Nekrogoblikon- Heavy Meta (2015)
Melodic Death Metal/Progressive Metal
Los Angeles-based act Nekrogoblikon is an anomaly. They just released their third full-length album, entitled Heavy Meta, and that should give you an idea of their mindset towards making music. That and the name, of course. Some death metal bands just don’t understand how bizarrely funny it is to have such blatantly gory and offensive lyrics when delivered with full earnestness, but not so with Nekrogoblikon. This band knows exactly how funny they are. The entirety of their music revolves around one thing- goblins…obviously.
Heavy Meta is a death metal album primarily. It’s a concept album about the origins of a race of spacefaring alien goblins who are cursed with immortality and wish to rid themselves of it. Think Captain Barbosa’s crew but without the doubloons and more suicidal apathy. It’s all done tongue-in-cheek, though, never getting too serious, though the goblins disdain for life is readily apparent. They’ve experienced it all, so they think, and thus enter a black hole hoping to finally die. But wait, it sends them to Earth instead! Oh no! Look at all the decadence…what to do?
Why, fuck things up, of course! The lyrics, though they follow a clear path of the saga of alien goblins, take the time to mock the culture of American excess and hollowness. By using the goblins, the band has formed a humorous proxy by which to inject their music with the right amount of nihilism. Speaking of the goblins themselves, the band is VERY independent and it’s pretty difficult to pin down who the members are. My research is spotty since the band’s official bandcamp page looks to be out-of-date, and the most info I found plays along with their gimmick and refers to bandmates by their codenames anyway- Scorpion on vocals, Goldberg and Diamond on guitar, Raptor on keys, Fingers on bass, and Bready on drums. Oh, and there’s also John Goblikon, the band’s mascot, who I’m assuming is like Eddie the Head or that giant metal monster that comes out when Tenacious D plays “The Metal.” He’s one of the quote-unquote space goblins, and can be seen in the band’s music videos. Their video for “No One Survives” off their first album, Stench, went viral, by the way. I highly recommend all their music videos. They’ve got a bit of a GWAR vibe going on, but their musical style is pretty different.
Though it’s melodic death metal, primarily using piercing shrieks rather than guttural growls, the band imbues it with progressive and symphonic elements as well. It reminds me of the technical proficiency of Canadian prog-metal wizards Protest the Hero while also reminding me of death metal gods Children of Bodom in how they deftly mix extreme metal with other elements to produce infinitely listenable tracks. It’s organized chaos, with as many classic 70s-inspired prog-rock synth riffs, classic rock inspired piano, and atmospheric backing choirs as there are brutal face-melting solos. The skill of the musicianship is really on display here, with the band even drawing from folk and electronic influences from time to time. “End of Infinity” and “We Need a Gimmick” are the standout tracks. Of course, if you don’t like wacky parodies of metal and think this whole things sounds like a lame gimmick…it is. But that misses the point- extreme subgenres of heavy metal often times delve into incredibly mockable areas of “how could you possibly take this seriously?” I’d much, much rather listen to this than something so obviously tryhard as Cattle Decapitation, Cannibal Corpse, or Necrophagist. Sometimes too much is too much, and the “brutality” overcomes, you know, making something memorable.
I can see where some hardcore metalheads might see this band as being a one-off joke that openly mocks their hallowed genre, and thus deserves no attention. But for people who take their love of metal with a self-aware grain of salt, this band is a welcome addition to comedy metal and death metal as a whole. The band even features Andrew W.K. in the track “Let’s Get Fucked” once the goblins decide to party it up on earth. I have to say, the song diversity isn’t great considering the lack of different vocal techniques and adherence to a certain approach, but it works. Also, it’s a pretty short album at only 35 minutes. I wish it had a few more tracks or used a greater vocal range, but those are pretty minor complaints. They haven’t run the course of the joke yet, so while it lasts, enjoy it.