Candlelight Records 2006

One of the old School death metal masters who still fly the flag high for Stockholm styled Swedish death metal, Necrophobic are master craftsmen when it comes to creating ominous and fear inducing blackened death metal.  Hrimthursum starts out with an operatic and ultimately forgettable intro which gives way to Blinded by Light, Enlightened by Darkness and its trademark Stockholm melodic riffing which is much darker and imbued with a heaviness completely lost to their Gothenburg brethren.  A prime example of what I mean is the opening passages of I Strike with Wrath with its entrancing melody that recalls the heyday of the early Stockholm scene with such masters as Dismember, Entombed, Grave, and so on.  Granted Necrophobic has added some mild black metal stylings and a little more melody than on the Unholy Prophecies demo or on their debut full length Nocturnal Silence.  But even after all these years, Necrophobic is still recognizable as themselves.  Another sign of their development is the variety of the material on display here, from the unstoppable onslaught of Eternal Winter to the Med-tempo masterpiece of the title track with its operatic female vocals and acoustic guitar that become subsumed by a tidal wave of melodic guitar leads.   The production here is not has bottom end heavy as I might have expected but the clarity and razor-sharpness of all the instruments is preserved by the able hands at the House of Voodoo studio.  Tobias Sidegard's vocals are gruff yet understandable and at times they remind me of Johnny Hedlund of Unleashed from his early work especially on the shouted midtempo vocal lines on Age of Chaos.  Necrophobic has been around in the Swedish scene since the early days and I feel they have been overlooked to some degree which in my eyes is a crime since they have brought and maintained a level of darkness and songmanship that many others have lacked.  Hrimthursum is possibly their best work since Nocturnal Silence in my ears.