Nekroi Theoi’s “Brutal Death Metal against the status quo” tagline on their Bandcamp page is as good a way of any as setting expectations; looking at the description, you have an idea how they’ll sound, and what their lyrics will be about. And sure, Dead Gods is an album steeped in anti-religious sentiment, exploring the way that Christianity, racism, and capitalism intersect within American culture; but it’s also an album that challenges the status quo musically too.
You can sketch out a typical brutal death metal song in your head quite simply. There will be lots of down-tuned guitars, relentless drumming, plenty of groove, and a vocalist who alternatively sounds like they’re vomiting up their guts or doing an impression of a distressed pig. Those elements are present and correct on Dead Gods; but Nekro Theoi also offer up a sense of twisted religious grandeur that has more in common with orthodox black metal (especially the post-millennium French scene) than slam or brutal death metal. And with songs lengths that frequently stretch past the ten-minute mark, Dead Gods is an album that has as much atmosphere as it does straight-forward brutality.
It’s those atmospheric and musically unorthodox elements that make up the standout parts of Dead Gods. When Nekroi Theoi indulge in some mock-chanting and clean vocal intonations, Dead Gods absolutely breaks the mould of what brutal death metal can be and do; and as the album goes on, its atmosphere becomes utterly suffocating. It takes a few listens for its full strengths to be revealed, and some of the transitions feel a bit jarring, but on the whole Dead Gods is a monumental achievement, that challenges the status quo on multiple fronts.
Dead Gods is available now and can be purchased here.
Words: Stuart Wain