It’s a shame that “Womb of Lilithu” is likely to be somewhat overshadowed by news of frontman Tobias Sidegård’s recent run-in with the long arm of Johnny Law (and his subsequent departure), as NECROPHOBIC’s seventh full-length is actually a very decent affair. Granted, “very decent” arguably sounds like a less than enthusiastic appraisal, particularly in light of my love for their last few releases, and while it’s perhaps less impressive than classics like “The Nocturnal Silence” and “Hrimthursum”, their new album is definitely not indicative of a band intent on abdicating their throne any time soon.
Of course this wasn’t my stance after the first listen. Hell, even my second and third listens to “Womb of Lilithu” left a worryingly bitter taste in my mouth. At almost 69 minutes the album came across as seriously long in the tooth, and many of the songs seemed to be lacking that epic yet bile-ridden atmosphere that I had come to love about the band. As with anything womb-related, however, it simply needed a bit of time to gestate and soon enough the album started blooming into something quite enjoyable. The band’s patented synthesis of Black and Death Metal remains intact, peppered with their distinct use of melody, but on the whole “Womb of Lilithu” does seem to have been imbued with a decidedly more emotional dynamic.
That old DISSECTION aesthetic is given a thorough workout on fast and furious numbers like “Astaroth” and “Marchosias,” and “Paimon” distils everything from classic Heavy Metal to Black and Thrash into a satisfying (and seething) whole, but the band also wisely opted to retract their claws here and there. Tasteful restraint is evident on a track like “The Necromancer,” where a surprisingly emotive chorus meshes beautifully with an almost classic MEGADETH-like sense of riff-craft (something also evident on the following “Marquis Phenex”), while “Amdusias” bristles with an epic orchestral-flavoured hues.
There’s no getting around the fact that the significant running time and grand total of 14 tracks sometimes causes “Womb of Lilithu” to feel a tad lop-sided, no surprise since very few bands are consistently impressive across that amount of songs, but that really is the only gripe I have here. No, it doesn’t feature anything as instantly memorable as “For Those Who Stayed Satanic,” and it doesn’t feel quite as fleshed-out as “Hrimthursum,” but on its own this is yet another great NECROPHOBIC album and a solid swan song for Sidegård, whose recent departure is sure to usher in a new era for the band.
(Online October 29, 2013)