Nekrogoblikon are the undisputed kings of goblin metal. That might be because their the creators and only band to play the style, but that’s not important. What is important is that after three great albums and an EP they’re back with another full-length album, ‘Welcome To Bonkers’ and it’s pretty damn good.
One of my favorite things about the band (apart from the fact they perform live with a goblin hype man) is that they’re not afraid to be fun. There’s a lot of bands out there who cover serious topics with appropriately somber or angry music. Nekrogoblikon are more interested in dead space giraffes and evil bears. Their embrace of major keys and quirky keyboard melodies manages to make a strange form of happy, catchy death metal and I’m happy to say that the band hasn’t completely changed their sound in ‘Welcome To Bonkers’.
The first single for the album “The Skin Thief” is the most traditional song of the bunch with its rapid tempo, pummeling drums, and unrelenting guitar attack. The rest of the album has more of a focus on catchiness than previous releases. That’s not to say the band have simplified their sound, there’s still plenty of impressive technical ability on display and no two songs sound the same. ‘Welcome To Bonkers’ is their most diverse album with plenty of experimentation to their formula. Keyboards play a more prominent role in this release, but they always sound like they belong; Songs like ‘’Dragons’’ and ‘‘Darkness’’ would sound sparse and be much poorer without them. Fans of Nekrogoblikon heavier work haven’t been left out though, alongside “The Skin Thief”, “Dressed As Goblins” harks back to the days of ‘Stench’ with its frayed vocal assault and rolling rhythm.
This willingness to mix things up means that there’s never a dull moment. There’s always another surprise waiting around the corner. “The Magic Spider”, a keyboard led track that will undoubtedly be a fan favorite sing-a-long at live sounds almost like some of kind of demented nursery rhyme. The first time I heard it I laughed at how ridiculous it was, but it ended up stuck in my head for days. Then you have album closer “Goblins”, a ballad-esque song which must have broken the record for the number of times the word “goblins” has featured in a song. The song, however, does highlight one of the more frequent criticisms of the band. While the band’s harsh vocals are excellent the cleans can occasionally leave something to be desired. That said I don’t know a single other singer who would suit this style of music more.
“Welcome To Bonkers” combines incredible musicianship and catchy songwriting while being unapologetically silly. It’s a joy to listen and its full of surprises that will keep you hooked. It’s only March but I feel like I may already have found my favorite album of the year.