In Aphelion – Moribund Review

I’ve declared my undying love for Necrophobic (or Necrop4.0bic, as I affectionately refer to them) in the past, and I’ve described how their melodic blackened death sound was what paved the way for my burgeoning love of black metal. Mark of the Necrogram and “Tsar Bomba” left an indelible, five-pointed mark upon me, and I was absolutely delighted when follow-up Dawn of the Damned ended up being just as great or better. Between those two albums, I fell head over heels for the guitar playing of Johan Bergebäck and Sebastian Ramstedt, and I even went so far as to describe Necrophobic’s music as “blackened Judas Priest,” mostly because of that duo’s ability to infuse the band’s sound with classic heavy metal swagger. So you can imagine the violence of my excitement when I discovered that Bergebäck and Ramstedt had joined forces with Cryptosis drummer Marco Prij to form a pure black metal project named In Aphelion. Let’s see if my excitement was warranted.

I could save you from being subjected to my detailed thoughts on the band’s debut Moribund by summing this review up in one sentence, but I’m not that nice. But if I were, I’d simply say that if you love Necrophobic, you’re going to love In Aphelion. Ramstest adds vocals and bass to his lead guitar duties, while Bergebäck maintains the rhythm guitar, and their work here is just as captivating as it is in their more famous project. Just listen to the 7-minute embedded behemoth “Draugr,” and you’ll instantly hear the emotive guitars you’ve come to know and love on the most recent Necrophobic records. And then, after about a minute of intro—and on Ramstedt’s cue of “Fire!”—, all hell breaks loose. Prij’s incredible drumming joins the rhythm guitars, leading us on a winding journey of aggressive verses, frantic bridges, and grooving choruses, while Ramstedt vomits spiteful hate and peppers the track with beautiful leads and soaring solos.

Despite the optimism that In Aphelion’s lineup generated within me, I was apprehensive when I saw that Moribund was 58 minutes long. But my apprehension was annihilated during my very first play-through, as album highlight after album highlight smacked me upside the head in succession. No matter what speed these guys decide to travel, they slay. They take no prisoners on the blistering “Sorrow, Fire and Hate,” “He Who Saw the Abyss,” and Song o’ the Year contender, the intensely cathartic “Let the Beast Run Wild.” Mid-paced mayhem arrives on the relentless march of “Luciferian Age” and the twisting tremolo madness of “The Origin,” and the album’s closest thing to a ballad—and an excellent example of the “blackened Priest” sound—”This Night Seems Endless,” dazzles with an amazing display of lead guitar prowess by Ramstedt. The creepy title track is a combo of all the band’s speeds, and my nightly candlelit cold showers have been even more exciting than usual with it playing in the background.

I wish I could find fault with Moribund, but In Aphelion haven’t given me much to criticize. The production is a bit loud and could be clearer, but it’s perfectly adequate. Some of you goofballs may complain about the overall length or some of the track lengths, but I can tell you that after two dozen spins of this thing, everything belongs and everything kills. Sebastian Ramstedt has completely blown me away with his soloing on Moribund. He has so much control, and his playing has so much feeling, and it’s simply a wonder to behold. He’s easily become one of my favorite active guitarists. I’d give you highlights, but it would be the entire tracklist. Instead, I’ll mention the tracks that will be vying for Song o’ the Year in 2022: “Let the Beast Run Wild,” “This Night Seems Endless,” and “Requiem,” an epic closer that manages to bring some Necrophobic melodeath to the table.

With Moribund, In Aphelion have delivered one of the very best black metal albums I’ve ever heard. The guitar work and rhythmic diversity give the record a distinctly classic metal feel that has completely mesmerized me. Its power is so strong that when I had a three-hour drive out to the coast last week, and could have listened to anything I wanted, I chose to listen to Moribund three times in a row. I’ve heard a lot of great music this year, but In Aphelion have just leapfrogged the pack, cementing Moribund as my album to beat in 2022.

Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Edged Circle Productions
Releases Worldwide: March 11th, 2022

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