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Necrophobic have always been the underdogs to me when it comes to their Swedish contemporaries (ie. Dissection, Entomed, Grave), but they should not be discounted for when it comes to giving utmost adulation for defining, influencing, and having a compelling impact on the evolution of Swedish (and Blackened) Death Metal. The Nocturnal Silence is Necrophobic's mephistolphelian debut album, and it truly precedes any of the bands successive releases. I am a fan of the band's entire discography, especially the subsequent "Darkside", but absolutely NOTHING comes close to topping the carefully calculated work of abomination that is The Nocturnal Silence. When you first sit down to listen to the music, and that's what you have to do when listening to this album. This is not something that can listened to as background music and be fully acknowledged and apprehend by the listener. Infact, it requires full engagement to be summoned into this realm of oblivion, so prepare yourselves.
We awaken in the tomb of the Necroworld; fueled by oppressive and blackened hatred. We hear nothing but the sounds of Blackmoon's eerie keys being played, and with every quiet note a growing intense feeling of unsettlement begins to arouse in our minds and hearts with weighted distress. And then...it happens. The grounds below our very feet open wider than the jaws of the earth during a world-shattering earthquake, and Necrophobic whirls a barrage of tremolo-picked riffs at our ears as we seemingly fall forever into the abyss...
"As darkness falls
Spirits are set free
As darkness falls
Awakening of the dead..."
It really is a cool experience! Necrophobic's riffing is especially driven by dark and grievous melodies, something the listener can't help but be enticed by. With every harmonic chord and note struck, you will soon be ordinarly humming the melodies and be completely encompassed by the brilliance of this album. But Necrophobic's arsenal is not full of just melodies here, they have plenty of nasty and distgusting riffs that are so prominent in Swedish death metal, such as the ones produced in the songs Unholy Prophecies, The Ancients Gate, and extensively in this whole album! Necrophobic truely know how to maintain their sound as a whole. Tobbe Sidegard's vocals are hideously catchy, and if I had not known his name, I'd think Lucifer himself were proclaiming for this band. Sterner's drums are pounding and menancing, and while not exceedingly decorative, he knows exactly what he should be playing during each section to maintain the deliberate maniacal atmosphere that this masterpiece is proverbial for.
If I was FORCED to complain about one single thing on The Nocturnal Silence, it would be that the bass is not as audible as I wish it were. The comprehensive sound would equal out to something like this: 25% drums, 25% guitar, 30% vocals, 20% bass. The vocals are easily heard with coherence of the drums and guitar, but the bass is swallowed in the mix. There are certain parts where it definitely stands out, such as in the opening parts of Father of Creation and the title track, but as a whole, it resonates below the rest of the music. This is a very petty dissatisfaction, and was rarely even considered when determining my final verdict of The Nocturnal Silence. The devilishly genuine elements of the music, the expansive and captivating atmosphere, the profone themes and lyrical content, they all speak the loudest. To put this in perspective, we have ourselves an album where the positives outweigh the negatives, and by outweigh, I mean completely crush. The Nocturnal Silence is genuine in it's vision, and massive in it's scope. All in all, if you're a fan of oldschool Death Metal, you should know about Necrophobic and this legendary and timeless antiquity!