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Necrophobic - Hrimthursum - 2006 - Regain Records

Track Listing:
1. The Slaughter of Baby Jesus
2. Blinded By Light
3. I Strike With Wrath
4. Age of Chaos
5. Bloodshed Eyes
6. The Crossing
7. Eternal Winter
8. Death Immaculate
9. Sitra Ahra
10. Serpents
11. Black Hate
12. Hrimthursum
The late 80's were a time of great development in Sweden. Nearly every major player in the Swedish death scene of the 90's and 2000's, be they of Gothenburg or Stockholm breed, was established in either '88 or '89. Among this group are all the marquee names we still recognize today (Dark Tranquillity, Grave, Dismember, In Flames, Entombed), but also some who have been fairly quiet throughout the years, among them Stockholm's Necrophobic.

The band began as one might expect, considering their country and city of origin; drenched in fuzzed guitars and the standard grunts decrying the name of Heaven and so on. Over the following years, Necrophobic would largely retreat from the public eye, releasing only a total of four from 1989 until 2006 and their style eventually shifted from a rudimentary rough 'n' tumble to a fairly unique blend of death metal's barbarism and black metal's raw atmosphere. Something like Naglfar covering Dismember, if you will.

'Hrimthursum' arrives after another lengthy layover; the band has had some issues with labels over the past few years and was not often in the process of writing (much less recording) music until Regain picked them up in '04.

The album is being called their most varied and epic to date (which, honestly, for Necrophobic is not saying all that much), and that promise is fulfilled, though not very obviously. Necrophobic is still recognizable as the rumbling war machine it has always been, but they are a bit more refined this time around. 'The Slaughter of Baby Jesus' is, in addition to being one of the most blatantly heretical song titles in all of metal's infamous history, an effective intro track that establishes the band's increased affinity for a nearly Gothic approach, in terms of production and songwriting. Not Gothic in the 'HIM' sense--Gothic in the 'naked virgin sacrificed upon the altar by a vampire with lace-covered sleeves in an abandoned chapel at midnight' sense, along with all the insidious posturing that accompanies such theatrics. Dramatic choirs make appearances in a supporting role throughout the record, bolstering the highly tuned vocals of longtime bassist and singer Tobias Sidegård. His voice is reliable and appropriately raspy, but he appears a little too much, not letting the music establish its presence often enough. The beginning of the song 'Blinded By Light', where he is absent, is one of the album's most stirring and enlivening moments, and if this style had been more developed, 'Hrimthursum' would be a powerful beast. Unfortunately, apart from intros and occasional solos, the guitars are, instead, tuned too low in the mix, relative to Sidegård's vocals, and the melody lines of the rhythm guitars sometimes fade to the far background.

'Hrimthursum' rolls along at a steady tempo, sometimes slowing for atmospheric effect but rarely taking dramatic steps to change their formula. The pace is best described as a notch above the modern death/doom outfits of today--right around where Moonspell are, most of the time. In fact, Moonspell's fanbase might enjoy Necrophobic's new fittings, particularly the somber, clean vocal verse in 'Bloodshed Eyes'. This track, and the next, mark the album's creative peak; a number of the second half's tracks could have, and perhaps should have been, excluded.

Only upon reflection does the content of 'Hrimthursum' seem to break out of the mold set by their back catalogue. While actually listening, the variations that do exist are usually pulled to the background by the album's essentially unchanging tempos and tunings. Each song continues the last rather predictably, and the often-average songwriting does not reflect the band's long dormancy (i.e. their long opportunity to write exquisite material). Even so, there is a good amount of enjoyment to be found in these sixty minutes, and fans of the band will appreciate their expanded repertoire while new ears may be attracted to the straight-ahead churn still showing through from their older days.



Rating: 3



--Etiam
Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: NECROPHOBIC
CD
TITLE BAND
DOR
REVIEWER DATE
HrimthursumNecrophobic
2006
Etiam8/24/2007


ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: NECROPHOBIC
TITLE BAND
DOR
REVIEWER DATE
Satanic BlasphemiesNecrophobic
2010
Ben McCraw5/4/2010


ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: NECROPHOBIC
INTERVIEW BAND INTERVIEWER DATE


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