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"Big" John Williams: Vocals
James Malone: Guitars
Justin Wood: Guitars
Ryan Williams: Bass
Jeramie Kling: Drums
If flaccid, identikit, breakdown-laden "metal" is the disease, Necromancing The Stone is the cure. In fact, the quintet will take on any and all comers who dare sully the name of the mightiest of genres with anything less than 100% respect and commitment, and with debut full-length, Jewel Of The Vile, they throw down a formidable gauntlet. Taking a traditionalist approach imbued with flavors of thrash and death metal, every track they stamp their name on is a beast in the truest sense, built on gigantic riffs, pulverizing rhythms and the towering vocals of "Big" John Williams, paying their respects to the likes of Megadeth, Maiden and Anthrax, while creating something that is uniquely Necromancing The Stone. "Call it what you will, or describe our music however you feel is best, but to us it is just heavy metal," states guitarist Justin Wood. "It is riffs and melodies. It is sonic savagery worth banging your head to."
Of course, any band comprised of players who have earned their stripes in outfits such as Arsis (James Malone, guitars), The Absence (Jeramie Kling, drums), The Black Dahlia Murder (Ryan "Bart" Williams, bass, formerly) and Brimstone Coven (guitarist Wood and vocalist Williams) carries some serious weight - though combined they transcend their origins, blending their talents but not the sounds they're known for. Moreover, despite living all over North America and with no "home base" to speak of, their shared passion for heavy metal destined them to gravitate toward each other. "The band doesn't particularly have one home. We are equals living in different cities, so we are 'nationwide,'" comments Wood. While the sheer grandiosity and epic scale of their music suggests they had similarly epic aspirations from the get go, the band in fact started out the way most of the best bands do: metal loving guys getting together to have some fun. "We wanted to make an EP [2014's 'Before The Devil Knows You're Dead'], and things came together so easily and effortlessly, and it picked up a lot of positive attention. Ryan, James, and Jeramie are known in certain circles as 'dudes who have played some really heavy fucking music', so what we put together may have caught some people off guard, but overall the vibe and reaction was great." Buoyed by this response, and aware that they had the material within them to make a killer full-length, they felt a duty to do so. That said, they set out to please no one but themselves, and if they happen to defeat their nemesis, Breakdownicus Gratuitous, along the way, then all the better. "At the end of the day it's just music that we dig, and it's what we feel is a unique version of heavy metal. We like it, and we hope the world does too, but that has not and will not sway our convictions."
Their convictions led to the forging of Jewel Of The Vile, 55 fat-free, exhilarating minutes of metallic fury that stands toe to toe with the genre greats. From the moment the aptly titled "Crusher" rushes from the speakers, Necromancing The Stone own you - its frenetic energy and riffing a rush of pure adrenaline, its chorus triggering the spontaneous throwing of devil horns, and when the leads are let loose it's game over. In fact any time the fingers of the six-stringers are unleashed, the hearts of weaker guitarists are broken, uniformly delivering master classes in the art of shredding. "In approaching the solos, some parts were planned out and a lot of them were a total moment of spontaneity," states Kling. "We really just made sure our guitar tone was solid and nailed the takes, and while they're mostly double tracked, there are parts where both axe men are doing the lord's work!" A couple of the band's good friends were also brought onboard to help out in this department, with Taylor Nordberg (The Absence, Infernaeon) cutting loose on "Ritualistic Demise" and none other than Jeff Loomis (Nevermore, Arch Enemy, etc, etc) letting rip on "The Old One". However, there is much, much more to the record than guitars, and both lyrically and vocally, Williams makes a masterful contribution, immersing the listener in fantastical tales, comparing these to that found in fantasy novels, or in the playing of an intense game of D&D. "There are endless stories that could be written from the fantasy realm, and there are so many characters within this, and we tell stories of these characters and the situations they live through. 'The Sirens Call' is about the mystic beauties of the sea, singing their inescapable songs of lust and calling a man to his watery grave, while 'Rotted Reunion' is about a Necromancer who loses his wife to a horrible murder. It tells the story of how he loved her so, and he uses the skills he's learned over the years to bring her back from the dead. Then there's 'Fall To The Horde', about an army that has fought to protect the walls surrounding their city for many years, fighting the same horde of ogres and orcs that want to take it over - but this is a battle they know will be their last." Such epic narratives require a suitably epic delivery, and in approaching every one of them, Williams would get himself in the right mindset. "In order to feel and project the meaning behind the song, you have to imagine yourself in a certain part of the story, whether it be through the eyes of the Necromancer bringing his wife back from the dead or a fighter watching the mystic forces of his army raising spirits to fight for him." Adding an extra dynamic is the sparing inclusion of gruff death metal vocals, which are employed as characters within the stories - in "Rotted Reunion", it is the voice of the dead wife, while on "From Graves to Infamy" it is used as the screams of the souls fighting to save their land. These growls, however, are not generated by a single larynx. "James, Justin and myself all sing at the same time," explains Kling. "James has a great high, I have a killer low and Justin is right in the middle. The potion is of lethal proportions."
Having signed with Metal Blade Records, Necromancing The Stone are embracing the opportunities before them. Forging ahead in the name of heavy metal, they are intent that a global audience be exposed to the greatness that is Jewel Of The Vile. Always vigilant to the fact that Breakdownicus Gratuitous continues to lurk on the periphery, their commitment is unwavering, and you can be sure that you will be hearing a lot more from them. "In the grand scale of things, the future is uncertain," states Kling. "But as long as there is a future then there will be Necromancing The Stone."