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*The version I reviewed is the 2012 reissue by Hammerheart Records.
Damn, that awkward moment when you realize that what you get is not a new release of a cool band, which hasn’t released anything new for some years, but a reissue of some older release that you weren’t aware of in the past, but it wasn’t really a big loss anyway…
So yes, I expected to hear a new album from this awesome Swedish band, but what this release offers is 2 tracks from their demo “Bloodfreezing” from 1994 (I guess the 3rd track is missing here, because it’s called 'Hitler – The Most Evil Man In The World'? C’mon… ) and their EP “Spawned By Evil” from 1996. What does it mean? That means that you get more raw sounding versions of 3 tracks from the “Darkside” album and a bunch of Venom, Slayer, Bathory, Autopsy and Iron Maiden covers.
Am I disappointed because they sound like shit? I wouldn’t say they do, actually the covers sound cool with the Necrophobic touch, but the next time I feel like listening to any of these songs, I’ll stick to the originals, be it the original versions of 'Die By The Sword' or 'Enter The Eternal Fire' or the better produced “Darkside” tracks, as they sound on the album. I would say that this release is a must only for the most die hard Necrophobic completists, otherwise it’s just cool for a listen to two and then you will most probably forget about it.
Originally written for WWW.VOICESFROMTHEDARKSIDE.DE webzine
By 1996, Necrophobic had lost much of the momentum that was built through the earlier demos and their debut L.P. The Nocturnal Silence. There were some creative differences within the band, at this point. Also, Dark Funeral had become quite successful and David Parland was putting most of energy into that project. Right around the time that The Secrets of the Black Arts was released, Necrophobic returned with the Spawned By Evil E.P. Unfortunately, this release marked the departure of Parland. Released in January 1996, Spawned By Evil was not quite what fans were hoping for. Instead of a new album, Necrophobic released this mini-album, which only contained one new song. The other three tracks are covers. This was a little disappointing since, as was later revealed, the band was sitting on a handful of songs that could have been included.
A brief horror intro leads into the title track. It sounds slightly reminiscent of the intro to Sepultura's Schizophrenia, though far shorter. Musically, this isn't much different from the version that would appear on Darkside. The drumming seems a bit stale and repetitive, however. It's much more noticeable on this recording. Another thing that makes this E.P. significant is that this is the first Necrophobic release to feature Tobias Sidegård on vocals. This version isn't quite as raw as the later one, but there aren't too many differences, otherwise.
The next song is a tricky one, as it is a cover of Slayer's "Die By the Sword". The first thing that one might notice is that Tobbe's vocal approach doesn't quite fit the feeling of the song. Here, he goes for a deeper sound that feels a little too forced. The higher parts fit a little better, though. Still, nothing will ever come close to the original. Therein lies the problem in covering such an incredible song; it's very difficult to live up to such greatness. Joakim's drums don't have anything on Dave Lombardo's work on Show No Mercy, either. As far as the guitars, I have no complaints. David Parland and Martin Halfdan do an excellent job of maintaining the feel of the original. Despite the minor complaints, this is actually an enjoyable song. However, any band that tries to match the brilliance of the early Slayer albums is climbing up a slippery slope. Possibly, Dissection managed to get closest to this goal, with their cover of "Antichrist".
A cover of Venom's "Nightmare" follows this. I was looking forward to this, upon first listen, as this is one of my favourite Venom tunes. Here, Tobias sticks with the raspier vocal style, which fits the atmosphere much better. Musically, it's dead on; not much room for error when it comes to Venom. They do a great job of sticking to the original and not straying or changing the feeling. This is a top-notch cover of the Unholy Trio.
Finally, we have "Enter the Eternal Fire". Again, Necrophobic have taken on a hellacious task, as no one could ever possibly measure up to the standards set by Bathory, on the original. However, one must step back and realize that this shouldn't be taken so seriously. Obviously, they weren't attempting to compete with the original bands; instead, this should be looked at as the band simply having a little fun and recording some of their favourite songs. Musically, this is pretty solid. The guitars are dead on. Vocally, it's interesting but not nearly as morbid as the original. The bells and keyboards sound exactly as they do on the Bathory version, and the lead solo was nailed, perfectly. Again, the inclusion of this song is pretty awesome, as this is another song that has meant a lot to me for many years. If nothing else, this E.P. proves that these guys had great taste in music.
Spawned By Evil isn't, necessarily, essential. However, it's worth looking for if you're a Necrophobic fan that also loves Slayer, Venom and Bathory (and who the hell doesn't??). This is a little hard to find, from my experience, so be sure to take advantage of the situation if you ever run across it.