If you are an extreme metal fan of many years standing and have never heard of this band, who originally formed back in the mid eighties, I think you can be forgiven; I was in the same position when this 'best of' came my way for review. It seems that this Italian band have never really gained a fan base outside of their native country, despite their longevity.
Age of Fear contains material from Necrodeath's two late 80's albums, their numerous studio releases since their return to action in 1999, a live track, a cover version (Slayer's "Black Magic") and one track in two alternative versions. Whether there's enough here for existing fans to want to shell out is debatable, but it seems to be a comprehensive collection showcasing the different dimensions of the band.
The tracks lifted from the eighties, such as opener "Mater Tenebrarum' and "Eucharistical Sacrifice", are fairly typical thrash fare from that era – cod-classical acoustic intros, sections of furious bluster tempered by mid paced riffs, wild soloing, rasping, semi-screamed vocals and a rough and ready production job; all these are present and correct. The closest comparison would be Kreator circa Pleasure to Kill/ Terrible Certainty, although the song-writing quality isn't at the same level.
The more modern material showcases better production, as you'd expect, and also has some more variety and experimentation – "I.N.R.I. has some effective tribal percussive patterns, whilst "Queen Of The Damned" exhibits some doom and gothic influences. The 'onyric' version of the latter song is probably the most atypical song here, with its piano, orchestration and female vocals. The majority of the material, however, doesn't deviate too much from the band's thrash roots.
Overall, the quality of this release is reasonable – there's a fair few mediocre tracks but no clunkers, and even the duller material is enlivened by something, be it a searing guitar solo, a crunchy riff or a decent shouty chorus. Necrodeath are hardly a hidden gem, and don't offer much in the way of originality, but this is a decent collection of European thrash which fans of the genre might want to check out.
1. Mater Tenebrarum
2. Awakening of Dawn
4. Smell of Blood
5. Master of Morphine
6. Forever Slave
7. Queen of Desire
8. Burn and Deny
9. Hate and Scorn
10. Flame of Malignance
11. Eucharistical Sacrifice
12. At the Mountains of Madness
13. The Theory (live)
14. Queen of Desire (Onyric version)
15. Black Magic