specially mastered for vinyl by Patrick W. Engel/ Temple of Disharmony
Germany in the 80s – sounds like thrash metal, doesn’t it? And for the dedicated metalhead, the name Necronomicon could also ring a bell. Formed in 1984, the band from Lörrach, Baden-Württemberg, could have made it big, if only they hadn’t fallen prey to the wrong record label back in the days… be that as it may, Necronomicon never gave in, and they are still here today. “Escalation” from 1988 was Necronomicon’s third full-length album, after the self-titled debut from 1986 and “Apocalyptic Nightmare” from 1987. Vocalist and guitarist Freddy explains why the re-release on High Roller makes total sense: “‘Escalation’ was certainly one of the most successful releases by Necronomicon and has reached cult status ... so I am very glad that Steffen, the label boss, has promoted the publication”.
He then tells a bit about the history and the significance of this album, which was recorded and mixed during the year 1987, at the “Zuckerfabrik”-studio in Stuttgart: “When Jogi (git.) and I wrote the songs, we wanted to leave the dark path of the two previous productions. Musically, we wanted to sound broader and more diverse… somehow more mature. And we were very proud of the result!” According to the reactions by fans & press, all these goals were met: The band had developed a much more focused approach to the songwriting, delivered a tighter and faster performance, and also Freddy’s vocals had changed; compared to the former albums, they had become a lot harsher, and a lot more unique. Did he work on that intentionally? “I think that comes automatically when the songwriting changes. The new songs simply gave me more space and opportunities for development”.
In general, this album is said to be the most convincing of Necronomicon’s first three outputs. Freddy remembers it just like that: “The response was incredible, we gained worldwide attention and got a lot of great reviews. For the first time, we earned a little money with one of our releases, because Gama Records held the exclusive rights only up to a certain sales volume... they simply had not reckoned with the success. The release of ‘Escalation’ was followed by our legendary East European tour that should herald the breakthrough for the band before then the big bang should follow”.
Necronomicon recorded “Escalation” as a three piece, as bassist Lars “Lala“ Honeck had left the band. Why did he leave? And why was he not replaced with a new bass player? “This was a hard blow and shock, especially for me, because Lala was my best friend – but he did not want to walk this musical path with us... unfortunately! So we pulled the production through as a three-piece, that’s right. Later, on the European tour, Michael Mörgelin came in as our new bass player.”
“Escalation” comes with a bunch of great thrash tunes, some of which are even regarded as small classics, like the opener “Death Toll” and Freddy’s own favourite, “Cold Ages (Dark Land 3)”. Only “Dirty Minds” is a bit unusual, being more classic hard rock than thrash metal – is there a special story behind it? “Actually, this was a song written by Jogi. Gama Records had mislabelled everything, even our names were reversed. The songs I wrote for this production are ‘Death Toll’, ‘Murder of Profit’, ‘…and the Night Will be Silent’, and ‘Cold Ages’. But now to your question: Jogi probably had a little heartache at that time... He gave me the lyrics, together with the task of sounding like a ‘Hard Rock’ singer…ok, nice try…!”
“Escalation” has already been reissued once, under the title “The Devils Tongue”, and also with a different cover artwork. Talking about this release gets Freddy really enraged: “This was another one of those rip-off of f…. Gama Records. We had absolutely no control over anything and we are literally ashamed of this release…I’m so sorry for this and for the fans who have been ripped and fucked off by this f….label!”
Looks like signing with Gama could actually have nipped the young band’s existence in the bud: “Well, Gama Records’ lack of support and their inconsistency caused many problems, and the band was forced to go through a long and expensive court case in order to regain ownership of its own name. On top of this, my co-founders Jogi, Lala and Axel were unable to continue with the band due to either health or personal reasons, leaving me as the only original member, and I made Necronomicon my life’s purpose and passion. In 1993, ‘Screams’ was released, but we had to deal with yet another body blow: This time we lost all our equipment, when the rehearsal room burned to the ground. To make matters worse, the new label simply disappeared shortly after they had released the album, and the band was cheated once again... a horrible time. But I believe in Necronomicon and I 'm not yet at the end of my journey!!!”
In 2014 Necronomicon celebrated their 30th birthday – that must have been a special year! Did the band celebrate this anniversary or make plans for the years to come? “Yes, we’re preparing for a big tour, and the new album will be ready soon. It will be called “Pathfinder…between Heaven and Hell“, and I’m gonna tell the whole story of the band musically, with all its ups and downs. This will be the most emotional album I have ever written. And you will also be able to hear the old band members on the album: They will all give their own statements about the history of the band. I'm looking forward to this, absolutely… Achim Köhler will mix and master the album. This is my gift for all those who have been supporting Necronomicon for the last 30 years. I want to thank our fans for everything, especially for their tireless loyalty. This is the greatest reward for me. Just enjoy this wonderful album from the good old 80's . Thank you and thank you again. With thrashy greetz…Freddy”