Any band whose members work under the pseudonyms “The Mad Composer”, “The Daemon” and “The Gatherer” are sure to be a colourful proposition, and Homerik fulfil these expectations admirably. The New York band’s reputation is predicated upon the intrepid vim and almost comical grandiosity of their music, which is awash with instruments and timbres not commonly found in Western music, and certainly not in the stylistic straightjacket of thrash metal.
Throughout their self-titled album, this proves to be their USP. “Curse of the Black Nile” incorporates lines from the Cannibal Hymn of Ancient Egypt, although they are incomprehensibly gargled through what sound like several vocal polyps and a loch of whisky. Elements of the mead-hall sing-alongs of Power Metal and monastic choral music saturate “An Angel of Death”, while the lovably daft “The Ire of Green” lands somewhere between the Dropkick Murphys and Anal Cunt: the pastoral Irish Ceili abruptly yanked into some demonic realm, before the whole thing is buried beneath a torrential avalanche of double-bass rhythms.
The album is consistently at its most interesting when it is deviating from the restrictive blueprint of thrash. The intersection of thudding tribal drums and distant bestial screams on “Wendigo” generates a startlingly forbidding atmosphere, and the integration of Middle Eastern melisma into the thunderous cacophony of “Bread and Circuses” is surprisingly effective. Lead track and album highlight “A Song of the Night Part 1” plunges from the frolicking earnestness of European classical into the archetypically Metal rancour of tolling church bells and chugging riffage, with a choir of Gregorian monks rounding things out with typical histrionics.
However, this relentless stylistic experimentation ironically also undercuts Homerik’s individuality. Their core, unadorned sound simply isn’t distinctive enough to slice through the din of string sections, multiple backing singers and what at one point sounds distinctly like the theme from “The Legend of Zelda”. The band’s perpetual playing of dress-up as different genres at times smothers their own central sound. This is a shame, because on the punky pelt of concluding track “The Legion”, which is arguably the album’s most straightforward cut, Homerik succeed joltingly. Briskly propulsive and stirringly grand, the song is a satisfying culmination of the project while refraining from the ever more ludicrous excess that was likely tempting. However, it is this excess that is part of the album’s charm—as much as it is a work of abject, inoperable silliness, its firm refusal to apologise for this is likeable in of itself. CO
Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfbMvfNoNWU