With the new DISSECTION being pretty much a disaster from start to finish I had quietly hoped that fellow countrymen NECROPHOBIC would step up and help purge the bitter taste that REINKAOS left in my mouth (or my ears in this case…). Well, thank Satan they didn’t disappoint with the new album “Hrimthursum” (meaning ‘Ice Giant’, methinks). Actually this album basically trumps “Reinkaos” in every department.
The thing I like most about this album is its subtle level of intricacy – all these songs are filled with great little nuances that just add to the overall sound of this band. NECROPHOBIC always toed the line between the more aggressive and melodic sides of both Death and Black Metal, but they never seemed quite settled with their overall sound. Not so on this one. After the instrumental opener, “The Slaughter Of Baby Jesus” I just knew that this album was going to be the defining moment of this band’s career. The aforementioned opener could have worked as a standard opener but the band decided to turn it into a full-fledged track with numerous samples, ominous bass lines and creepy crying effects all over the place – it really creates a quite apocalyptic and downright evil atmosphere. “Blinded By Light, Enlightened By Darkness” then follows and it is a classic from the first note! Taking the best DISSECTION melodies and adding lots of Thrashy riffing and some brilliant soloing this one had me going off the walls in no time! “I Strike With Wrath” is another killer with some great doomy sections segueing effortlessly into frantic Death passages before ending off with some very tasty keyboard work. “Bloodshed Eyes” is a much more aggressive and malicious track that features some great vocal arrangements and a simply transcendental military drumming and chanting part supported by subtle underlying Thrashy riffing that lasts almost 2 minutes and really raised the hairs on my body! Where the hell was this inspired level of songwriting on previous outings from this band?!
But wait, there’s more! “Eternal Winter” is more Black Metal than anything else and the grim atmosphere that it creates is downright amazing – better than anything from the new DISSECTION or any of the current Norsecore bands out there at the moment. “Sitra Ahra” slows things down by several notches and the whole song feels like a summoning/invocation with its catchy yet ominous chants and the brilliant acoustic break didn’t hurt either. The album closes off with “Black Hate” and the title track, with the former being driven by a very simplistic but cool old-school BATHORY riff and the latter being another instant classic with its epic atmosphere and very effective female backing vocals. These female vocals are actually used quite a bit on the album and they operatic feel that it brings does nothing but strengthen the band’s already impressive arsenal.
Well NECROPHOBIC totally floored me with this release and I definitely feel it is the best work of theirs so far. They never settle into a comfortable niche, but even with all the operatic, Death, Black, Thrash and even folky (here and there) elements present in their sound they never come off as pretentious or unfocused. A brilliant album from a criminally underrated band!! This will surely end up somewhere in my year end top 10 list.
Oh yeah and it also features some of the coolest album covers I’ve seen all year!