When a band goes through the test of time, sometimes it changes. Most would say that it’d be for the worse (the good old “Only their demo was real!” argument), some would say for the better. Some would just not say anything and listen each time something new from a band pops up, without having prior opinions.
Necrophobic have been around since the late 80s and as such, have passed through a good few years of an abundant amount of full lengths, demos, singles and whatnot alongside lineup changes, when each turn of a year took Necrophobic forward with how and what they play. In comparison to other Black Metal acts who keep broadening their horizons in the bad meaning of the word, it seems that the Swedish bunch are just becoming more… evil. I mean, heck, if you listen to Darkside from 1997 or even The Nocturnal Silence, which are two amazing albums, but then listen to the more recent albums of the band, it’s pretty clear that the band have gotten even more creative and more Hellish than what they were back then. Or at least, that’s how it sounds like.
I’m not a big fan of long intro tracks, so an-almost 2:30 minutes intro is to me a bit of a waste, but it is quickly dwarfed as “Darkness Be My Guide” plunges itself into the front. A barrage of fast as heck, razor sharp riffs and hastily drum work already manage to carve out the bloody character that this album actually is. All the while, keeping a somewhat-easy entry and soft digestion with melodies that have been perfected over time.
“Mirror Black” is a nice little, uh, groovy piece, and by groovy I don’t mean light, but a track that would pound unto the listener’s inner ear and heart like a steel hammer. On the outside it sounds like a rather simple song, in comparison with the other tracks on the album, but at the same time it’s also one of the gems on the album, as the angry melodies intertwine with some of the more aggressive parts that Necrophobic ever wrote. It’s complex, yet it’s coated with elements that only require the listener to dive in.
Necrophobic have always maintained a clear line that they walk in, while keeping their heads opened enough to try and incorporate other elements into the music, as long as it doesn’t deter the main components of the music away from that same main line. It seems that it pays off again with this new album and is quite visible (or hearable, if that’s actually a word) with the short bombardments in “Tartarian Winds” or with an almost exact depiction of a culmination of their own work over the years, “The Infernal Depths Of Eternity”.
The Heavy Metal-ish small moments, the atmosphere that is built every time only to be deconstructed to begin anew, Ander’s cold as fuck vocals, and the brilliant work from the band’s string legion is kicking some songs here in the butt to try and push them to the top.
Heck, seems like as the more variety the Swedish gang successfully shoves into their material – they actually manage to keep to their own original sound. The title track itself, or “The Shadows” that comes after it, just give more examples for it exactly. The structure on the 7-Minutes “The Return Of A Long Lost Soul” is also doing exactly that, with its’ own sad doomy moments, before returning the usual Thrashy head chopping.
All in all, Necrophobic have once again guarded their place in the spotlight and their 2020 offering is a nice little musical ray of sunshine (Ehm, I mean, evil!) in this fucked up year.
Go get it.
Review by: Omer
Label: Century Media Records
2. Darkness Be My Guide
3. Mirror Black
4. Tartarian Winds
5. The Infernal Depths Of Eternity
6. Dawn Of The Dead
7. The Shadows
8. As The Fire Burns
9. The Return Of A Long Lost Soul
10. Devil’s Spawn Attack