laiho makes an appearance. It’s fun in intent and very well executed. It’s got a great sound that gets into your head quickly, again encouraging you to sing some very inappropriate lyrics before you realise that you are doing so. It’s not one for polite company, if indeed you know anyone like that…

Wednesday 14’s vocals are compelling. They are like a dingo – savage one moment, calm the next; an animalistic growl, with a sprinkle of melody.

There’s a diversity of sound across the album, along with disturbing themes, clever lyrics and just the right amount of camp to make all that palatable.

“Necrophase” is an irresistibly enjoyable experience. It’s cinematic in scope and atmospheric in intent. Each track bleeds into the next and as an album, like a big, black hearse, it’s a Hell of a ride.

9/10

Greg Noble.

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