Necrophobic - Mark Of The Necrogram album review

Sweden’s black/death overlords return to reclaim their throne

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Deemed at the time by some critics as the “Scandinavian answer to Deicide”, Necrophobic’s 1993 debut, The Nocturnal Silence, was an instant classic. Even if it was recorded at Sunlight studio as it should be, it took the already recognisable Swedeath style to much darker and more Satanic regions without sacrificing good old songwriting values. Although the late guitarist David Parland – later known as Blackmoon in Dark Funeral – wrote most of the music and the lyrics, Anders Strokirk’s authoritative voice played a big role. So to see him returning to the fold after a 23-year absence, following the whole drama that cut the band in half four years ago, is already a good sign. And while there is no Cold Lake to be found in their extensive discography, Mark Of The Necrogram might be their best album, since, well, The Nocturnal Silence. Newcomers will probably believe that Necrophobic listened a lot to Watain but it’s actually the other way around, and the two bands have a love of vicious guitar hooks in common. It’s no surprise the returning pair of six-stringers Sebastian Ramstedt and Johan Bergebäck actually shared rehearsal room with Watain back when they were wielding axes in Nifelheim. Instantly catchy and straightforward yet epic, to young, untrained ears this will sound like a perfect mix of the trademarked mid-90s Scandinavian death metal sound with blackened harmonies, like a heavier and less mystic version of early Dissection if you will. But to the initiated, it just sounds like Necrophobic, with each chorus delivered with a towering confidence, as if Anders was declaring a war to end all wars, the fitting artwork by Kristian ‘Necrolord’ Wahlin, who already illustrated their first two records, being the real icing on the cake. Studs’n’leather, songs about Satan ruling the world and that distinct Swedish touch: it’s all there.

Deemed at the time by some critics as the “Scandinavian answer to Deicide”, Necrophobic’s 1993 debut, The Nocturnal Silence, was an instant classic. Even if it was recorded at Sunlight studio as it should be, it took the already recognisable Swedeath style to much darker and more Satanic regions without sacrificing good old songwriting values. Although the late guitarist David Parland – later known as Blackmoon in Dark Funeral – wrote most of the music and the lyrics, Anders Strokirk’s authoritative voice played a big role. So to see him returning to the fold after a 23-year absence, following the whole drama that cut the band in half four years ago, is already a good sign. And while there is no Cold Lake to be found in their extensive discography, Mark Of The Necrogram might be their best album, since, well, The Nocturnal Silence. Newcomers will probably believe that Necrophobic listened a lot to Watain but it’s actually the other way around, and the two bands have a love of vicious guitar hooks in common. It’s no surprise the returning pair of six-stringers Sebastian Ramstedt and Johan Bergebäck actually shared rehearsal room with Watain back when they were wielding axes in Nifelheim. Instantly catchy and straightforward yet epic, to young, untrained ears this will sound like a perfect mix of the trademarked mid-90s Scandinavian death metal sound with blackened harmonies, like a heavier and less mystic version of early Dissection if you will. But to the initiated, it just sounds like Necrophobic, with each chorus delivered with a towering confidence, as if Anders was declaring a war to end all wars, the fitting artwork by Kristian ‘Necrolord’ Wahlin, who already illustrated their first two records, being the real icing on the cake. Studs’n’leather, songs about Satan ruling the world and that distinct Swedish touch: it’s all there.