Look, goblins are real. Probably. Regardless of how you feel about it, one thing is certain: Nekrogoblikon is very real and back with another melodic death metal offering. If the name was too subtle for you, all you have to do is look at an official band photo to see there’s an actual goblin in the band. John Goblikon, official band mascot and hypeman (hypegoblin?), is literally a goblin, not a guy in a costume. We’ve been through this before. He and the humans in the band are here to usher in a new monstrous era with Welcome to Bonkers.
In case you couldn’t tell, this isn’t your average metal band. Nekrogoblikon are wildly tongue-in-cheek and like to have fun. Their video for “No One Survives” was a huge viral hit (by metal music standards) and it’s easy to see why. We’re talking about a band whose last album was called Heavy Meta and had a song on it called “We Need a Gimmick“. This may be enough for you to prejudge the band and determine whether or not you’d even be into their music, and if you have, I contend that you press on and try it. The beauty of this band, particularly with Welcome to Bonkers, is its hook factor. It’s endlessly catchy, utilizing sweet and heavy guitar licks and entertaining vocals melodies that stick in your head. It ends up being a wonderfully lighthearted take on modern melodeath music established by bands like The Black Dahlia Murder.
Nekrogoblikon really kick up the intensity on songs like “The Many Faces of Dr. Hubert Malbec”. It’s a quick-witted track with rapid fire vocals. Eric Brown, the band’s newly appointed drummer, really builds a solid rhythm section that contributes just as much to this album’s heavier tone as he does to the infectious foot-tapping aspects of tracks. “The Skin Thief” is probably the best example of this and it’s no wonder the band made it the album’s lead single. The melody established early on by the keyboards is expounded by wild guitar work and Nicholas Von Doom’s versatile vocals, which make the song a pretty digestible piece.
Silliness is something that pervades all of Welcome to Bonkers, as with the rest of the band’s music. After all, this is music centered around vulgar, violent, hedonistic goblins from space that have a bone to pick with humans. To the contrary of that point, though, “The Magic Spider” is a cute little tune about a magic spider that grants wishes. It’s a piano-centric piece with mostly clean vocals that evokes thoughts of Edguy, but the main melody gets a guitar interpretation and it genuinely slays. “Thanks for Nothing, Moon” is a humorous green middle finger to that big rock that orbits Earth. It has a nice harmony between all the instruments that’s bouncy and fun.
I must give a shoutout to “Killing Time (and Space)” as my favorite track with its banjo intro, accordion accents and general folky disposition, which is flanked by thrashy bass and guitar riffing. Finntroll is a fairly obvious comparison. It’s one of the couple tracks in the list that is really differentiated from the rest. Of course I can’t mention ‘different’ without touching on “Goblins” which is a legitimate power ballad straight from the 80s. The cleanly sung, anthemic vocals reluctantly advocate for the little green monsters: ‘I still believe in goblins’. It’s the satirical icing on the parody cake; heartfelt piano, cheesy guitar chords and all. Get wavy hair extensions, some eyeliner, grab a couple friends and sing along loudly in a car or a karaoke stage if you’re feeling brave (or just drunk).
To get serious about this for one minute, Nekrogoblikon have been around for a while now. This is their fourth album, and while I think it’s probably their tightest effort yet, I must wonder how much further the band can take this without a pretty major overhaul. The concept is beginning to show its age and while musically there’s always room for innovation and incorporation of other elements, it’s a lot harder to change up a concept or gimmick this far into a band’s career. From here on out, I feel like the band is going to have to change up their formula considerably to remain engaging to fans.
This is a little above par for Nekrogoblikon. Super catchy, super ridiculous, and something to look into if you’re into the style they’re going for. If you’re a fan, you know what to expect and you won’t be disappointed, especially as this is their heaviest stuff in a while. For others, I say give it a try! This is hook-heavy, melodic as hell and does not take itself seriously at all, but the musicianship isn’t lacking as a result of this lighthearted approach. You know I love my fun music, and this is a textbook example of that. Even if you don’t believe in goblins, it’s hard not to have a good time when listening to Welcome to Bonkers.
Notable Tracks: “The Many Faces of Dr. Hubert Malbec”; “The Skin Thief”; “Killing Time (and Space)”
FFO: Alestorm, Gloryhammer, GWAR