Review Summary: With Satan as their witness, Necrophobic arises from the dirt.
An album like Mark Of The Necrogram
is hard to talk about without contextualizing it with the rest of the band’s discography. While the group may have The Nocturnal Silence
under their belt, which is considered a classic blackened death metal album, their releases from 1999 to 2013 are lackluster in many facets, namely that they lack what made the group's earliest records so enthralling. Yet, the five years between 2013’s Womb of Lilithu
and this current album is certainly a long time to go without releasing an album. Even still, it’s questionable if the group is even capable of putting together another record worth listening to, but, despite all odds, they somehow did it.
Much of what separates this record from much of the band’s lackluster material comes down to the pugnacious and heavily apparent energy. This crucial element is often what kills late career metal, as the engaging tension is lost when the members play with the enthusiasm of a retirement home dweller. The performances here are lively and sharp, balancing the raw aesthetic of black metal and the crushing attitude of death metal. These compositions benefit from the occasional, strange grooves, heard most obviously in “Lamashtu,” spicing up the instrumental progressions and solid structuring of the riffs. Songs like “Tsar Bomba” and “Requiem for a Dying Sun” exemplify this record’s levels of consistency, as they show a strong grasp on pacing and maintaining attention. The percussion is punchy and satisfying, further perpetuating the pace of these songs, while delivering a barrage of satisfying blast beats and drum fills. All of this is accentuated even further by the ominous bass, which subtly builds a hazy layer behind the riffs at centerstage.
Much like a lack of dark spirit, many returning bands often have trouble with balancing the dense murkiness found in productions of yesterday and the higher fidelity clearness of today’s recordings. The inbetween found on this album is serviceable, with everything having a weight to it without sacrificing all clarity, but it’s hard not to notice the over importance placed on the vocals, which very rarely escape from an average growl. The various production oddities, which also entails a slight lack of interesting cacophony in the atmosphere, detract from the experience a bit, as does a lack of uniqueness in the songwriting. While maintaining a level quality, it’s strict adherence to its formula leaves a bit to be desired, making it’s lack of fluctuation is both a gift and a curse. Still, the experience is quite a fun one, featuring infectious extreme metal that’s surprisingly bold and exciting. Despite the odds, the once fallen Necrophobic has returned to a level of quality last seen in 1997’s Darkside