Death by bong

ALLA XUL ELU: Necronomichron 2

Release year: 2021
Label: Majik Ninja Entertainment

I’ve been obsessing a bit about US horrorcore trio Alla Xul Elu over here at the OnlyDeathIsReal HQ lately – and why shouldn’t I? Combining horror, pitch-black humour and good rap music in all the right amounts, they’re by far one of the most exciting artists to pop up on my radar recently. Yeah, I know they’re not exactly newcomers or unknowns in the horrorcore scene on the other side of the Atlantic, but here on the old continent, you’re hard pressed to find any of their albums.

Being quite prolific, the trio have released on average one release per year since 2017. That adds up to three full-length albums (including this one) and two mini-albums. Add to that the two full-length albums the band released (as a duo) before signing to Majik Ninja Entertainment, and you’ve got a respectable discography, and one of respectable quality, all released in under a decade.

As the name implies, Necronomichron 2, AXE’s most recent output at the time of writing, is a sequel of sorts to their earlier mini-album Necronomichron, reviewed here. Since then, the band have added a third member and otherwise fleshed out their sound considerably, so it comes as no surprise that this sequel breaks the horror movie code of sequels being inferior to the first entry in a series. In just about every way possible, Necronomichron 2 eclipses its predecessor.

This time around, the album goes farther than having a common theme; it’s a fully-fledged story album with a tale of terror and bongs related through the lyrics. Apparently it tells of a holiday trip to a far-away cabin the three members of AXE take, and the dank but cosmically horrific turn the trip takes as they come across some lovecraftian grade weed. Or something like that. It’s not exactly Shakespeare or Poe, you know. But it is worth trying to make head or tails of the plot, as basically all of the lyrics on the album revolve around it.

And therein lies the problem with Necronomichron 2: it’s too story heavy. On quite a few of the tracks, it feels like the narrative and the story album context takes precedence; this makes it hard to get into the album. It translates to far less catchy choruses than before, less inventive and memorable lyrics than before, and just less memorable individual tracks than before. For the longest time, it feels like there’s not much beneath the plot.

However, perserverance pays off.

It might take a long time, but eventually you’ll wrap your head around the story. When you start to get a grasp of the lyrics and what the heck they’re rapping about on a track, it becomes much easier to appreciate the rest of the album. And there is much to appreciate here.

Basically, this is classic Alla Xul Elu – did you really expect anything else? The production is a bit toned down comparing to Mauxuleum, with more emphasis on the beats and the vocals, but the trademark elements are all still here: pulsating synths, reverberating background voices, the occasional heavy guitar, and the general twisted feeling of horror movie soundscapes.

And obviously, the masked trio of AXE are in as fine form as ever. They deliver their vocals with the skill and power one has become accustomed to. But just as the lyrical concept is slightly more light-hearted and more obviously humorous than on the “regular” albums, so too do the vocals sound like they’re having a bit more fun in the studio than usual.

My absolute highlight of the album is Alternate Dimension with its super-catchy chorus – the track also features Blaze Ya Dead Homie, whose verse really amps up the song. Otherwise, even after getting into the album, one of Necronomichron 2’s shortcomings is its lack of standout tracks.

Ultimately, Necronomichron 2 is an album that has a deserved place next to the rest of Alla Xul Elu’s albums. Fans won’t be disappointed, although they may be initially miffed. However, beneath the silly skits and everything else, there is a solid album here.

But still, even though Necronomichron 2 is a good album, it pales in comparison to Mauxuleum, The Church Of Xul and The Almighty – this album is good, those are great. So, as fun as this album is, and as fun as it probably was to write and make, I hope the dead skin mask trio of AXE soon return to form and get back on track with more horrorlicious full-on hardcore horrorcore about murder, old gods, mayhem and corpsefucking.

Summary: Beneath all the bong smoke, a solid Alla Xul Elu album – but far from their best.

Visit Alla Xul Elu on their website or Facebook

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