|"That whole old-school death-metal tag doesn't mean anything to me. We're not one of these Entombed wannabes who just copy their elders. Then again, if playing music the way you feel it should be played ignoring what's trendy or commercially viable, then I guess you can call us old-school. But if you ask me, we just play death metal, putrid death metal if you will." If there's one thing you can't blame NECROWRETCH guitarist, vocalist and mastermind Vlad for, it's his not-so-mild take on music. But the man knows exactly what he wants and he refuses to let anything come in between his vision and him. And that was true from the start. While most teenagers pick up a guitar to impress girls and get recognition, Vlad did so for one reason and one reason only: emulating Death's immortal debut 'Scream Bloody Gore'. "I first started to listen to metal with Iron Maiden when I was seven thanks to my big brother. But around twelve, I found 'Painkiller' in his CD collection and I remember thinking I had never heard something so fast and so full of energy. So soon enough, I was going for the most extreme bands I could find out there and soon discovered black metal. But the first time I heard Death's debut album, it just blew me away and since that day, I've been obsessed with it. And from day one, I knew that if I'll pick up a guitar, it was to do gigs, meet other people sharing the same spirit and, one day, come up with my own 'Scream Bloody Gore'."
With such high goal in mind, he settled on not wasting a single minute. So less than six months after he first picked up the instrument, he was recording his first originals on his computer and started looking for a proper drummer. Together, they first recorded a debut demo called 'Rising From Purulence' in January 2009. Two months later, the duo was playing their first show at the rehearsal room in front of a few friends. Among the guests was bass player Amphycion who was so impressed by their "bestial performance" that he immediately offered his service. Now a trio, they started gigging more frequently and set out to record a new demo in July 2009.
Back then they began to realize that worldwide youngsters like them were taking death metal back to its natural habit and origins. Yet, Vlad admits he started to be "aware of a handful of bands in the same vein in France like Herpes or Affliction Gate" through his international contacts who developed after having NECROWRETCH's demos out on tape via Belgium's Detest Records. Suddenly, Vlad noticed bands like Sweden's Repuked, Putrid and Morbus Chron and understood rather late that there was actually a return of death metal - the ancient way. But don't you accuse him of jumping on the bandwagon: "Well, I lived in a very small town in the south of France, far away from any kind of scene so I had no clue there would soon be a resurgence of the 'real' death metal of yore. My reason for going for this kind of music was first and foremost because of 'Scream Bloody Gore' as that record had opened a whole new dimension for me. It was also a reaction on all these modern bands that were popping up like crazy back then, with triggered drums and pro-tools effects that did nothing for me. And it drove me mad to see all these young fans going nuts for these bands while having no clue about the genre's forefathers. Besides, I have to admit I just hate being part of the norm and thus decided to follow my own path instead."
With the invitation to play the 2010 edition of the Killtown Deathfest in Copenhagen serving as an eye-opener ("we knew everybody else there through trading or networking and it felt like one big family. And the fact that we had been invited despite the fact we only had two demos out proved that some people believed in NECROWRETCH and we'd better take this one step further"), the band decided to work twice as hard while at the same time sticking to the underground ethos by releasing a MLP ('Putrefactive Infestation') and then an EP ('Now You're In Hell') through Detest Records. On vinyl only, of corpse, "as that's the way it should be at this point of our career, that's how it worked for Death in the late 80's." Little did he know that soon enough their uncompromising attitude would pay off…
Accompanied by drummer Desecrator (Perversifier), NECROWRETCH then opened up the 'Deathhammer' release party of soon-to-be label mates Asphyx in March 2012 in Essen, Germany, performing a raging and vicious show and Century Media Records, being aware of the band before, subsequently offered them a worldwide deal. Upon signing them, Jens Prueter, head of A&R at Century Media Europe explained: "It already surprised the metal scene that we signed the, back then, rather unknown band Sonne Adam from Israel. And I can just repeat myself: it's about the unique quality and we have a history signing death metal newcomers. Bands like Grave, Morgoth and Asphyx had just a couple of demos out before we signed them over 20 years ago. Let's continue with the next generation and welcome NECROWRETCH! The 'Putrefactive Infestation' 12" dominated my turntable for some months and I'm sure the upcoming album will be as sick and heavy! Bands like Massacra, Aggressor or Mercyless can be proud that NECROWRETCH is carrying on the torch of French Death Metal."
The first result of this partnership made in hell is 'Putrid Death Sorcery', an album that has little to do with most of the retro-deathsters that are plaguing the scene as we speak. The opus was recorded in Brussels during Summer 2012 in not more than ten days by Phorgath from Enthroned. Adorned with a fitting artwork by Milovan Novakovic who has been working with the band since their first demo and containing eleven tracks (nine new ones and two re-recorded old demo tracks), 'Putrid Death Sorcery' is the result of eighteen months of intense song-writing. Featuring session drummer Mörkk, who also plays in black metallers Aldaaron and heavy metal act Sanctuaire alongside Amphycion, it represents the proverbial next step for NECROWRETCH and will be released almost day to day with the band's formation five years ago: "This album is dedicated not only to those who've been following us from the beginning and are into 'real' death metal but also to some black metal fans. Unlike our first recordings, I feel that we don't sound like Autopsy or Nihilist anymore but actually came up with an evil and sick sound of our own that is hard to pigeonhole. There's a bit of Merciless and Grotesque in our music as well as hints to that madness you can find in some of the South American bands whereas the opening track even owns some debts to Marduk! Altogether, this makes us NECROWRETCH."
Not exactly what you would call a concept-album, 'Putrid Death Sorcery' has nevertheless a red line going through it, as fucked-up as it sounds: "the album's lyrics don't read like a King Diamond album with a plot and different characters but still they all take place in some kind of distorted reality where a former priest - called 'the necrowretch' or 'the priest of doom' - travels around perverting souls instead of saving them."
Already scheduled to play the Deathkult festival in Leipzig next May and having given up their day-jobs to fully concentrate on the band, Vlad and Amphycion plus drummer Desecrator are ready to destroy stages as much as possible. So beware, 'Putrid Death Sorcery' is just the beginning…
Olivier "Zoltar" Badin (November 2012)