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.