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Necromandus were a rock band from Cumberland, United Kingdom. They were formed in 1970 and were discovered by Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath in 1972. After recording one album in 1973, they split up. The album was not released until 1999. In 2007 they were mentioned in an article in Classic Rock magazine. Author, Ian Christe, has cited the band as one of the earliest doom metal groups.

In 1968 two West Cumbrian bands, Jug and Heaven, broke up. Members from both bands, Barry "Baz" Dunnery (lead guitar), Dennis McCarten (bass), Frank Hall (drums), and singer Bill Branch, formed a heavy progressive blues outfit they called Hot Spring Water. They were briefly renamed Taurus before settling on Necromandus after a radio show asked their audience for name suggestions. In 1972, after extensive gigging and a failure to release a record, they caught the eye of Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, who
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Orexis of Death & LiveOrexis of Death & Live
Rise Above Relics 2010
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Orexis of Death & Live by NECROMANDUS (2010-03-30)Orexis of Death & Live by NECROMANDUS (2010-03-30)
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NECROMANDUS albums / top albums

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Quicksand Dream
Proto-Metal 1991
.. Album Cover 3.50 | 2 ratings
Orexis of Death plus...
Proto-Metal 1999


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Necromandus Live
Proto-Metal 2005

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NECROMANDUS re-issues & compilations

.. Album Cover 2.00 | 1 ratings
Proto-Metal 2005
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Orexis Of Death & Live
Proto-Metal 2010

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NECROMANDUS Necrothology

Boxset / Compilation · 2005 · Proto-Metal
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After acquiring the "Orexis of Death / Live" release (with the cool album cover of a green and black smoky cloud death figure) I was duly impressed with the music of Necromandus. Once described as Yes plays the hits of Black Sabbath (or was it Black Sabbath plays the hits of Yes?), Necromandus plays complex, guitar-based progressive rock with jazz influences as well as heavier moments that put them also in the category of early doom metal. They were on good terms with Black Sabbath and Tony Iommi agreed to manage the band. They recorded an album and went on tour in Europe, expecting that their album would be released upon their return to the U.K. However, when they got back home they discovered that their manager was on tour in the U.S. and no one was pushing their album at the record company. Discouraged, the band called it quits after many months of waiting for nothing.

Originally, "Orexis of Death" was finally released on vinyl in the '90s and later on CD with two bonus tracks, one of which was a demo for the exciting rocker, "Judy Green Rocket" which never made the album. The live album was released next and then this album, "Necrothology", which combines tracks from both albums and some unreleased tracks, as well as a tribute song. The "Orexis of Death / Live" album combines both albums but with some tracks omitted, most notably "I've Been Evil" from "Orexis" but also a track called simply "Intro". With these two tracks missing from my CD and also an alternate version of the song "Orexis of Death" that has a solo by Tony Iommi and a longer version of the popular proto-metal playlist rocker "Night Jar", I tried to get a hold of "Necrothology".

First, let me reinforce that the music of Necromandus is very high calibre. The likening to a heavy version of Yes is not given in passing. Of course there are no keyboards, but the music compositions and playing are excellent. I have some disappointments with this album and they are as follows.

First of all, the "Intro" track is insubstantial. It's just an air raid siren with a bit of acoustic guitar from the "Mogidismo" instrumental and then the song segues into the live version of "Curly Sea Slug", which never appeared as a studio recording. The song itself features Necromandus at their typical impressive playing but the live recording (as with the "Live" album) is not particularly good with strong tape hiss.

The longer version of "Night Jar" is nothing exceptional. There's no second guitar solo, lost verse, or discarded bridge. Where the album version ends this version just repeats the sequence of arpeggios and power chords twice more before the song concludes in the same way.

The eagerly anticipated missing track "I've Been Evil" is on par with the rest of the band's material and features an eerie instrumental part but the reproduction is poor, and if this track couldn't be cleaned up as well as the others then I can understand why it was left off the "Orexis of Death / Live" compilation. A pity since it's a very good song.

There's a remastered version of "Gypsy Dancer" but I find the "Orexis of Death / Live" release sounds just as good if not a little better. And the Tony Iommi solo version of the song "Orexis of Death" suffers from bad tape hiss and a muddy sound. Someone is playing a different guitar solo but it is soft in the mix and doesn't distinguish itself as a standout performance from the Metal God.

For the quality of the music, Necromandus easily earn four stars if not five. However, I recommend the latest release that combines most of the original album, "Orexis of Death" and the live album, which is not beautiful in recording quality but includes the live version of "Judy Green Rocket", a great song for fans of heavy rock. Because of the inferior sound quality and negligible importance of the missing tracks from the double album, I'd say this is for collectors and fans only. Two stars only because you can get a real good taste of Necromandus on the other album, the one with the cool album cover of a green and black smoky cloud death figure.

NECROMANDUS Orexis Of Death & Live

Boxset / Compilation · 2010 · Proto-Metal
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I’m going to start right off and say what my biggest complaint about this compilation is: not enough music.

Hey, there are 70 minutes of music on this CD but that’s not enough? No. Because, you see, there are tracks missing. The original vinyl release of “Orexis of Death” finally saw the light of day in 1999, 26 years after it was meant to be released (a 1991 version appeared under the name of Quicksand Dream apparently), and this vinyl album had 10 tracks. Later when “Orexis…” was released on CD, two tracks were omitted for whatever reason: “Intro” and “I’ve Been Evil”. Next there came “Orexis of Death Plus” which still omitted the two tracks but added “Judy Green Rocket” in demo and live recording versions. Finally the missing tracks became available on “Necrothology” along with some other previously unreleased tracks which were “Curly Sea Slug (live)”, “Orexis of Death (alternative version featuring Tony Iommi)”, and “Nightjar (extended version)”. When Rise Above Relics decided to reissue “Orexis of Death” along with “Live” on a single CD, they gave us this with about 70 minutes of music but just around 29 minutes of studio recordings only. Surely they could have added “I’ve Been Evil”, a song of 6:20 judging by the version on YouTube and possibly “Intro” as well, no? I would have preferred the complete studio catalogue on one disc and if necessary and second disc of all the live recordings, or just some live recordings added to the studio disc to fill it up.

So, that’s my beef: at least one essential album track is missing. Now what about the music?

As the 40-page booklet (one of the good things about this CD) says, Necromandus might well be described as Black Sabbath sing the greatest hits of Yes. Actually, they don’t often follow the really heavy sound of Black Sabbath though lyrically their themes are not cheery like Yes’ often are. Necromandus prefer to play more complex jazz-rock with shifting rhythms and riffs more like Yes (their debut album often comes to mind) but in songs that are not as long. Fans of proto-metal take note: this band doesn’t pound away like Black Sabbath, Iron Claw, or Pentagram. Their music follows a more complex route most of the time. If you listen to “Nightjar” on YouTube you’ll easily get the impression that these guys really rock out on the heavy guitar. But the other songs mostly jump around between some fast and mildly fuzzed guitar and jazz-influenced riffs and slower, more progressive-sounding structures. The vocals remind me of an older brother version of Ozzy Osbourne at times but again don’t lean too heavily on the Black Sabbath side. The guitar playing is very enjoyable and apparently, when they toured with Yes, Steve Howe was really impressed with the speed and dexterity of Barry Dunnery's playing.

Because the studio tracks take up just under 30 minutes, I felt a little disappointed to hear “Mogidisimo” because the dual acoustic guitar faded out so soon when it sounded like something really good was coming together. “Mogidisimo (reprise)” begins in exactly the same way but carries the piece to nearly a minute and a half before fading out. I think they could have just done this as a two-minute acoustic instrumental instead of teasing with track one and including only the first 32 seconds of the composition.

The live album is not so good with respect to recording quality but it’s better than a lot of contemporary recordings I have heard. There’s a bit of talking to the audience too which is always kind of fun to listen to. I like the introduction to “Nightjar” where vocalist Bill Branch tells the audience to feel free and bash their heads on the tables.

Musically speaking, overall this is very good progressive rock with the odd tendency to venture into proto-metal territory. I’d love to have the missing tracks from the studio album but “Necrothology” is not cheap to buy now and nothing is on iTunes either.

I recommend this album to those who enjoy 70’s rock with some jazz, some proto-metal, and lots of prog blended together. The album artwork and the CD booklet are great, too!

NECROMANDUS Orexis of Death plus...

Album · 1999 · Proto-Metal
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Don't be fooled the album cover and the title. If you're expecting a slab heavy, doom laden, riff-tearing Sabbath-esque assault, you're not going to find it here. If that's what you're searching for, check out Supernaut's self-titled debut from 1973 or First Daze Here from Pentagram. Orexis Of Death is more in line of hard progressive rock/heavy prog though it does exude a medieval ambience at times. Closer to the early incarnations of Wishbone Ash and Jade Warrior or even Black Widow, and obvious influences from King Crimson and yes, even Yes. With all that being said, this is an excellent album. I would tend to tag it more a heavy prog album than proto-metal.

Back in the "old days", relatively speaking, the '80's to be more precise when I was in full blown addiction of collecting vinyl there was many myths and legends attaining to rare, obscure, limited pressings and even unreleased recordings from the sub-genre of proto-metal that were rightly or wrongly attributed without much merit. Rumours would be a better word to use as these much hyped lost gems were unwarranted on many occassians and for the most part there was reasons why: bad production and sound quality, finicial backing, label promotion, weak material, etc., and in some cases the circumstances were unfortunate, this album being a perfect example.

The band was managed by Sabbath guitarist, Tony Iommi and Necromandus had laid down the tracks, but in 1973, Sabbath was huge and very busy, thus Iommi had kept putting off the final steps to get the record off the shelf and then guitarist Brian Dunnery announced he was leaving the band and Iommi axed the single and album slated for release as he believed the band didn't have it without Dunnery.

Fast forward to 1999 and finally the music was released. I heard this from the guys at my local vinyl shop and put in my order for the album. Some six weeks later the LP had arrived from the U.K. Man I was surprised. This wasn't was I was expecting. I wasn't really dissappointed, more surprised than anything. Damn, this is really good progressive rock and the production and sound quality just magnificant for 1973, especially for an album that was "shelved". The album was released again in 2005 as, "Oxeris Of Death plus..." that was remastered with a couple of bonus tracks. Now, I don't know if this was the case for the first issue, referring to being remastered. Anyways, it really doesn't matter. It's terrific.

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