Necrophagist Epitaph

Despite their goregrind-sounding moniker, Deutschland techies Necrophagist are far from the feckless drunks that dwell in this metal subgenre. Having begun as a one-man project, band founder Muhammed Suicmez quietly released 1999’s Onset Of Putrefaction to no fanfare until Willowtip Records stumbled upon it, remastered and re-released it this year. Meanwhile, Suicmez assembled a real band and signed with Relapse to release Necrophagist’s sophomore outing. Though Suicmez is a dyed-in-the-wool disciple of Chuck Schuldiner, Epitaph has more of a Control Denied feel than strictly a Death one — with wide swaths of expert musicianship ranging from Spiral Architect to the Cynic/Aghora fold. His screaming guitar leads in opener "Stabwound” are exceptional, and drummer Hannes Grossman is on par with the best skinsmen in the biz: Strapping Young Lad’s Gene Hoglan, Control Denied’s Richard Christy and Morbid Angel’s Pete Sandoval. "The Stillborn One” has some Morbid Angel leanings, as Suicmez growls his way deep into the souls of Deicide fans. "Ignominious & Pale” bears the Swedish standard in melodic guitar leads, and "Diminished to Be” goes even further in brandishing old At The Gates parts. "Only Ash Remains” highlights the record’s most blindingly perfect solo, and the tune ends strangely enough with a tauntingly Macabre-like outro. "Seven” contains a bass intro that recalls Sadus’ Steve DiGiorgio, and "Symbiotic In Theory” turns what’s left of your brain to jelly. More hungry than Broken Hope but less nerdy than Canvas Solaris, Epitaph is the best technical-death album since Monstrosity’s In Dark Purity and a sure bid for this year’s best album. (Relapse)