It’s easy to forget just how challenging early extreme metal was back in the 80’s. The sounds of bands like Hellhammer, Sodom, or Repulsion might be taken for granted now, but when they first emerged, they were truly shocking. It’s rare now to come across something that not only captures the sense of musical extremity of those bands, but also the unorthodoxy; the way they did not care for genres or convention, but set out to create something original of their own. New Jersey band Pink Mass manage it though on their new record Necrosexual, a startlingly fearless mixture of early black metal, death, grind, and crust that does not care for genre norms or making the listener comfortable, and is all the better and more dangerous for it. And that’s to say nothing of the way they challenge the non-musical norms of extreme metal. Previous album Slvt Kvlt was good, but this is fantastic.
Usually when people talk about ‘danger’ in a metal context, it’s associated with try-hard edgelords, playing with fascist or otherwise offensive imagery and prejudices from a position of power, where there is no actual danger to those involved in the creation of the music in question. Necrosexual is one of those rare exceptions; it sounds dangerous because it challenges conventions of what this sort of music can be and achieve, whilst also attacking social norms. Song titles like ‘Bestial Sodomizers’ or ‘Crypt Perversor’ may sound like typical black or bestial metal fare, but when taken in context of the album – that also contains songs called ‘Extinction of the Breeders’ and ‘FOAD NSBM’ – it’s clear that Pink Mass aren’t taking the easy targets as so many other so-called “dangerous” bands do; indeed, the band name itself refers to a Satanic ritual which turns a heterosexual spirit in to a homosexual one. Necrosexual isn’t about lording your power over others; it’s about finding your own liberation and freedom, sexually or otherwise, and reveling in the power that brings.
It’s good, then, that Necrosexual is an album charged with wild energy, and a genuine sense of debauchery and filth that many bands aspire to, but few achieve. The music isn’t afraid to draw from whatever source is necessary – as well as Repulsion’s grinding death, there’s strong elements of Venom’s chaotic proto-black metal. But at other points, the melodies can recall the vibrant energy of more mainstream 80’s metal, as on ‘Dismal Tormentor’, and there’s a DIY crust punk feel throughout, thanks to the raw, powerful production. Even if the lyrics are usually unclear, it’s hard not to be swept along by the incredible energy Pink Mass conjure, with regular shifts in focus and tempo – it may be an album that largely races by, but it’s one that’s packed full of different, interesting textures and elements that mean it stays interesting even after the initial rush starts to wear off.
Even though it’s pulling from familiar sources, Necrosexual manages to make music that sounds fresh and genuinely dangerous, challenging not just the norms of wider society but also those of the metal underground, especially those dark corners where fascist ideologies and imagery are taken as par for the course, but ideas such as female equality or welcoming people who identify as LGBTI+ is somehow unacceptable – as the title of ‘FOAD NSBM’ should make clear. For those who feel there is no space for them in underground metal, Necrosexual says otherwise. It is one of the most vital, thrilling, aggressive albums I’ve heard this year, and much like the album cover, it is impossible to ignore. This deserves to be huge.