Disclaimer: Necronomidol is making an explicitly international push for this record; this humble little site was included in their press release, which, wow. And because I surf social media all the time for idol news and saw the pre-release stuff hit Facebook the other day, I was out in front of the announcement; hence, this is a little bit of a hybrid. How appropriate!
On to the review!
For those who know, Necronomidol doesn’t need any selling. The Dark Girls, the ultradarkest of idols, the owners of blackened and doomed idol metal (and more), they have a truly unique place in a churning, impossibly busy scene.
For newer people, though, they’re an enigma. Their sound recalls a Norwegian record shop built around the scene of a double murder, the walls painted in pastels to take some of the oppression out of the air. Beats will swerve from black metal to trance even in the same song, and deliberately flat or over-pitched vocals create uneasy atmospherics that tritone-playing instruments couldn’t pull off on their own.
In other words, Necroma isn’t always accessible, but initiatory, and maybe that’s part of the thinking behind from chaos born; now that they’re two years old and have crossed off most of an idol’s bucket list items, it’s time to see what else can be conquered. This EP, then, has a foot deeply in what built Necroma’s fan base, and toes dipping into some unfamiliar stylistic water.
As a total project, it also shows the group’s growing presence in the broader alt-idol scene. While Maeda Toshio returned (I believe) for the cover art after a great job on NEMESIS, Sotobayashi Kenta of BiSH and Oyasumi Hologram fame is providing the inner photography.
from chaos born is also procedural, the end result of Necroma’s performance of a new song every week in the lead-up to their anniversary one-man at the legendary Ebisu Liquidroom, their biggest venue yet; this isn’t even all of their new material, which I think lends credence to it being a short-term best-of compilation of sorts at a definite pivot point in the group’s career.
Physical release of the EP will be on June 15 across Japan, with simultaneous digital releases to iTunes, Google and Amazon; whether it makes it to U.S. or European web stores then or shortly thereafter is a matter of conjecture. But you should hope that it does, because this is a very good bit of music.
I evaluated NEMESIS in terms of what worked (most of it) and what didn’t (just a few little things). I’m not doing that here, because everything on from chaos born works. It’s all different, with every song bringing something else to the table, but it’s also all good, and that’s important. Taken song by song, you’ll be able to see how disparate-but-pleasing the whole is.
In my response to the teaser, I called “psychopomp” black metal in a music box, and I’ll stand by that. While it starts off reminding me of a companion piece for “Puella Tenebrarum” from NEMESIS, once you clear the first couple of verses and the song’s energy collides with its themes, the vocals soar along over Burzum as interpreted by Sparta. It’s a tremendous song, one you might think would be sending you home the way that “‘UMR AT-TAWIL” did … but it’s just the beginning, and it’s immense.
“Shimin Kaihougun” brings Necroma back to the NWOBHM territory that they inhabit well, but with pianos and harpsichord (! why not?) and some very melodeath moments … until a break takes us into Billy Gould territory that builds back on the original theme, charges into a Malmsteen-esque guitar solo and shreds its way to a power metal conclusion. Yeah, that’s one song.
“Nyx” is the alt-rockers’ track on here; my very meta comment is that it’s the shoegazer version of Zenbu Kimi no Sei Da’s “Battle of Identerror,” which definitely isn’t a bad thing to be. “Tamam Shud,” on the other hand, which I likened to a dance party, is just so SO damn idol that its apparent subject, a mysterious murder, must be the dark part. In its bright synths and Momoclo guitar arrangements, I hear Japan; in the vocal melody, I’m in a club in Liverpool in 1998 and catching an emerging trend in Britpop.
When it comes to “Midnight Dominator,” you could be forgiven for thinking that the Rob Halford announcement got its idols mixed up; Judas Priest is where my brain went. This is a fist to the face, very straightforward. In a purely metal sense, this might be my favorite song on here.
But I’m going to actually give that title to “Idols Elegy,” which is basically a Nekromantix cover of the Beach Boys backed by Dick Dale but performed by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (or, I guess, Necronomidol!). It’s sway dancing on a warm summer evening (MAYBE IN NEW CALEDONIA!) while slowly slipping into the unconsciousness that you emerge from just long enough to realize that you’re being drowned in the hotel pool … and you don’t care. I want to meet this song in person just so I can shake its hand.
In total, from chaos born is throwing six completely new songs into the top 10 or 15 of Necronomidol’s catalog. Every track is strong, the production is right on point, the arrangements are about 95 percent there, and the all-important vocals are very well-written and well-composed into the body of the songs.
I want to be able to give this a perfect score; the sentiment is there. But I could find imperfection in new-fallen snow, and, at least aurally, this feels more like a collection of songs than an intentional recording. Is that even much of a ding? Point-blank, if you like music and you like idols and a little twist of weird gets your attention, you’re going to at least like this album, if not love it.
All in all, Necronomidol is about to release one of the best overall alt/heavy/dark idol albums to date, and the timing could not be more perfect to be reaching out internationally, too. I hope that metal and darkwave fans are able to access this music and connect with it; the bar in idol is being raised all the time, and Necroma is giving the dial another turn.
Added to the Ultimate Homicidol Playlist: Nothing, because I lack the means, but I’m betting dollars to National Donut Day that some good video will emerge from this record. Also, Ricky, make some video please and thanks.