By Sarah Kitteringham
EDMONTON – On a humid night in July of 2016, Edmonton’s malevolent black death act Dire Omen came to Calgary, performing on a bill with the legendary Rites of Thy Degringolade, Vaalt, and the newly formed Cultist. (Full disclosure: the author of this piece booked that bill). After the performance, DO guitarist T.G. sheepishly pushed a rather rudimentary demo into our hands, requesting we check it out “if you want.”
Containing three very raw extreme thrash tracks, Demo 2016 was a strong indicator that Phylactery had rock solid foundations. Dubbed after an amulet or charm that is worn for its supernatural powers, the band remained largely silent until they were announced for Vancouver’s taste-making Covenant Festival, performing alongside Revenge, Bölzer, and Blood Incantation. It was also announced that Dark Descent sub-label Unspeakable Axe Records (responsible for releases by Besieged, Encyrcle, Infiltrator, Nucleus, and Sabbatory), had picked them up. Clearly, we weren’t the only ones impressed by the blazing guitars, anguished shrieks, and rudimentary sound.
The amateurism is no longer present on the full-length, Necromancy Enthroned. Indeed, it sounds like the band spent most of the last year jamming repeatedly, resulting in a cohesive blend of death thrash that far supersedes the demo. Conceptually, the album is unified, casting morbid tales of necromancy and lich (undead creatures popularized by fantasy fiction).
“I think there are two aspects to the lyrical choices made on the record, the aesthetic side and the conceptual side. Speaking aesthetically, I grew up playing and pouring over the rulebooks for Dungeons and Dragons and other similar games, so I have a strong connection to the tropes and characters of that type of fantasy,” explains drummer and vocalist K.T., also of Dire Omen. He and T.G. are joined by on the record by bassist J.M., also of Edmonton brutal death metal act Display of Decay.
“You combine that with metal, which has had morbid imagery from day one, and the obvious result is talking about the undead,” furthers K.T.
“This also fits us on a conceptual level because we are a band that very deliberately attempts to skew our sound and influences towards an old-school style. It seems only fitting that the lyrics on an album trying to revive a past era of death thrash is focused on coming back from the dead.”
Reminiscent of classic American death thrash like Morbid Saint and Demolition Hammer, the record also conjures up comparisons to Calgary’s own BLACKRAT with its reliance on a spooky ambiance and frequent feedback.
“If we’ve done our job right then that act of necromancy, of bringing that sound back to life, should be enthroned as something new and our own. Hence the name.”
Speaking further to the cohesion, the album artwork was created by celebrated Italian painter Paolo Girardi. Recently, you’ve seen his work on offerings by Temple of Void, Manilla Road, Vastum, Inquisition and many more.
“The album is a narrative running across all 11 songs and the piece which Paolo Girardi did for us shows the two main characters of the story,” offers K.T.
“On the cover is the main antagonist, this half bug, half goat creature known as the Plaguelord, with the Lich character on the opposite side… The Plaguelord character came to me in a dream while on tour and by the end of the day everything about the story fell into place.”
He finishes, “Because this album is a story about hubris and conflict, it made sense to have the antagonist on the cover. So rather than it being a conceptual piece of art it is more of an emblematic piece of art for the narrative we’re trying to tell.”
And the result of all this is?
Necromancy Enthroned is one of the strongest offerings emerging from Alberta in 2017.
Phylactery’s full-length debut Necromancy Enthroned comes out on August 18 via Unspeakable Axe Records.Besieged, Cultist, Dire Omen, Encyrcle, Infiltrator, Necromancy Enthroned, Nucleus, Phylactery, Rites of Thy Degringolade, Sabbatory, Unspeakable Axe Records, Vaalt