Although they never did shrug off the unwelcome nickname of "Second Sabbath" and then had to endure a doom arguably worse than never being noticed at all: watching their would-be first album, 1973's Orexis of Death, pitilessly shelved forever by their record company, England's Necromandus would receive a modicum of belated recognition when said album finally gained release in 1999. Big whoop! Tell that to the three out of four bandmembers who were already in their graves by then! But, at least for fans of obscure hard rock and metal, the album's unearthing was cause for celebration; festivities that had been denied to Necromandus singer Bill Branch, bassist Dennis McCarten, and drummer Frank Hall when their supposed benefactor, Black Sabbath power chord maestro Tony Iommi, lost interest in them, and then their guitarist and driving force, Barry Dunnery, lost faith, deciding to pack his bags as things began looking grim for the group. After all, it was Dunnery's monolithic riffing and nimble lead guitar work that first captured the attention of both the U.K. press and Iommi, prompting the latter to sign the group to a management contract and personally oversee production for Orexis of Death. So it's not at all surprising that the album's opening statement, "Nightjar" (following shortly upon a cryptically named and sounding, string-scraping introduction named "Mogidismo"), is quite similar to the Sabbath template, alternating chugging staccato doom riffing and reverberating power chords from Dunnery, only fleshed out with, frankly, tighter performances and better sound by the rest of the band. What is surprising is how quickly and completely Necromandus shifts gears thereafter, scaling back on the first number's general heaviness and distortion to delve into far more supple, eclectic, and at times rather impressive stabs at the fanciful art rock prototypes typical of the era. Namely, these included the mildly jazzy "A Black Solitude," energetic folk strummer "Homicidal Psychopath" (neither of which does justice to its foreboding title, allegedly changed later without the band's knowledge), and the very definition of anything-goes prog rock that is "Gypsy Dancer." The more compact, guitar-driven construction of "Stillborn Beauty" reverts a little closer to hard rock expectations, but the title track's urgent brand of folk-jazz (including guest guitar from Iommi) and the closing reprise of "Mogidismo" ultimately leave listeners with more questions than answers. These questions combine with some of those unforeseen stylistic meanderings and the fact that Necromandus' songwriting simply wasn't on par with that of comparable success stories like Black Sabbath, Genesis, Jethro Tull, or even Gentle Giant, to in some way justify Vertigo Records' decision to not bother releasing Orexis of Death in the first place. But the album's unquestionable bright spots and the inclusion in most available CD reissues of a revealing live set from March 1973 (a show they headlined over Judas Priest!), featuring some of their other, non-LP, heavier compositions, actually do justify the interest of collectors of ‘70s rock.
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AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia