Curse / Styggelse / WAN – Necroholic 3-way Split

Necroholic Cover

Label: Satanath Records / Black Plague Records / The True Plague

Ugh! This split is god-damned dirty. Bringing together three bands under the banner of underground blasphemy, Necroholic is forty minutes of fist-to-the-face metal, with all three bands – Curse, originally from Iceland; Sweden’s Styggelse; and WAN, also hailing from Sweden – offering black metal reminiscent of the days when the genre was still in its infancy. This release exudes old-school underground atmosphere, and absolutely races by in a fury of headbanging and raised fists.

Curse get the record going, with “Exploding Head” setting the tone. It’s soon clear that theirs is black metal which is metal first and foremost, with a sound that draws heavily from the dirtier end of 80s thrash, as well as plenty of Celtic Frost and Venom. It’s far from one-dimensional though, with “The Observer” showing that they can command tempos far slower than those on their other songs and still succeed in crafting a song full of power and darkness that keeps attention held. “War Of One” even has a slightly uncomfortable aura to it at points, tapping in to the more unsettling aspects of black metal without going to far left-field; and the cover of “Ace Of Spades” is a fine tribute to Lemmy, wisely choosing to play the song straight (you don’t fuck with perfection) and doing it justice – a harder task than it first appears.

Following on, Styggelse carry on in much the same form, with the drum intro to “Angel Blood Shed” being reminiscent of Judas Priest’s “Painkiller”, but there’s no mistaking the razor-sharp guitars and harsh vocals as anything other than old-school black-thrash. “Stay True To Satan For Eternity” ensures there is no doubt as to the band’s blasphemous nature, the song being every bit as heretical and hell-raising as you would hope for with such a title. Styggelse’s third and final track, “No Team In I”, mixes even harsher moments with an undeniable rock swagger, even making good use of cowbell – not something you’d expect from black metal, but it works.

WAN close the split, and their five tracks are the murkiest, more oppressive of the lot. Whereas both Curse and Styggelse have plenty of metal mixed in with the black, and could pretty much work as black metal drinking music, with WAN the balance is inverted; this isn’t good time metal. The hateful, oppressive nature of songs like “Dirty Bastards” and is undeniable, and the use of slower tempos – as on “I Brand” – suits the atmosphere WAN wish to create well. If you’re after something cold and unsettling, without ever losing its grip on the fact that it is black metal, then WAN’s offering will be very satisfying.

Taken as a whole, Necroholic should be considered a triumph for all involved. The music and atmosphere of each band works well both individually and when placed together, though which band you favor depends on what you’re looking for in your black metal. Either way, there’s no denying that Necroholic is a prime slice of true underground black metal, old-school in approach and attitude, with nothing fancy or extraneous; just solid metal. Ugh!

Necroholic can be streamed and downloaded via Bandcamp; CD versions are available from Curse’s Bigcartel and Bandcamp pages, and also from the Satanath Records Bandcamp page and website.

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