Sometime prior to the summer months of 2015, Dutch black metal twosome Necromantic Worship mailed the Spirit of the Entrance unto Death demo to Yosuke Konishi, owner of the ever-influential Nuclear War Now! Productions, and in true NWN fashion, he reissued it “as is” in its raw demo form. Less than a year later, Konishi released their second and slightly more involved demo tape, The Calling… It only took a few short months for the duo—Xarangorth and Ghûllzaraën—to have listeners abuzz with interest in the infant project.
However, on May 21, 2016, Ghûllzaraën posted on the Nuclear War Now! forum:
“After twenty-one years of dedication, creativity, and worship, I have decided to step out of the black metal scene to fully focus my attention on the Occult. It has been an amazing journey evolving from a teenage boy, with a guitar and a dream, into the man I am today with quite a few physically manifested dreams under my belt.”
The farewell was posted just two months after the official release of The Calling... Ghûllzaraën adds that he’s shared the stage with “greats,” but was it under a different name? Another demo and fans may have learned Ghûllzaraën’s actual identity. Yet, for all the individual pomp, Necromantic Worship were first and foremost a simple but effective duo.
The Calling… credits Zagan as lead guitarist; yes, that is the same Zagan from Rotterdam’s staid Countess and all those “horned one” albums. Adam Wilgosh, or Dæmonomancer of Canada’s Goathammer—a black/death metal Satanic goat-worshiping group—also joined their ranks as drummer, effectively rounding out their session musician lineup. With these new musicians in tow, one can only assume that the duo buckled down and started writing stronger songs that were intended to take them well beyond these humble demo days.
In an interview with Hombre Rancio, Ghûllzaraën cited Athens’ diabolic black metal duo, Necromantia, like he’d worn out the ribbons on the cassette: “Necromantia! Everything they did up to Crossing the Fiery Path is pure gold! There is nothing like it!”. His pithy appreciation invoked both Necromantia’s sonic atmosphere and preference for bass over the guitar as the central instrument. He also notes Rotting Christ, Varathron, and Thou Art Lord—all important members of the Hellenic black metal pantheon who have a gift for composition.
First, Ghûllzaraën and Xarangorth allowed themselves long recitations. Intros and songs slanted towards the cultic in the style of Equimanthorn—Absu’s foray into the esoteric end of dark ambient. Necromantic Worship’s “Conjuration of the Fire God” relies on mock organ and synthesizer to create an air of ominous peril. Ghûllzaraën rasps invocations towards a number of deities, and when the track is almost exhausted, Xarangorth arrives to lay out an evil procession. The gradual musicality segues intriguingly, growing ever more sensational. At best, its gaudy solemnity sounds like the tipping point for most supernatural horror films and literature, which brings us to Lovecraft‘s clear influence over the duo. Spirit of the Entrance Unto Death was lifted from the Necronomicon—that bounty of fake prayers, the ultimate grimoire. Heavy metal is, of course, no stranger to Lovecraft, often appropriating his otherworldly entities as we have covered extensively before.
Musically, Necromantic Worship hardly tampers with the tried-and-true orthodox black metal formula. After the long invocation, “Nergal, the Raging King” is a rollicking waltz. As the demo goes, Ghûllzaraën’s vocals settle further into whisper. After another bout of prayer, “The Dark Young Shub Niggurath” showcases what nearly sounds like a different band. Therein lies Necromantic Worship’s true intent: While maintaining their (admittedly pompous) spirituality, Ghûllzaraën and Xarangorth take after Cultes Des Ghoules’ will to thrash and invite their audience to partake in the eldest ritual of metal—banging your fucking head.
The Calling… is the creation of a larger rock band, which is all too evident through the first song, “The Scarlet Whore.” Their tremolo flourishes are bombastic, melodious, and rip between King Diamond’s Abigail and Rotting Christ’s Non Serviam. Dæmonomancer dashes Xarangorth’s lo-fi blast-beats with one man’s orchestral percussion, yet the original pair are still the brick and mortar of the project, combining bass, keyboards, and segueing intonations at once during “The Scarlet Whore.” The song opens the album, and is by far its best. Yet, Necromantic Worship approaches the “whore” whispering tepid misogyny. “The Scarlet Whore” is a sinful object, a reproductive conduit that they play with. For example, “Take unto thee now this flesh made lance of power… In union we stand to serve and open the gates of hell.” In this new lyricism, their attempt at eroticism is almost embarrassing.
“Faceless Gods” sticks out because Necromantic Worship were too late to cover Necromantia. As much as the Greeks are an inspiration, The Calling… moved past the original’s primitivism. It makes The Calling… lopsided with titillating riffage that musically succeeds while the two remaining tracks—“Of Great Nga’ryeth” (albeit more focused) and “Faceless Gods” (like a long outro that belongs on the first demo)—lack balance, which is the greatest blight to Spirit of the Entrance Unto Death and The Calling... The listener is presented with a series of ideas that were best left as simple improvisations.
Could they have been better? One must remember that Spirit of the Entrance Unto Death and The Calling… are demos intended to demonstrate Necromantic Worship’s abilities. Criticism must be dulled because the lion’s share of what Necromantic Worship released during their partnership showed promise. Clearly, at least there was enough promise present in both tapes to entice Nuclear War Now! And for good reason, as black metal needs occultism like a winter walk, a breath of fresh air, and Necromantic Worship were another short rasp in a genre that is ultimately suffocating.
 Hombre Rancio Underground Metal
Spirit of the Entrance unto Death:
A1) Nergal, the Raging King
A2) Conjuration of the Fire God
B1) The Dark Young of Shub Niggurath
A1) The Scarlet Whore
A3) Of Great Nga’ryeth
A4) The Calling…
A5) Faceless Gods (Necromantia Cover)
*Tracks Repeat on Side B