Necrophobic- In the Twilight Grey (Album Review)

March 15, 2024


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Necrophobic has been on something of a resurgence for the last five or six years, as their recent lineups has taken the sweeping nature of their melodic black/death metal and refined it to a razor-sharp level.  While the group’s thirty-five-year career has avoided some of the drastic missteps some of their peers struggled with at points in the 2000s, they have had some ups and downs as well as a slew of lineup changes.  Since 2020’s Dawn of the Damned Necrophobic has been through another shift, with bassist Allan Lundholm departing and Darkened’s Tobias Cristiansson taking over, but that hasn’t kept the veteran band from continuing to do what they do best.  This year’s In the Twilight Grey offers that familiar blend of darker melodies and denser, aggressive riffing, but it also throws a few curveballs.  It does take a bit more time to sink in than its predecessor and feels a tad bit too long, but this is still another immense effort from one of Sweden’s most consistent black/death metal acts.

Unleashed’s Fredrik Folkare has served as producer on Necrophobic’s material for close to two decades, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that In the Twilight Grey boasts the same polished and full sound that has been a hallmark of their discography.  Opener “Grace of the Past” kicks things off with an ominous melody and softer drum work but explodes into a flurry of fast paced guitar and pounding drums that continue to nail that mix of melodic and destructive.  Early on the band hits listeners with as much intensity as possible, as songs like “Clavis Inferni” and “Stormcrow” lean into the black metal side of the spectrum with scorching guitar work and soaring melodic leads that are on par with some of the best Necrophobic has to offer, and the latter even heads into some slight heavy metal influence towards the end.  But the group has branched out a bit more than before, especially on the second half.  “Cast in Stone” initially has a rhythmic cadence that leans more into melodic death metal, while “Nordanvind” slows things down considerably and really lets the darker atmosphere expand.  There’s a bit more diversity to the writing when compared to Mark of the Necrogram or Dawn of the Damned, though this did make the album take a bit longer to fully sink in as there isn’t quite the same immediate hooks and additional time was needed for the nuances of each song to become clear.  But over the course of the last few days the riffs really started to take hold and kept me coming back.  The other flaw is the pacing at the end, as placing two lengthier songs like “Nordanvind” and the title track back-to-back does make things drag a bit.  But these are fairly minor complaints for what is otherwise a strong showing from beginning to end.

I mentioned this in my review of Dawn of the Damned and it still holds true here, as Anders Strokirk rejoining the band in 2014 has really made their recent output that much stronger.  His raspy screams add that aggressive edge to the material even as the instrumentals head into melodic territory, and there’s a sense of power to his performance that remains genuinely impressive.  There are also some backing pitches that stand out on songs like “Shadows of the Brightest Night”, where the back and forth between the raspy and slightly lower pitched ranges stands out.  Admittedly there are some times where the sheer density of the instrumentation starts to swallow up the screams, but Strokirk always manages to break back through as the songs reach their peaks.  The pitches may stick around the same range for much of the album, but Necrophobic makes the most of it with plenty of intense passages.

With an increased emphasis on longer, sprawling songs in between the shorter bursts, Necrophobic’s latest took a bit more time to click with me compared to Dawn of the Damned.  But once it did, it became clear that this group is three for three when it comes to their recent output.  In the Twilight Grey incorporates a few other elements from across the extreme metal spectrum without getting away from the band’s core melodic black/death metal approach, and there’s a lot to discover across repeat listens.  Considering they’ve been around for this long, to be putting out top tier releases for their past three full lengths is impressive and shows there’s no need for them to slow down any time soon.  In the Twilight Grey is available from Century Media Records.

-Review by Chris Dahlberg