Necromandus could have been a massive force in prog metal. They could have even been the band cited as creating the sub genre. Unfortunately, they never got to prove any of that. Back in 1972, the band had the great Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath ready to produce their debut album. He was a major supporter of the band which got them signed to Vertigo Records. However, the wheels came off right away.
Guitarist Barry Dunnery (former It Bites guitarist Francis Dunnery’s older brother) left the band right before their first tour. Iommi felt this was a fatal blow to the band and so did Vertigo Records who dropped the band before the album (which was produced by Iommi) could be released. At the time the band were called a mix of Sabbath and Yes which is about as prog metal as one could be at the time. That album didn’t get issued til 20 years after the fact.
Sadly, three quarters of Necromandus (including Dunnery) are no longer alive and did not see the release of that album. Now the lone member of that band, drummer Frank Hall, put together a new lineup. One key member is former singer Bill Branch’s son, John who yes sounds a lot like his father. This self titled album is definitely a case of what might’ve been. It sounds like a mix of bands like Yes, Sabbath, Wishbone Ash, Captain Beyond and even modern bands like The Sword which shows you the impact that Necromandus could have had had they not evaporated back then.
The album kicks off with the progressive boogie of “Don’t Look Down Frank” which shows that Necromandus mean business. The song is a true ass kicker and is both retro and fresh at the same time. “Alauna” has the vibe of a lost Sword track. One of my favorite track is “Limpert Man” because the vibe is so fucking FM radio from the 70s which is what I grew up on. And yes it rocks but it also has a cool groove to it.
The beautiful “Hymn to Her” shows another side of the band with vintage synths and an off kilter guitar riff. The instrumental “Gargoyles Awake” is another favorite of mine. It’s quite jazzy and has a bit of Dixie Dregs in it. The one track that I find perhaps a little cheesy is “The Warriors” because both the lyrics and main riff are a tad predictable. The problem is, the song is so damn catchy that I actually LIKE IT! The album ends on another high note with the gorgeous and powerful “And She Smiles” which highlights the great things that Necromandus can do. I love it!
This is one of those albums that legitimately makes me smile. It’s a fun album with LOTS of great riffs, enough twists and turns to keep you guessing and, most importantly, a back story which makes it all hit home. I am so glad that Frank put together a new lineup. Even if they don’t record another note, this Necromandus has completed the story for the original band. What might have been is now what has HAPPENED and that is so awesome.
1. Don’t Look Down Frank
3. Limpet Man
4. Hymn to Her
5. I’ve Been Evil
6. Gargoyles Awake
9. The Warriors
11. And She Smiles