Necrophobic – Dawn of the Damned Review

I’m not exactly sure how responsibility for this review survived its fall down the AMG Seniority Ladder™ to find its way to little old me, but I’m certainly glad it did. Necrophobic holds a special place in my heart. Not only did my enjoyment of the band’s previous release Mark of the Necrogram begin my quest to discover and love black metal, but I still remember reading Al Kikurasincredible review of said album. It was the first time that I seriously considered how cool it might be to write reviews for AMG. A few months after the release of Mark of the Necrogram, I was thoroughly enjoying the new Immortal album — the first pure black metal album I ever loved — and I was answering the casting call to write for this site. So, to say that Necrophobic has impacted the trajectory of my life as a music fan and/or journalist would be an understatement. Thus, expectations were high when I pressed play on 2020’s Dawn of the Damned, and I honestly feared that they couldn’t be met.

What the hell was I worried about? As far as I’m concerned, just change the band’s name to Necrop4.0bic and be done with it. These guys are on an absolute tear when it comes to releasing quality metal, and Dawn of the Damned sees them solidifying their melodic blackened death style even further while bolstering it with even more melody than before. 2018’s Mark of the Necrogram contained the king of bangers, “Tsar Bomba,” and the embedded “Mirror Black” is both its stylistic and spiritual successor on Dawn of the Damned. The song begins with some eerie, ringing whammy bar squeals which are then joined by some orchestral swells and restrained rock drumming, and it lures you into a false sense of security, a sense that is soon shattered by the trvest of black metal and the emergence of Anders Strokirk’s venomous vocals. Much like “Tsar Bomba” before it, “Mirror Black” uses melodeath riffs to create an almost unbelievable feeling of accessibility despite the track’s undeniable wickedness.

Initially, it was the shorter tracks like “Mirror Black” that won me over on Dawn of the Damned. “Tartarian Winds” and “Dawn of the Damned” initially reigned supreme, the former delivering ferocious meloblack and melodeath in equal measure and the latter delivering some absolutely delicious groove. A couple of weeks back, I described Blackevil as a type of blackened Iron Maiden. Well, if that’s true, then Necrophobic is a blackened Judas Priest. “The Shadows” actually sounds like it could be a black metal version of a Painkiller-era Priest song, and the amount of high-flying guitar histrionics displayed on that track and elsewhere show Johan Bergebäck and Sebastian Ramstedt faithfully paying homage to Tipton and Downing. And it was this axe work that allowed the longer songs to eventually win me over. “The Infernal Depths of Eternity” contains a sinister take on a big, fat Amon Amarth tremolo riff and finishes on a triumphant note with some beautifully melodic guitars playing over militant drums, while “The Return of a Long Lost Soul” is a powerful epic that builds to an absolutely insane dueling guitar outro. Both tracks clock in at over seven minutes, and I can honestly tell you that they’re worth every second.

Necrophobic seem to have found a winning production formula as the modern sound found on Necrogram has carried over to Dawn of the Damned, gaining a little weight along the way. I found the bottom end on this album to be intoxicating as the pounding drums and immense guitar tone fueled my commute, my workouts, and my yard work this week. I really don’t have any negatives to discuss about the record. “As the Fire Burns” feels a little less powerful than its neighbors, but it’s still a very good track. Closer “Devil’s Spawn Attack” feels a bit like a bonus track with its vicious and concise blackened thrash attack and guest vocal spot from Destruction‘s Schmier, and that feeling is aided by the fact that penultimate number “The Return of a Long Lost Soul” would end the album on a perfect note. But you really can’t go wrong with a single song on here. Check out “Mirror Black,” “Tartarian Winds,” “The Infernal Depths of Eternity,” “The Return of a Long Lost Soul,” or the title track if you have any doubts, poser.

Not-so-spoiler alert: Dawn of the Damned will be in my top 10 come year’s end, and it will be surrounded by many a blackened thing. The existence of such a list will only be possible because Necrop4.0bic served as my gateway into the realm of black metal, and I’m happy to report that their powers are only growing stronger with age.


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Century Media Records
Websites: necrophobichhr.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/necrophobic.official
Releases Worldwide: October 9th, 2020

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