The story of Necromandus began in North West England, where Bill Branch (vocals), Barry Dunnery (guitarist), Dennis McCarten (bassist) and Frank Hall (drummer) met in the late 1960s. With connections to Black Sabbath, the band were plunged into Birmingham with a record deal. They hoped to release their self-titled debut album in 1973 but a series of unfortunate circumstances led to a withdrawn record deal, a lost guitarist and a forgotten, unpublished album.
The same album was released without the band’s permission in 1996 under the name ‘Orexis of Death.’ By the time the album saw an official reissue in 2010, Barry, Bill and Dennis had all sadly passed away. Now, Frank stands as the lone original, determined to give Necromandus the reincarnation it deserves.
The rebirth honours the history of Necromandus, whilst also allowing space to evolve and embrace the new. As if the world had come full circle, John Branch (Bill’s son) was Frank’s choice for the band’s new vocalist. Recently discovered rehearsal tapes from the mid ’70s allowed Barry’s guitar work to be incorporated into the new album, with Barry’s former co-songwriter John Marcangelo now playing the keyboard. Guitarist Dean Newton and bassist Banjo Cunanan complete Necromandus reincarnated. The newly formed lineup has quickly produced an honourable and memorable album, set to be released on the 21st of July.
The latest self-titled album features ‘Don’t Look down Frank,’ the fresh revival of an original Necromandus track. There’s something captivating about hearing John’s version seamlessly mirror the raspy vocals of his late father. What’s fascinating is his ability to not only belt rock ‘n’ roll, but also sing the hypnotic lyrical lullabies of ‘And She Smiles’ and ‘Hardknott’ with ease.
One thing you’ve got to know when listening to Necromandus is that they’re not influenced by the classics, they are a classic. They’re not taking inspiration from Sabbath or Zeppelin, Frank lived and breathed that era—and that knowledge is not dead! Props to Dean Newton for absolutely killing it in ‘Alauna,’ where he riffed to epic proportions two thirds of the way in. ‘Alauna’ and ‘The Warriors’ can only be described as epic battle cries, with their huge sound and theatrical lyrics.
The theatrics don’t end with the lyrics though. ‘A Hymn to Her’ is a fusion of interstellar synth, churchy organ hums and the ambient noises of waves and seagulls to complete the “palace by the sea” imagery. The largely cruisy tune ‘Gargoyles awake’ stays true to the title, opening with thunderstorms, organs and bell towers. The song ends with a ghoulish chuckle; the kind of chuckle you’d imagine resonating the walls of the eerie castle portrayed in the album artwork.
This album has been a long-awaited breakthrough for Necromandus, and man was it worth waiting for. You nailed it Frank—these songs will certainly remain and be remembered.
Necromandus’ self-titled album will be released on 21st of July.
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