Genre: Blackened Death Metal
Country: Sweden
Label: Century Media
Year: 2018

The Swedish legends of ‘Satanic Death Metal’ return after 5 years of absence. There were many line-up changes since the release of ‘Womb of Lilithu’ in 2013. Ex-frontman Tobias Sidegård was fired due to domestic violence charges and he was substituted by Anders Strokirk, who was the vocalist on their classic debut ‘The Nocturnal Silence’, while former guitarists Sebastian Ramstedt and Johan Bergebäck have also returned. So, let’s see what Necrophobic are offering us with ‘Mark of the Necrogram’.

Just by looking at the excellent cover art by Kristian ‘ Necrolord’ Wåhlin, connections with the band’s past, and specifically ‘Darkside’, become instant. Those connections become more obvious when you hear the first musical notes of the s/t opening track. ‘Mark of the Necrogram’ is one of those Black/Death Metal masterpieces that Necrophobic have offered us many times in the past. Fast and melodic riffs, awesome guitar leads and a tight rhythm section, while Anders Strokirk’s vocals are closer to the blackened growls of his predecessor than that of ‘The Nocturnal Silence’. ‘Odium Caecum’ with its main riff and speed shows us a thrashier version of the band, while I could say that ‘Tsar Bomba’ is a radio-friendly song with its nice melodies and catchy chorus. ‘Lamashtu’ is one of the album’s darkest songs with atmosphere that really blends nice with the lyrics about the Ancient Mesopotamian female demon. ‘Sacrosanct’ starts with a riff that reminded me of Testament, before it turns to a typical Death/Black Metal song. ‘Pesta’ is one of the highlights with high speed riffs and beautiful melodies. ‘Requiem for a Dying Sun’ is the weakest song of the album, a bit boring and  with some pointless keyboards, but ‘Crown of Horns’ and ‘From the Great Above to the Great Below’ restore the order. Closing track ‘Undergången’ is a short instrumental.

The album’s sound is clear and dynamic without being overproduced and it reminds me a lot of their 90’s sound. It was produced, mixed and mastered by their ex-guitarist Fredrik Folkare, so it’s natural for him to know exactly what the band wanted.

Necrophobic offer us another quality album., which has all the elements that made them special in the genre. Their main characteristic is that they depend strictly on guitars in order to create their ‘satanic’ vibe without the use of keyboards/choirs/symphonic parts and other unnecessary gimmicks. I really hope we’ll see them again for a live show in Greece and this time with a much larger audience present (it’s frustrating for bands of their caliber to play in front of just 80-90 people).

Highlights: ‘Mark of the Necrogram’, ‘Lamashtu’, ‘Pesta’, ‘From the Great Above to the Great Below’.

5.5/6