Man, it’s been a while since I last did a review. In fact, the last one was … uh … well. This is getting a little awkward. Three of the last four now? Seriously?

All right. So before I do NECRONOMIDOL again, let me say that I’m also making a new year’s resolution to get more idol records and do more reviews, including some older stuff. Including something that I’m going to publish in like the next couple of days to break up this Necroma run. And then something else.

Great. On to the review!

Homicidols Album Review Scale:

Five Heartbleeds  One full Heartbleed, the logo of Homicidols.com, used for reviews: Both in relation to itself and music as a whole, this album could not possibly be any better.
Four Heartbleeds One full Heartbleed, the logo of Homicidols.com, used for reviews: This is a very damn good record, and you should probably buy it and listen to it all the time and consider starting a website dedicated to the artists that made it and albums like it.
Three Heartbleeds One full Heartbleed, the logo of Homicidols.com, used for reviews: More good than bad, but not great; one or two awesome songs can’t get it over the hump.
Two Heartbleeds One full Heartbleed, the logo of Homicidols.com, used for reviews: More bad than good, and lacks the kind of standout track that can take it out of the crappiness wallow.
One Heartbleed One full Heartbleed, the logo of Homicidols.com, used for reviews: This is a bad, bad piece of work. Do not buy this.
Zero Heartbleeds: People associated with this should be ashamed of themselves; there’s pride to be had in any effort made to meet a goal, but that’s your only reward. Please don’t make music anymore.

Back when I interviewed Necroma (be jealous!), I deliberate skirted questions about “STRANGE AEONS.” Ricky may have thought I was being weird, but the real fact of the matter is that I wanted to get more into their heads in the limited time available. Of course they were going to say that the single was good! Ricky would, of course, provide a suitable press release in English as befits the most Western-friendly manager in idol, and that would give all the supplemental info that I’d need.

So of course, when that press release came, I didn’t want to open the email. Here’s why: In a few months’ time, NECRONOMIDOL was responsible for two of my all-time favorite idol records (from chaos born and DEATHLESS), and, like a person who’s used to disappointment, I was worried that the newest release wasn’t going to be up to the same standard, no matter how much I liked DAWNSLAYER. I do have an anti-singles bias, after all (but bizarrely very pro-B-side).

And then my expectations turned to dust like so many foolish wota who dared to touch a member’s hand under a fool moon.

There are two physical versions of the single — PAEAN and DIRGE — each packing a third track in addition to “STRANGE AEONS” itself and the universal B-side, “WITCHING HOUR.” The digital version, available on Bandcamp and other platforms (but especially Bandcamp), will include all four songs. Writing credits, and art:

“WITCHING HOUR” is where you get … actually, how the hell do I address this? Once you’re past the screechy, hyper-distorted guitar that sounds either like an opening coffin or the first desperate, nigh-orgasmic gasp of air by the reanimated corpse within, it’s kind of like blackened NWOBHM, except for this cool syncopation move on the guitar and a main riff that sounds like it could have been pulled from a surf album (blackened surf, naturally). One could call it the spiritual cousin of “Idol’s Elegy” from  from chaos born.

“BLOODWINGS” on the PAEAN version, instrumentally, may be the tightest and most ambitious track in Necroma’s whole catalogue, but what sells the song is the vocals — whether it’s the mix or the members have just plain put in that much work, they sound great singing what could have played out as a dressed-up animetal track but instead is a power metal-inspired trip through many of the group’s signature musical moments, especially so “DAWNSLAYER” and “NAYENEZGANI.” Come for the big-ass riffs; stay for the piano interlude! Oh, and the creepily chanted chorus. That too.

If you have to choose between versions, get the DIRGE version with “dirge of baldr” on it. I’m on record — a very long record indeed! — of being a massive fan of Necroma’s more bizarrely bright and creative tracks, seeing as how beautifully twisted they often are, so take this with several grains of salt: It’s a dirge, yes, but once you start to feel like what you’re really listening to is an Anamanaguchi take on a NECRONOMIDOL song (Anamanidol!), you could be forgiven for not noticing that this isn’t just a dirge for the poor murdered Norse god of light, but for the world and human race, as it’s RAGNAROK time!

It’s actually the title track itself that gave me the most pause. Knowing what I knew of “STRANGE AEONS”, I wasn’t expecting a song loaded with many of my favorite moves in idol-style melodic metal, and so initially kind of winced, like I was preparing to get slapped. And then I decided to disregard the fact that I don’t like Kiba of Akiba and just take it for what it is. What it is, actually, is a wild ride through arguably the poppiest, animetal-est, funnest chorus that Necroma’s ever had. Forget what you thought dark idol music could sound like, strap in for an idol-friendly Friedman-esque shredathon, and pretend that the song is about … candy and amusement parks and dates with your friends. Definitely not:

Burn your soul away
The Final Day
And gaze into the Abyss
A new Black Dawn

So I was pretty happy with it in the end!

The total package of this maxi-single is at once familiar territory for NECRONOMIDOL fans, but (as always) taking some key risks with the “darkness idols” concept. From a production standpoint, “STRANGE AEONS” is the most mature recording of Necroma’s to date, and — just as I pointed out in the review for DEATHLESS — really getting to see a group come into itself and get intimate with its potential is a rare joy.  My only complaint is that I wish there were more opportunities for Necroma to show just how dark they can really get.

Score: One full Heartbleed, the logo of Homicidols.com, used for reviews One full Heartbleed, the logo of Homicidols.com, used for reviews One full Heartbleed, the logo of Homicidols.com, used for reviews One full Heartbleed, the logo of Homicidols.com, used for reviews One half of a Heartbleed, the logo of Homicidols.com, used for reviews

Handy Lyrics!