Review Summary: The perfect mix of brutality and darkness
As many fan of metal should know, Sweden has always been very hot on death metal, especially in the early 90’s. One of the most prolific countries for producing death metal, it is the homeland of many successful and popular bands such as Entombed, Dismember and Carnage. At the same time, black metal was also blossoming, especially in Norway, and one band that managed to seamlessly blend together these genres was Necrophobic.
Necrophobic were arguably the first band to produce blackened death metal. This is achieved by mixing the brutality of death metal and the cold, dark atmosphere of black metal. Whereas their Swedish counterparts like Entombed and Dismember made solid death metal albums in the early 90’s, Necrophobic went the extra mile by not only making their sound a lot darker than the aforementioned bands, but making their lyrics more evil too, the lyrical matter being heavily focussed on Satan and blasphemy, for the most part.
The vocals are outstanding on ‘The Nocturnal Silence’, and Anders Strokirk really utilizes his range, employing not only low guttural vocals (which are mandatory to death metal) but adds some high pitched shrieks too which further the black metal influence of the record, often shifting his pitch mid-scream. Anders truly was one of the best death metal vocalists around at the time, not just for his power and versatility, but also for his comprehendible vocals too. The lyrics really stand out at times because of this.
The musicianship on this album is excellent, the guitars managing to blend brutality and melody seamlessly and effortlessly to bring a perfect balance of the two. The solos are played very well too; not too technical, but enough to fit the overall aesthetic of the record. The drumming is varied too, not breaking any boundaries, but it certainly gets a tick on the death metal checklist, so to speak. However, the bass is barely audible, and that is perhaps one of the only let-downs on the album.
The other noticeable let-down on the album is the lack of variation on each of the tracks. From the eerie opener of ‘Awakening’ to the closer that is ‘Where Sinners Burn’, the tracks can be pretty hard to distinguish upon the first couple of listens, and all seem to sound very similar. However, when the songs are of the quality that they are, this doesn’t seem to matter too much, and this, as well as the lack of bass, is the only real let-down.
All in all, Necrophobic took the brutality that was shown in early Swedish death metal and added the dark and cold atmoshperes of many black metal bands, as well as a lot more variation in the vocal department. This is definitely up there with the classics such as ‘Like an Ever Flowing Stream’ and ‘Left Hand Path’, and if it were down to innovation, ‘The Nocturnal Silence’ would win against their aforementioned opponents quite considerably. If you’re an avid fan of death metal and perhaps black metal, as well as great guitar riffs and very cold atmospheres, this album is not to be missed.