Necrophobic - Hrimthursum
Regain Records
Blackened Death Metal
12 songs (59'09")
Release year: 2006
Necrophobic, Regain Records
Reviewed by Alex

It truly must be a great trait when one can use little words in a conversation, but most of them counted. Swedish Necrophobic, due to their serious approach or simply life circumstances, have not released many albums since their inception in 1993, four up till now to be exact, but their The Nocturnal Silence, no doubt, counts among the classics of the blackened death genre. Three years senior, it might make for an interesting debate which album was more seminal, the abovementioned The Nocturnal Silence or Dissection’s Storm of the Light Bane (of course, Dissection had The Somberlain by then as well). Named after a Slayer track and playing host to some prominent members of the Swedish extreme metal scene (Blackmoon, Dark Funeral), Necrophobic has never been shy to add tunefulness to wickedness, making the end result memorable, but no less powerful.

Four years and another label switch behind them, Necrophobic have put out another effort, the epic twelve-track long Hrimthursum (The Frost Giants). I want to try this review not to become the seed of a discussion on what “true” extreme metal is. That definition will always remain in the eye of the beholder, but one thing can be said about Hrimthursum. Necrophobic is definitely an extreme metal band which is very hard to peg. Their brand of death metal is not about blasting away destroying everything in its wake, it allows for lots of melody, guitar hooks and black metal atmosphere. At the same time the Swedes range as far as gothic or extreme power metal influences. However, this is all dedicated to one goal and it is all measured with one stick. If it does not sound evil enough, it must not be Necrophobic.

For many bands, the symphonic intro The Slaughter of Baby Jesus would have been limited to a few crying baby samples. Instead, Necrophobic make this a full-fledged ominous overture with tribal ritualistic drumming and Therion lending a choir. In the end, you don’t know whether Baby Jesus was slaughtered or Antichrist has been born, but the stage is set. From here on out Necrophobic plunge us in the world of driving, pummeling, but measured, rhythms and dark guitar riffs. Sticking with the previous comparisons, Blinded by Light, Enlightened by Darkness alone overshadows anything Dissection recently put out on Reinkaos. Being superfast is never an overriding goal for Necrophobic on Hrimthursum. The blastbeat and double bass rhythms are interwoven, and the band makes it a goal to ravage the listener one song after another with their guitar driven sense of impending doom. The gathering storm on Bloodshed Eyes gains strength before it finally erupts in a shamanistic march and double bass supported clean chorus making the music completely apocalyptic. Such little details add immensely to the atmosphere, like the bells arrangements and some female backing vocals added alongside hammering riffs on The Crossing. Tobias Sidegard vocals are certainly of a fire breathing powerful nature, and they are quite legible, but a few clean chorus touches add wonderful variety.

The same can be said about different orientation of some of the album’s songs. Eternal Winter is probably the “blackest” song on the album, creeping up on the Norsecore territory of Keep of Kalessin, Kult ov Azazel and Gorgoroth. Sitra Ahra is much slower, lumbering and doomy, while Age of Chaos is purely gothic, practically Moonspellish, even down to the vocal gurgling similar to Fernando Ribeiro, yet three times more intense than anything found on Memorial.

Just about every song has a melodic moment, a superb solo (Blinded by Light, Enlightened by Darkness, The Crossing, title track), dark piano (I Strike with Wrath), quick flamenco & bass interplay (Sitra Ahra) or the aforementioned clean choruses. At the same time The Crossing and, especially, Black Hate remind us that Necrophobic hail from the land of the famous “Swedish buzzsaw” sound.

The album being almost an hour long, I feel that Serpents (with an off-key solo) and Black Hate lose a little momentum. But everything is regained with a monster closing title track, rising from the depths, tremolo strum flying like a dark beast, breathtaking melodic solo and somehow appropriate again female backing vocals.

Kvlt or not, Necrophobic deliver a bloodcurdling album without extreme guitar distortion or frozen sounding production. Appealing for the fans of many genres, Hrimthursum will captivate from the first listen. The fans of Dissection, Naglfar, Behemoth, Thy Serpent should take note.

Killing Songs :
Blinded by Light, Enlightened by Darkness, The Crossing, Eternal Winter, Hrimthursum
Alex quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by Necrophobic that we have reviewed:
Necrophobic - Womb Of Lillithu reviewed by Neill and quoted 70 / 100
Necrophobic - Death to All reviewed by Alex and quoted 75 / 100
Necrophobic - Bloodhymns reviewed by Jack and quoted 75 / 100
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