This is a re-published article from the Straight From Japan music news blog. Originally published April 27th, 2017. This article has been slightly shortened and edited. Original two part article located here: Part 1, Part 2
Today an interesting discussion happened in one of the many Facebook groups I am a member of. It was about a particular section of the front jacket art for the NECRONOMIDOL album, NEMESIS. It is an interesting piece of art, no question. I am sure it is full of odd meanings and cryptic secrets. Our focus will be on just one part, the skull in the bottom right portion.
Here it is blown up a bit, so we can really get a look at the detail.
The questions posed: Is it a language? What does it say?
Now, there is a possibility that it is just art and the symbols have no meaning, but what fun would that be? A couple of languages were tossed out, namely Greek and Coptic. The characters do have a resemblance to both languages but there are a couple that are not in either language.
The steam ran out of the conversation after that, so I struck out on my own. Once I encounter a mystery I will do my damnedest to figure it out. I started to go through all the ancient languages I could think of.
Middle Eastern? European? Let me tell you, there are a lot of ancient scripts out there. None of them seemed to fit. So I thought to myself, what are a good deal of NECRONOMIDOL’s songs based on? Lovecraftian fiction of course. Are there any fictional languages from there that may fit? Well, it seems that there are, but none fit either. Neither did any of the occult or magical languages.
So I went back to the conversation and looked at the third photo that was posted in the discussion.
Now this is not from any NECRONOMIDOL merchandise I have ever seen, so I asked where it came from and was given a Tweet.
After some digging I was able to find the artist, Suehiro Maruo, another practitioner of ero-guro art style (remember Shintaro Kago). I believe the panel comes from the manga Tomino no Jigoku which also includes this image, very similar in style to the album cover.
Interesting indeed. I read through all of volume 1 but did not find the panel in question. There is a volume 2 but I have not been able to find a copy to look at.
Now, I am sure we were all hoping for something pretty awesome from this cryptic looking message. The truth of what we have here is a bit more mundane than we were looking for, yet interesting all the same. It was also quite the journey.
First of all, the script turned out to be Byzantine Greek, when cleaned up it looks like this. (the best approximation, as Unicode does not cover this text type)
Now, what have all been waiting for. The big reveal…….
It translates as: Theodoulos monachos or Theodoulos the monk.
Not super exciting I know. There is one more thing though. It seems that Suehiro Maruo probably stumbled across a photo of this skull. And made an exact rendering of it, partially removed characters and all.
These are the skulls of monks and can be seen at Mount Athos, Greece. The monasteries have been active on the mount since the 10th century when a charter was granted by the Byzantine Emperor. You can read more about it here:
Exploring the skulls of Mount Athos, Greece
So mystery solved.