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Revel in Satanic glory - 100%

colin040, March 7th, 2020

By 1993 Swedish death metal was something truly to behold. Characterized by massive downtuned guitars, shouted death roars and influenced by D-beat, this style of death metal had become a well-known phenomenal. Necrophobic were a bit late to the party, but their present was nonetheless welcome, even if it wasn’t the most-something kind of present.

The Nocturnal Silence is not the fastest, heaviest or most evil offering – but it does feature a healthy balance of such aspects. Guitar tones carry enough weight to make each riff stand out, even if they’re not extremely downtuned, while harsh vocals avoid the ‘’demonic noise so hard to hear’’ approach. If The Exorcist didn’t need a demonic being that was all incoherent, why would this album need one? Sometimes less is really more: Anders Strokirk sounds gruff, yet his coherent rasp makes me convinced he’s not much of a Jesus fanatic.

Necrophobic never drifted far away from the blasphemous noise they crafted early on, yet it was guitarist David Parland who was responsible for the most brilliant offering of the band. His style is rather unique; downpicked thrash-inspired mayhem, grinding mid-paced churning and rapid tremolos are all part of his repertoire. Clearly, The Nocturnal Silence is a riff-driven album, but it’s not a ‘’riffs for riffs sake’’ album. The nine compositions all have their fair share of tempo changes, yet every chapter of this tale makes perfect sense – be it the rapid-fire onslaught of ‘’Sacrificial Rites’’ or the masterful crafted ‘’The Ancient Gate’’. There are also a few unexpected tricks working well in the band’s favor, such as freezing black metal-esque opening segment of ‘’Awakening…’’ or the unexpected striking tremolo motif at 3:30 (a short tribute to Altars of Madness perhaps?) unleashed on ‘’Inborn Evil’’.

While most old school death metal albums aren’t too versatile, The Nocturnal Silence is versatile enough considering the style. I’d argue that the first six compositions are the most nuanced here - the calculated, yet surprising approach Necrophobic aimed for should ease the listener with a vague sense of what to expect once this album goes into action. The last three compositions sees the band zooming in on aspects you could briefly experience earlier thorough the album. The aforementioned ‘’Sacrificial Rites’’ explodes into high gear straight away, whereas ‘’Father of Creation’’ slowly unfolds into something grand and ‘’Where Sinners Burn’’ features the band at their most restrained and melodic. But don’t be fooled! The only overly melodic themes present here appear through sinister, yet classy solos that counter the gruff riffing, yet you would never call this record a melodic death metal record - the amount of grit present here should remind you that The Nocturnal Silence is still a death metal album at its core.

Easily up there with the actual Swedish sounding death metal efforts, The Nocturnal Silence is certainly is one of Sweden’s best death metal albums of all time. While Necrophobic have always followed the dark path, this is easily the band at their darkest and most majestic. Absolutely essential.