Conjuring The Necromancer
Review by Greg on February 6, 2024.
Begravement is the latest, and ostensibly most serious, project by estimated fellow MA user Ezra Blumenfeld. Since I'm considered young by common sense, and yet I'm still 6 years older than the eldest member of the here examined band, I can't help but speak like a man in his fifties and say that it's always nice and refreshing to see young blood delve into extreme metal in 2021 A.D., nothing less. But I better cut short the boomer-isms right here and start introducing their newest EP Conjuring the Necromancer.
On a surface level, Begravement's formula is a take on that death/thrash hybrid which was arguably mastered by Merciless, Repugnant and the criminally overlooked, contemporary Chileans Ripper. Yet, the enthusiasm only teenagers can have means that they don't want to rest on their laurels too much, and they constantly try to spice things up offering plenty of instrumental solutions, melodic twists and wannabe-progressive moments which, I'm sure, are likely to occupy more and more space in the future. The band even labels itself 'technical death' but, thankfully, they're more interested in the pioneering '90s sound than in the sterile (and saturated) post-2000 tech-death scene.
So, an old-school sound, old-school like the somewhat cheesy, but fitting, synths/bells intro with simulated vinyl scratches and whatnot. It gives way to a midpaced riff which is the perfect setup for the inevitable buildup of the straightforward opener, without a doubt the most apt song to kickstart Conjuring the Necromancer. It features the catchiest chorus, some glimpses and teases of the most elaborate moments which will be found in subsequent tracks and, in a quite audacious move, all of the four(!) guest vocalists on the EP; and while this last choice can seem (and sound) quite confusing, there's at least one thing we can all be sure after this track: these lads have chops, personality, and remarkably sized attributes. Each track here lasts for about five minutes, and while at this early stage you have to expect some trimmable fat (my picks would be 'Destroying Angel''s slightly overlong ending or the... overabundant word count of 'Opaque Malevolence'), the songwriting has already a clear vision of what it wants to be. You can clearly tell these young guys spent a good chunk of the various lockdowns refining these six compositions, even if I felt that the first half ended up being the most convincing.
Yes, all the members put their soul into their performances and more, considering that they also share lead guitar duties (yep, drummer included), never giving the impression of someone going beyond his capabilities. My personal favourite solo was undoubtedly the finale of 'Death-Obsessed': its pace change brought a genuine, if unexpected, grin to my face... but there are other brilliant moments as well. The EP production is also more than acceptable, and I sincerely hope they won't get too much old-school, in this aspect, on an eventual full-length, since that would mean sacrificing all those little tweaks and variations in the sound which would get inevitably lost in a muddier mix.
As far as Ezra's vocal work goes, taking a guess at his main sources of inspiration (or mere similarities), I would say that, on top of a pretty expectable (for the genre) raspy growl, he sometimes nails that early Martin van Drunen gravelly howl (think of a less mature version of him), with a dose of L-G Petrov for the occasional shrieks. Granted, there's a bit too much fluctuation in intensity for such illustrious comparisons, especially during extended vocal passages like in 'Opaque Malevolence', but again, it's quite a venial sin in this phase of their career. The title-track features also a snippet of, gasp, clean vocals, which plausibly betray the year in which Begravement operate, but work nicely to build a somewhat 'emotional' bridge.
All things considered, a release like Conjuring the Necromancer is unquestionably a success in the growth process of an emerging band. I haven't checked Ezra's other main band Pyreworks, but I'll surely follow Begravement more closely from now on – they tick all the right boxes to become a real menacing force in the near future.
Rating: 7.2 out of 10749
Review by Alex Grindor on April 4, 2021.
Spawned from Minnesota, Begravement made their debut some months ago with the release of Conjuring The Necromancer, a 6-track EP that has shown a lot of potential from this young group, as well as a proper homage to the classics of old.
With a brief sinister intro we are introduced to 'To the Grave'. Begravement's style is rooted in death/thrash, yet still they manage to incorporate technical, progressive and sometimes avant-garde elements into their songwriting, with each track having a distinctive identity on their own yet complementing each other as a whole cohesive record. This song in particular features 6 guest vocalists, who take command of track's vocals along with the band's main vocalist. 'To the Grave' feels like a classic death/thrash track, while it's follow-up 'Destroying Angel' is a bit more mid-paced and more straight-forward in its delivery, with the track being a feast of fantastic guitar solos.
From here though, everything goes up in intensity as the next track hit you in the face. 'Death-Obsessed' is a great old-school death metal track that could've easily been recorded in the late 80's, with a step-up in speed and overall intensity with perfectly executed leads thrown around. Next, we have 'Opaque Malevolence', the most dissonant, abrassive track of the entire record, with pummeling drums and twisted guitar riffs that may remind you of early Gorguts. 'Conjuring The Necromancer' stays on the opossite side, having marvelous scales and melodies throughout while featuring a brief theremin section and some short choirs for atmosphere. And finally we close with 'Obliterate The Convent', a more straight-forward death metal track than the previous ones, ending with a keyboard fade-out that some may find very familiar...
Music-wise, the band has tackled every corner of the death metal spectrum in here. Whether you like a more classic approach, a more tech-death feat or prefer the dissonant sound, this EP has you covered. Ezra's vocals may be a bit rough and could improve, but he is a very competent guitar player and it is evident that he has improved a lot since his solo project and it complements well with Owen's solos, who is a great player as well and also in charge of the drums. Matt provides backing vocals and bass, and his work is great as well, with his instrument adding that much needed weight on top of the music, while also having its brief shining moments.
Production-wise however, I have some discrepancies. First of all, the guest vocalists could've been better used if shown in different tracks rather than doing a one-off and never return, and some of them are mixed a bit lower than the others making it inconsistent in their presence. Second, the mix is a bit off, with the guitars feeling a bit too "far back" than the rest of the instruments while the vocals have a more of louder and closer sound. Last but not least, it feels to me that the tracks were longer than they should be, the average length being around 5 minutes. The repetitive nature of the tracks makes this more noticeable and (personally) the tracks could've been more compact and still showcase the band's musical abilities without overstretching it for too long.
Overall, it is a great display of prowess and passion for death/thrash metal in all its ways. It may be repetitive at moments and a bit longer than it should (and in need of some improvements), but if you give it a chance you will most than surely enjoy what Begravement has for you.
Rating: 7.7 out of 10749