Invoking shades of Fleshgod Apocalypse and dare I say it Winds Of Plague, Brighton tech death outfit A Night In The Abyss deliver an atmospheric and listenable album which ultimately fails to live up to its full potential.
The discordant piano and synth-heavy opening of “Aborted Idol” makes no attempt to hide the direction the rest of the album will move in; one of the strongest tracks of the album, “Aborted Idol” serves as an effective hook, drawing in listeners with a diverse and engaging track complete with tempo changes, a melodic solo and no shortage of classical inspired synth. The liberal use of synth is a theme that runs throughout the entirety of Necropolis, providing some welcome seasoning for a meal that might otherwise be a bit bland. Don’t get me wrong, there are interesting riffs to be found in Necropolis, and songs like “Pavor Nocturnas” provide them in no small quantity, but an overabundance of blast-beats and a dearth of guitar driven melody leave the piano and other symphonic parts feeling more like a crutch than a feature.
That said, there’s certainly times when A Night In The Abyss manage to tie everything together with great skill, tracks like “Pestilence” feature heavy riffs, melodic synth and proggy breakdowns in tasteful proportions, and represent Necropolis at its best. The atmosphere of the record can’t be ignored either, with the use of orchestral instruments and synth creating a dark and grim backdrop for the guitars and vocals to perform against in no small way reminiscent of Winds Of Plague. But for every interesting riff or breakdown, listeners have to wade through no small quantity of uninspired and derivative sound. This might have the effect of making the moments of glory in the album shine all that brighter, but at the cost of boring the listener for the rest of Necropolis, it’s not a price worth paying.
All in all, Necropolis isn’t a bad album, it’s definitely enjoyable and worth listening to with tracks like “Aborted Idol” standing out as excellent, but it doesn’t really do anything that Obscura or Fleshgod Apocalypse hasn’t already done better. This is further compounded by the somewhat flat sounding drums which lack any real percussive impact and repetitive vocals in dire need of some range. Frustratingly, we’re teased with some varied and interesting vocals thanks to an appearance by PJ Tiernan of Into Infernus in “Cold Hearted Comeuppance,” whilst A Night In The Abyss vocalist Josh Hillier does introduce some variety into his own performance on other tracks, it’s not enough to rescue the vocals across the album as a whole.
Whilst the album isn’t perfect, Necropolis certainly shows that A Night In The Abyss have some real potential. There are interesting ideas and elements present throughout Necropolis that work to build a dark and grim atmosphere and certainly serve to entertain and engage the listener at points. Unfortunately though, Necropolis lacks enough unique and new ideas for it to truly stand out, whilst it’s definitely worth listening to as an album, it’s hard to recommend it in favour of work from bands like Fleshgod Apocalypse or Obscura, who ultimately do the same thing, but better. To sum it up, Necropolis is definitely listenable, just not memorable.
FFO: Obscura, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Winds Of Plague