Top 3 reasons why this album is fucking amazing. 1) It’s produced at Sunlight Studios by Tomas Skogsberg. 2) It has a sample of a steel clashing battle. 3) It has the most killer, blood-boiling riffs this side of The Crown. Ok that’s pretty much it, but I guess your wanting a little more detail.This is the fourth album from these Swedish stalwarts, who got kind of overlooked during the death metal explosion of the early ’90s; regardless Necrophobic still steadily plug away. With Bloodhymns, Necrophobic have reached a musical pinnacle and quite possibly peaked later rather than earlier and released an album of such spine-shattering intensity and aural evil that this reviewer was literally left breathless after just the initial listen. I must admit I have never really gotten into Necrophobic’s other material other than 1993’s The Nocturnal Silence, but this new killer album certainly should raise Necrophobic to the upper echelon of the black\death metal genre.

Firstly, the production. Sound god Tomas Skogsberg has had over a decade to fine-tune his sonic craft into a revered art form. To Necrophobic’s credit they have utilized Sunlight Studios for all of their albums, and the consistency shows with a stunning guitar tone that revitalizes “the Swedish Sound”, but gives it a slick demonic black metal polish that makes every riff resonate with evil intensity. This is especially evident in the sickly ominous slower passages that just buzz with menace. The core of Necrophobic is in the duo of Tobias Sidegard (Vocals and Bass), and Joakim Sterner (drums). These two are the only two left from the original line-up, and remain the core songwriters, and even after a relatively unstable rotation of other members, are still very capable of penning some simply face-ripping tunes. Take, for example, my favorite track, “The Art of Rebellion.” This jaw-dropping number blazes away with Dissection-like abandon until about the 1:15 and 3:35 mark, after which it becomes a purely ass rending display of pulverizing evil complete with a Entombed like breakdown of “Left Hand Path”-type horrific proportions. It’s that good. I bet I listened to this song 30 times before I forced myself to listen to the rest of the album.

Thankfully the rest of the album, keeps up the high standard and is brimming with plenty of great moments of horn-sign throwing intensity (I actually caught myself throwing the devil horn sign at work, much to the chagrin of my very Baptist workmate). As I said earlier Bloodhymns has some very slow dark passages, but essentially the album is a full-on assault of savage speed that never loses control or focus. The hyper-fast moments are tighter than hell and each note is superbly rendered by the stellar production. But for me this album is all about attitude, because good production can only cover so much musical talent. Luckily, for whatever reason, Necrophobic has decided to suddenly write songs that just ooze a sinister aura of musical malevolence. A fine example is the brief yet baneful acoustic intros and outros to “Mourningsoul” and “Blood Anthem.” These short moments of suprising introspective peace are simple yet forceful reminders of the calm before and after the storm. It’s a very subtle, but powerful effect that lends a feeling of an impending threat to already good songs. It also polishes Necrophobic’s burnished product. Credit should also be give to lead guitarist Sebastian Ramstedt, who not only aided in the writing, but also performs frenzied solos that shatter the concept of what is the black metal solo. His moments in “Helfire” and “Cult of Blood” are worth extra mention. The latter is catapulted into sonic greatness by an unforgiving yet hateful solo at the 3:54 mark.

Necrophobic’s Bloodhymns is a complete album that conjures and the glory days of Swedish death metal, but pulses with a glistening black metal sheen. This album is fucking killer and I recommend it wholly to anyone that wants to be forced into a shameful bladder release upon listening to it. Of course, it ends with my favorite sample of a raging battle. What more can I ask for?

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
June 23rd, 2002


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