Despite being the first time I’ve crossed their path, Manchester’s black/death metal outfit Necronautical is far from being a newcomer to the party. Having been plying their dark-hearted trade in various guises since their inception in 2010, the band have just dropped their fourth offering, Slain In The Spirit, and a more immaculate display of black metal soaked brutality I’ve yet to hear.

Having caught the early part of their set at Bloodstock Open Air last week, I was already anticipating what was to come from the Manchester band but nothing can prepare you for the epic onslaught that is opener “Ritual & Recursion.” A haunting explosion of symphonic-drenched fury, this tone-setter for the rest of the record really puts you in the mood for an exquisite listen. Through “Occult Ecstatic Indoctrination” and the title track, there isn’t a moment where this group sets foot out of line. Majestic symphonies dual with swathes of soaring operatic vocals all wrapped around the main course of twisted blackened death metal. Think Dimmu Borgir. Think Emperor. Think Behemoth. A masterclass in dark metal, brutal at the core but with a haunting, creepy undercurrent throughout.

“Pure Consciousness Event” starts with a darker than dark intro before hurtling seamlessly into a truly bone-breaking death/black metal onslaught. A seven-minute masterpiece, the Manchester band still manages to turn it up on a notch as they follow it up with the unholy “Necropsychonautics.” Then, as if things couldn’t get any better, Necronautical rip through a ferocious cover of Slayer’s “Disciple” to wrap up this hellish soundtrack. A neck-wrecking classic from the LA thrash titans’ back catalogue, there is something suitably disturbing about how Necronautical’s haunting symphonies seep through this metal classic making this the perfect cherry on top of this utterly stunning album.

Slain In The Spirit Track Listing:

1. Ritual & Recursion
2. Occult Ecstatic Indoctrination
3. Slain In The Spirit
4. Hypnagogia
5. Pure Consciousness Event
6. Necropsychonautics
7. Contorting In Perpetuity
8. Death Magick Triumphant
9. Disciple

Run Time: 51:09
Release Date: August 20, 2021
Record Label: Candlelight Records

I have an unhealthy obsession with bad horror movies, the song Wanted Dead Or Alive and crap British game shows. I do this not because of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle it affords me but more because it gives me an excuse to listen to bands that sound like hippos mating.