Review: “Dawn Of The Damned” by Necrophobic

When a band reaches a milestone like a 30th Anniversary the question is often asked, are they still the force that they once were? Do they still have the same hunger, the same desire and the same thirst for blood and debauchery that they had when they started out? Formed in Stockholm Sweden in 1989 by drummer Joakim Sterner, Necrophobic have seen more than their fair share of line up changes, something that has probably been core to their less than prolific output of nine albums in 31 years, but quality rather than quantity is what the Blackened Death Metallers specialize in. 2018’s “Mark of the Necrogram” was their first in five years with bassist Allan Lundholm making his recording debut this time around having joined in 2019. Necrophobic have always tended to create music revolving around lyrical themes of darkness, evil, blasphemy and Viking mythology and nothing has changed in that regard with guitarist Sebastian Ramsted credited as being the main writer. This partnership with fellow axe wielding lunatic Johan Bergebäck was resurrected in 2016 after a five year hiatus that saw 2013’s “Womb Of Lilithu” the bands only outing during that time…

…”Aphelion” is the virtuoso guitar introduction of sinister atmosphere that belongs in a cinematic surrounding, such is it’s huge sound with Danny Elfman or Hans Zimmer esq qualities that cleans the mind of all thought and get your full attention in abject wonder as to what demon is about to arise from the black depths as you stare into the volcano. The answer to that question comes in the barnstorming “Darkness Be My Guide“, a thunderous Black Metal percussive performance from Sterner that proves he is still the machine of old that few can hold a candle to. The arpeggios from both guitarists are equally impressive and by the end if this doesn’t have your attention, then you’re already dead. Album forerunner single “Mirror Black” is loaded with relentless blast beats and Black Metal riffs while offering a classical Thrash whammy bar drop moment that is a face melter. High tempo and adrenaline fueled, the band showing no signs of leaving the demonic path they have chosen and a couple of neat tapping sections add a flash of technicality to the lead riffs, not to mention the chantable vocal parts which will go down brilliantly live. “Tartarian Winds” continues to deliver with electrifying solos and intertwining leads that raise the hair on the back of your neck; the mixing has been perfectly executed with the balance between each of the instruments weighted with great understanding of how genre and band should sound. The melody within the symphony of destruction that is “The Infernal Depths of Eternity” makes for another stand out moment, Anders Strokirk’s vocals having a echo effect applied to them at certain points adding an extra dimension. An acoustic break into the final third allows for the guitars to soar away on the four winds of plague when they break back for a well crafted grand finale…

…oddly enough, title track “Dawn Of The Damned” while very good, isn’t the finest moment of the album but instead a fine summary piece for what the overall feel of the record is like. Making use of atmosphere for a short and sweet haunting introduction before roaring headlong into to black forest of blast beats and while being chased by a demon summoned from the Underworld, makes for another ripper. The whammy bar into solo comes straight from the Death Metal playbook while the sheer number of solos throughout the record is a Trivium fans wet dream while lyrically it is a bit cliched but not to the point where it becomes cringe worthy. “The Shadows” takes us to the darkest depths of hell, the serpents layer, in the best way possible with driving riffs and more epic songwriting. As a band, Necrophobic who incidentally take their name from “Reign In Blood” by Slayer are at their musical peak, roaring through the valley like a tornado, destroying everything in their path. If you’re a Black Metal fan you’ll know that there is usually a raw production quality; the polar opposite is true here; it’s all about the virtuoso lead flourishes and flesh shredding solos that are simply jaw dropping and if the quality of the recording was any less, they would sound awful instead of having a mesmerizing quality. “As the Fire Burns”  continues the consistency of the record, keeping it very high indeed, almost to the point that the bar gets raised with each track; something which brings us back to our earlier point about the bands less that prolific output. When the quality is this high, the duration between records is worth it’s weight in gold. “The Return of a Long Lost Soul” brings the axe dueling to a whole new level that blows the mind while “Devil’s Spawn Attack” closes the chapter with a nod to Slayer in it’s opening salvo that echoes out later on with Strokirk reaching shrill highs not witnessed to this point. Using the whammy bar to get some banshee like moments into the mix is something else and Necrophobic have quite literally saved the best until last [8.5/10]

Track listing

1. Aphelion
2. Darkness Be My Guide
3. Mirror Black
4. Tartarian Winds
5. The Infernal Depths of Eternity
6. Dawn Of The Damned
7. The Shadows
8. As the Fire Burns
9. The Return of a Long Lost Soul
10. Devil’s Spawn Attack

Dawn Of The Damned” by Necrophobic is out 9th October via Century Media

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