After Death – Retronomicon

after_death-retronomiconRetronomicon compiles the demos and EP of After Death, the band Mike Browning formed as a replacement for Nocturnus as Nocturnus A.D., and then renamed to avoid confusion with the other version of Nocturnus that resurrected itself briefly in the 2000s.

While the roots of After Death are in death metal, the majority of this music is epic heavy metal or what would be called power metal at this point. It uses heavy metal riffs, has a melodic sense similar to that of later Budgie, and has a theatrical atmosphere like more recent Therion.

Most importantly, the rhythms and the way riffs fit together are not in the death metal style, but sort of like a “dinner theatre” version of heavy metal. These riffs are closer to leitmotifs than motifs, meaning that they reflect characters or themes of a developing drama directly, rather than conveying changes in overall mood as they do in regular death metal. Add to this groove and bouncy rhythms and what comes out is radio-friendly heavy metal with some death riffs and an occult vibe.

Retronomicon features odd vocals of wide-ranging sounds, some seemingly demonic processed voices, others like children or wailing women, and some in the death growl. This and the tendency to make very theatrical combinations of riffs give this music an otherworldly feel. Add to that the active keyboards that highlight riffs and also provide contrary motions and textures, and the result is the kind of subversively imaginative and esoteric musical pathway that Marilyn Manson and others could barely dream of.

It’s unfortunate radio metal did not go in this way rather than the more mundane ways that it did, but if After Death want to go mainstream, they’ll have to be a bit more consistently intense and emotional. People like simple because they’re generally distracted when listening. This music may be a bit beyond most because it requires an attention span, but it’s strikingly beautiful and multifaceted. The Nocturnus influence can clearly be heard in temp changes and the decision points before the conclusions of songs.

This will not be for everyone. Most death metal fans will be turned off by the aesthetics; Marilyn Manson, Rammstein, Ministry, Therion, et al. fans may be turned off by how rough and ambiguous much of this is. However, both groups should attend to this interesting musical pathway that could well be the most subversive and occult thing ever to visit radio.

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12 thoughts on “After Death – Retronomicon”

  1. Antonio Espinosa says:

    I’d never heard of this, and I really dig it! Keep unearthing cool shit like this.

  2. The Lord says:

    I bought this album based on the label Iron Pegasus records without really knowing what it was at the MDF in 2010. Oddest thing was the guitar player Demian was standing right next to me talking about this band when I had it in hand. I probably looked at him with a dumb look then moved on. There’s a giant box split double CD release from a label called Proseltysm that has pretty good versions of these same songs with some newer tracks. I think this band fucking rules, I enjoy the clean chanting vocals over the dark atmospheric death metal. Playing this at random around people on my playlists never brings about a negative reaction and is the cause of unconcious head bobbing.

  3. kvlt attakker says:

    OK – someone please pass the bong.

    1. deadite says:

      Sure, on the house.

      This stuff is pretty cool, has some of Nocturnus’ characteristics with a speed/heavy metal core. What do you not enjoy about it? (not patronizing, just curious)

  4. kvlt attakker says:

    The keyboard/organ sound at 24 seconds into it is off by a slight hair.

    I don’t dislike it – it’s just rather weird (as Nocturnus was) and makes me want to take a hit of pot.

  5. Everyone’s talking about drugs all of sudden? This is better than most stoner metal. More creative, musically more interesting.

    1. kvlt attakker says:

      It might be more creative — but to ascend to the 9 lands of oblivion, you must alter your mind, man

      1. kvlt attakker says:

        I think this is a rather great effort. It’s so different than most other things. This is a great review showing that it has both mainstream and underground influences.

        Now pass the bong :)

  6. Fruity but good. Sounds like KISS covering NOCTURNUS.

    1. kvlt attakker says:


  7. Invisible Sandwich says:

    This needs to be either more or less extreme (as in use of extreme metal technique); either would work. More overt traditional/power metal influence would open up new vocal techniques and otherwise make it easier to increase complexity. Increasing extremity would help with the aesthetics and probably result in tighter songwriting.

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