Oddly enough, for an album that packs so much into the time allotted, there’s not a lot to say about Lock Up’s new album “Necropolis Transparent.” The super extreme grindcore supergroup, consisting of Tomas Lindberg (At the Gates,) Shane Embury (Napalm Death,) Nicholas Barker (ex-Cradle of Filth, ex-Dimmu Borgir) and Anton Reisenegger (Pentagram) have put together a compilation of ceaseless noise organized into songs. The album is a jagged obelisk representing the tenets of grindcore, for better or worse.
Not as needlessly cacophonic as others of the genre, there is a certain artistry woven through the seeming lack of articulation. Neophytes of metal and the otherwise uninitiated (i.e., parents that “just don’t understand,”) will likely pass off Lock Up’s album as a heap of screaming, dissonant slag. In an ironic twist, they’ll be right, but in this case, that means the artists have achieved their goal.
Discerning listeners will go one of two ways. The more academic among them will either enjoy the clandestinely technical construction of Reisenegger’s guitar and the evident prowess of the other musicians, particularly Barker’s nonstop, speed-of-light percussion. The other half of the discerning listeners will simply see “Necropolis Transparent” as “Show No Mercy” on crack, and use it to scare the shit out of their neighbors. Either way, I’m sure Lock Up is on board.
More than Lock Up would probably want to admit, there is a certain rhythm that sets the pace through much of the album. They (and some critics) can argue all they want about the lack of melody and unapologetic absence of groove, but veterans of thrash and similar sub-genres will no doubt detect the underlying time signature of songs like “Rage Incarnate Reborn.”
That’s not to say that there isn’t a fair share of pure, blistering, mind-numbing sonic assault, because that’s copiously evident as well. Roughly half the tracks on the album begin with some kind of complete disassembling of the common tropes of music, replaced with bitten-off guitar notes and blast beats roughly at the speed of a Phalanx CIWS.
“Infiltrate and Destroy” is the track on the album that best combines the Slayer-esque high speed punch with the sheer head-exploding power that grindcore veterans are capable of. It begins with a solid head-banging verse, which gives just enough of an accessible taste before devolving into destruction-by-design.
Speaking of getting a taste, part of the album’s construction revolves around most of the songs being on the shorter side. Whether intentional or accidental, these comparative staccato bursts of music serve to keep the listener off guard. The entirety of “Necropolis Transparent” is tense and writhing, with very little margin for comfort. Whether or not that’s a compliment depends entirely on the listener’s perspective, and what they hope to gain from the album.
“Necropolis Transparent” is well-crafted for what it is, but is a difficult listen from end to end. Those not completely committed to the grindcore genre will find very little use for it, and the album only appeals to a relatively small section of the fragmented metal audience as a whole. Barker’s drums are the album’s highlight, and curious fans might want to dip their toe just for a sample of that. For those looking to be challenged by their music, both in terms of technical prowess and in testing their patience for listening, Lock Up might be up your alley.