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Makes Emperor look intensely stupid - 90%

TrooperEd, November 3rd, 2016

If you were to do a Family Feud category of "death metal bands that made a successful transition to black metal," #1 on that survey would of course be Darkthrone. For a reason that can only be described best as "Not having Sharon Osbourne as a manager," Necrophobic gets completely forgotten in that shuffle, but they very much deserve the #2 spot on that survey. It's very unfair, particularly since this does a much better job of keeping the unholy black flame pure unlike their contemporaries Anthems To The Welkin at Dusk and Eld. While those albums weren't awful, they were only propelled to the forefront as a result of the power vacuum initiated from Euronymous' death, Varg's jailing, and 85% of black metal's jailing. Often times people forget "Big 4" deals with notoriety and commercial success, rather than the unfortunately subjective realm of acclaim.

Which isn't to say Necrophobic was free of their own drama. David Parland also made this transition but he preferred to make the move by leaving one band and forming Dark Funeral. He does hang around a bit for this album, providing songwriting and leads, but a sizeable chunk of Darkside is Tobias, Joakim, Martin and Sebastian left to their own devices. But seeing as how they were young, hungry, and itching to put something out after 4 years of LP silence, this lineup of Necrophobic proves to be quite the chemical meltdown. One would think they would have stuck to Nocturnal Silence part 2 partially out of spite, but no, it turns out they would follow Parland's guidance to the black realm and stay there for quite a long time.

It's fascinating how this lineage of hi-fidelity-yet-melodic-black metal reveals itself as a path not only between albums, but different bands. Next time you have an afternoon free to yourself listen to Somberlain, Storm of the Light's Bane, Far Away From The Sun and then that order (follow it up with Third Antichrist and Bloodhymns if you've got extra stamina to burn). Usually such duplication is frowned upon in music but here its not only condoned, but supported by peers! "Nailing The Holy One" features lead vocals from none other than Jon Nodviedt himself, though its executed more in a duet fashion on the chorus rather than an entire guest lead performance. Likely one of the last, if not the last musical contribution he made before his incarceration. The songs themselves are much shorter, more violent blasts of black metal than anything mentioned in the previous albums up to this point, but as long as no critical components are left out, short and sweet is hardly a bad thing.

Special mention has to go to penultimate closer instrumental Nifehel, which is one of the best metal instrumentals I've ever heard. It's fairly slow, but infectiously catchy, whilst managing to maintain a menacing, morbid mood leading the listener through the sinister courtyard album's very cover art itself. Sebastian and Martin's guitar lines are slow and tasteful, almost like a possessed, cannibalisticly inclined Eric Clapton, and they are the delicious butter-cream frosting to this birthday cake.

Ye Entrancempriumyass. THIS is the black metal album of 1997. I would love to give it top honors for the whole year, but certain Gamma Ray and Children of Bodom albums stand it its way....

Recommended tracks:
Black Moon Rising
Nailing The Holy One