October 26, 2020

Necrophobic are riding on the waves of inspiration lately. Recruiting the guitar duo of Johan Bergebäck and Sebastian Ramstedt back in the band in 2016 was probably the best decision band leader Joakim Sterner (drums) has ever taken. Actually, with vocalist Andreas Strokirk (who sang on the legendary debut The Nocturnal Silence) also having returned to the fold two years earlier, there was a new spirit and a new fire burning within the band. The first fruit of this sort of rebirth was 2018’s excellent Mark Of The Necrogram, and now, only two years later, we are given another punch in the face with the equally good Dawn Of The Damned.

After a cinematic feeling of impending doom in the form of intro song Aphelion, once Darkness Be My Guide kicks in, it is the whirlwind of blackened death metal we have always known and loved this band for. No surprises here. What makes impression, however, is the slightly rawer production in comparison with the more polished sound of Mark.. Tartarian Winds is more mid tempo, with an interesting, out-of-the-box song structure, which brings both mid-era Bathory and classic Dissection to mind. The album’s main composer is, once again, Sebastian Ramstedt, and it seems he has taken a bit of a different approach this time around. The epic beauty of The Infernal Depths Of Eternity speaks in a much more subtle way in comparison to the immediateness of the previous album. While Mark Of The Necrogram was more direct and “hooky”, if you like, Dawn Of The Damned presents much more twists and hidden treasures. This is an album which requires repeated listens to be fully appreciated. A song like The Return Of A Long Lost Soul is a perfect amalgam of all the band’s musical influences, with a foundation built upon the legacy of Priest and Maiden. The guitar hooks and melodies in all the songs are really catchy and memorable, but at the same time bear an aura of uneasiness and evilness.

Necrophobic have also always been the thrashers’ favorite black metal band and they know it. Just listen to the closing banger Devil’s Spawn Attack, which not only sounds like a forgotten German thrash classic from the early eighties, but also features guest vocals by Schmier! The overall feeling of completeness and of fulfillment of expectations is rounded up by the beautiful cover artwork by Necrolord and the absolutely crushing production by Unleashed guitarist Fredrik Folkare. Dawn Of The Damned will easily top extreme metal best-of-2020 lists, but what is more important is that this is another high point in an already strong catalogue of a really devoted and talented band. This is an album which fans will return to for years to come and a cornerstone of the contemporary extreme metal scene. One can only hope that the band’s well of inspiration is too far from drying up and they will go on flying the flag of classic black and death metal with even more determination.

9/10

Check out our interview with Joakim Sterner HERE

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