Tired of other dystopian tales, Necropanther wove their own with Oblivion Jones, a veritable compendium of metal’s different extremes

Release date: May 3, 2024 | Independent | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Bandcamp

While I was still kicking myself for neglecting to review Necropanther‘s newest LP from last year, a thrashed-up take on the story of The Warriors which we premiered a video for, they already announced a new EP. Why am I surprised? They’re a wonderfully prolific band and have been growing upward the whole time since I discovered them with 2019’s The Doomed City. Things, fortunately, have not changed at all with this new project.

Though the Denver group love to metalify established cult classic stories like the aforementioned 1979 film (or the 1965 novel of the same name), Logan’s Run, or Dune, it’s an original story that grips the thematic recesses of Oblivion Jones: A Tale Of False Consciousness. It follows Oblivion Jones, a fictional painter from Baltimore loosely affiliated with the Beats and working in Denver to create a magnum opus of sorts when he is killed only to be reborn as a cybernetic replicant who attends an exhibition of his art in the near future. What’s more is the band threw another conceptual wrench into it all by channeling one specific, different subgenre of metal with each of the EP’s four songs to create a varied, moody piece to match the story.

“The Denver School” is familiar and comforting, utilizing the band’s thrashy idiosyncrasies and momentum to create one of the coolest metal tracks I’ve heard all year. Seriously, this quick bastard dropped last month as the lead single and I must’ve looped it five or six times. In addition to the core members, joining Necropanther for this EP is jazz musician Rico Jones on tenor saxophone and I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. His sax really elevates the track (and EP as a whole) with wonderfully rich textures and a facet of musicianship the band had yet to encompass. Not to be outdone on their own track though, the quartet put in work to fully flesh out this song with wildly catchy riffs and robust drumming that sets the stage for a dystopian play to unfold. Absolutely love the melody used throughout the track. Goddamn, this is good.

“The Transported Man” is a pinnacle moment for both the story and Necropanther. Oblivion Jones dies (spoiler?) and the band saw fit to put on their doom metal cloaks and get cracking on a eulogy. It’s a phenomenally realized piece that evokes Candlemass much more than Bell Witch of course. I’ve never heard the band this slow for this long, around a third of their usual speed, and it really pulls the details out of their instrumentation for you to digest. Everything’s here though – great riffs, foreboding darkness and violence, and a dash of atmo you’re usually not afforded with thrash metal since it’s more about sonic oppression. And hey, we still get awesome leads and solos from both guitarists Joe Johnson and Paul Anop (who also does vocals). If you like classically-styled doom, this is a hit.

Rico Jones sessions with guitarist Joe Johnson

“First Friday” is a first-class ticket to melodeath city and it works out pretty well! Melodeath and thrash have a lot of common threads so it sounds more like your usual Necropanther songs than the others do. There’s a sense of accomplishment and even wonder in this track’s tone. Drums from Haakon Sjogren are fun and fill-heavy, and Marcus Corich’s bass is a highlight both here and the next track. Jones’ sax boldly returns with a lovely segment toward the end where the rest of the instrumentation fizzles out to an eerie calm, as if embodying the new ‘life’ Oblivion Jones has and him realizing it. Finishing the EP off is “Thrash Till Death” which, despite its name, is a NWOBHM-centered song. With screechy guitar leads and a nice groove to the rhythm, it’s practically straight out the DeLorean having just arrived from the ’80s. It’s a bit more playful than the rest adorned with more showmanship and melodic eccentrics than usual. Love how it ends too – just a fucking barnburner of a track.

Though Oblivion Jones has his fate eternally sealed by the hubris of man’s creation of simulacra, at least in our reality we reap a very different sowed creation with Necropanther. I’ve never known them to disappoint and while their more metered refinement over the years has been great to watch, this EP shows where the band could go on a whim or with a grand plan in mind. I have no expectations necessarily – I only expect it to be a worthwhile journey as all their work has been so far.

Necropanther are quickly becoming a gem of Denver for me. So much good heavy music has emerged in the last several years from here, so much of it different from their peers, and then there’s bands like this who can wear many hats and masks to great effect, not to act as a facsimile or banal imitation, but to pay homage and challenge themselves creatively. I’m really impressed by this EP and it excites me for what’s in the future for them, and by proxy for us as fans. Hell yeah. 🙂

David Rodriguez

David Rodriguez

"I came up and so could you, and fuck the boys in blue" - RMR

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