NECROMANDUS
Hard Rock • United Kingdom

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Necromandus were a heavy psych/hard 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
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Orexis of Death & LiveOrexis of Death & Live
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Rise Above Relics 2010
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LiveLive
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NECROMANDUS Discography

NECROMANDUS albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Quicksand Dream
Hard Rock 1991
.. Album Cover 3.50 | 2 ratings
Orexis of Death plus...
Hard Rock 1999
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
Necromandus
Hard Rock 2017

NECROMANDUS EPs & splits

NECROMANDUS live albums

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Necromandus Live
Hard Rock 2005

NECROMANDUS demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

NECROMANDUS re-issues & compilations

.. Album Cover 2.00 | 1 ratings
Necrothology
Hard Rock 2005
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Orexis Of Death & Live
Hard Rock 2010

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NECROMANDUS Reviews

NECROMANDUS Necromandus

Album · 2017 · Hard Rock
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adg211288
Although it's become somewhat prevalent for bands of the seventies and eighties who never really made it while they were young to make a comeback years down the line, one group that it probably wouldn't have been expected of is UK hard rockers Necromandus. After all, most of the band's original line-up is now deceased, with only drummer Frank Hall still around. Necromandus were only active between 1970 and 1973 and the lone album they recorded was released posthumously in various forms, originally without the band's permission or even knowledge until after the event. Hall has been quoted as being 'staggered' to discover the recordings on the market (having been told by his mother) and being 'happy and annoyed at the same time'.

It probably shouldn't have been that way. In the early seventies hard rock/heavy metal scene they had just about the best endorsement that a band could get having been taken under the wing of none other than Tony Iommi, who managed them and had them open for Black Sabbath, but things were not meant to be. Guitarist Barry Dunnery quit the band in 1973, which resulted in a rapid downward spiral that saw record label Vertigo drop them and the debut album shelved.

Revived in 2016 by Frank Hall with the aim to record a new album based off of the old material from the seventies, the new Necromandus line-up was born, including the son of late vocalist Bill Branch, John Branch, filling his father's role in the band. Necromandus (2017) is the result of their labours. At least some songs will be familiar to those who heard one of the various versions of the original debut, even if the titles aren't: opener Don't Look Down Frank was Nightjar on those releases (Don't Look Down Frank being the actual title that would have been used had the album been released in the seventies, apparently).

Though newly recorded, the music on Necromandus remains faithful to the seventies style of hard rock and even in some places actual heavy metal, often with a progressive twist. Despite the ties to Iommi and Black Sabbath back in the seventies I'm reminded more of Budgie during the heavier and more metallic parts of the album. The guitar riffs have an excellent sound with plenty of bite, though there are also plenty of softer and melodic parts. There are also heavy psych elements to be found, especially in the parts of the album where the keyboards are more prominent. They never actually had a keyboardist back during their original career, this new line-up being a five-piece rather than a four, but they certainly fit in well and offer up additional variety in the album, of which there is plenty of to begin with: the songs have no issue with individual identity.

The songs themselves are both hard rocking and catchy, with Hymn To Her, The Warriors and the closer And She Smiles in particular sticking in my head for ages after the event, while other highlights are the opening duo of Don't Look Down Frank and Alauna. The vocals from John Branch are crystal clear and his voice is very similar to his father's from what I've heard of older Necromandus recordings. It definitely feels right that he is singing on this record and not someone else and in fact this album is in itself a fitting tribute by Frank Hall to his original bandmates. It's like both the album that should have been finally seeing the light of day (despite those various versions of the original debut) and the beginning of a new chapter. It remains to be seen of course whether this will go down as one last hurrah for the Necromandus name or if, like others before them such as eighties NWoBHM act Hell, they'll continue to produce new material. I hope so, because this one is a keeper.

NECROMANDUS Necrothology

Boxset / Compilation · 2005 · Hard Rock
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voila_la_scorie
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 · Hard Rock
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voila_la_scorie
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 · Hard Rock
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cannon
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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