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NECROPHOBIC Dawn of The Damned

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Friday, October 9, 2020 @ 11:05 AM


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NECROPHOBIC
Dawn of The Damned

Century Media Records




With the return of guitarists Sebastian Ramstedt and Johan Bergeback in 2016, veteran Swedish miscreants NECROPHOBIC really seemed to get their mojo back after 2013's fraught Womb of Lilithu, a bloated, somewhat lackluster affair marred by the ugly departure of longtime frontman Tobbe Sidegård just as the album was being released. Sidegård was fired after being sentenced to prison time for abusing his wife and kids, casting a further pall over the band whose former guitarist and founding member David Parland had committed suicide earlier in the year.

Getting frontman Anders Strokirk, who sang on NECROPHOBIC's 1993 full-length debut, back behind the mic was a step in the right direction. And when Ramstedt and Bergeback returned after five years away they brought with them the songwriting prowess and sense of direction that seemed missing on Lilithu. 2018's Mark of The Necrogram was more focused and feral – not to mention 20 minutes shorter – and gave the band the kick in the ass it needed.

After five years between albums last time, which was understandable given the turmoil, NECROPHOBIC did a quick turn for the ninth full-length in its 30-plus year career. Coming just two years after Necrogram, Dawn Of The Damned captures the same sense of electricity and vitality, but with a bit more dramatic flair. With its blazing trem guitars and surging riffs; blast-beat fury, chugging grooves and thrashy sprints; and majestic sweeps and flourishes that offset the band's malevolent persona, Dawn offers the perfect hybrid of black and death metal.

The lushly orchestrated intro “Aphelion” leads things off with a dose of DIMMU BORGIR-like opulence, but NECROPHOBIC quickly dispatches with the pomp and goes full-on black metal for the bracing “Darkness Be My Guide”. The epic “Mirror Black” brings the grandiosity back with its soaring, insidiously catchy choruses – even with Strokirk's insistent shriek. The more mid-tempo “Tartarian Winds” pairs fleeting, folk-metally guitar runs with heaving hooks that recall In The Heart of Winter-era IMMORTAL, never a bad thing.

“The Infernal Depths of Eternity” is more straight-up death metal with Ramstedt and Bergebäck's sawing riffs and the driving d-beat pace of founding drummer Joakim Sterner – the band's lone original member - until its ethereal outro that stretches the song out well past seven minutes and hints at some of the excesses of the recent past. The snub-nosed title track, however, brings things right back into your face with a grindier guitar attack and raspier, shoutier vocals from Strokirk and is perhaps the album's most single-mindedly vicious song.

That patterns repeats to close Dawn out with the monumental “The Return of a Long Lost Soul” and its awesome, climatic lead break - one of many, in fact, as Ramstedt's playing is simply stellar here - giving way to the thrash-tastic “Devil's Spawn Attack” that features guest vocals from DESTRUCTION frontman Schmier. Indeed, “Spawn” sounds almost like a DESTRUCTION cover with its note-perfect homage to vintage thrash and adds just a hint of cheekiness to an otherwise dead serious outing to send everyone home with a smile, as it were.

NECROPHOBIC very easily could have gone the way of BEHEMOTH and others and continued to add theatricality to its repertoire at the expense of visceral thrills. But I guess fate forced its hand with the expulsion of Sidegård opening the door for the trio of former members to return to the fold and not only help restore sonic order – while still maintaining a certain flair for the dramatic - but take what had been a winning formula and make it even more formidable.

4.0 Out Of 5.0


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