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In The Twilight Grey

Sweden Country of Origin: Sweden

1. Grace Of The Past
2. Clavis Inferni
3. As Stars Collide
4. Stormcrow
5. Shadows Of The Brightest Night
6. Mirrors Of A Thousand Lakes
7. Cast In Stone
8. Nordanvind
9. In The Twilight Grey
10. Ascension (Episode Four)


Review by Felix on March 26, 2024.

I don’t think that there exists such thing as a national character. Nevertheless I am convinced that the creator of Earth did not spread humour in big portions over Scandinavia. Otherwise there would not be this gigantic horde of black and death metal musicians who hail from the Northern end of the Old World. But no rule without exception, Necrophobic obviously belong to the more humorous guys. I have realized this in view of the advance tracks they released for In The Twilight Grey. Usually, we can be sure that the songs which should make us believe that they announce a gargantuan milestone of any band are among the three best tracks of the following full-lengths. But the pretty generic 'Stormcrow' with its nearly mediocre chorus and the pretty powerless centre part and especially the relatively harmless, somehow almost inadequately bombastic 'As Stars Collide' march to a different drummer. To me, they appeared like the harbinger of a medium-sized disappointment. Let me say it unambiguously: 'Stormcrow' is still a 7 out of 10 and 'As Stars Collide' deserves a 6.5 – but come on, we are speaking about Necrophobic, the legend that has given us divine gifts like 'Mirror Black', 'Sacrosanct' or 'Revelation 666', to name just a few examples.

But don’t panic, Necrophobic – and here I come back to the topic humour – just had fun confusing their followers. In The Twilight Grey does not disappoint, because there are a couple of excellent songs; they only have other titles than the aforementioned tracks. Anyway, before I try to describe the highlights as good as I can, I want to underline the very positive fact that the quintet has not changed its general approach. Haunting melodies are surrounded by vehement outbursts and the charismatic, little confidence inspiring voice of Anders Strokirk. One might think: okay, that’s fine, but other, stylistically comparable bands trust more or less the same recipe. I agree, but due to whatever reasons, Necrophobic’s music embodies a diabolic elegance which is second to none. Perhaps main composer Sebastian Ramstedt’s musical feeling is outstanding, maybe there is a special chemistry when these dudes come together, maybe it is the fact that they do not use primitive shock effects or overly raw elements. Anyway, In The Twilight Grey is another album that represents the devil in his deluxe edition. This lad is not interested in shedding hectolitres of blood, he kills softly with an actually gentle smile. And naturally he profits from a very good production. The voice and the guitars appear flawlessly in my humble opinion. Especially the guitar sound finds the perfect place between morbid beauty and metallic aggression. Thus, it is only a minor detail that the drums of the only constant member of the band, Joakim Sterner, were allocated in the back rows. Sometimes they drown in the inferno of the six strings. In particular the double bass becomes a victim of the guitar dominance. But once again, this does not mean that I have a serious problem with the mix. It’s just not as perfect as the best songs of the Swedes, that’s all.

Speaking of good songs, In The Twilight Grey enters its most exciting, completely fascinating and most gloomy section with the first tones of 'Shadows Of The Brightest Night'. The piece lets the listener walk on the edge of the abyss, always in danger of falling in the next second. Naturally I prefer its intensive high speed outbursts, but the entire track is a monument of dark grace. This song is the entry to a really hellish trip. Next stop: 'Mirrors Of A Thousand Lakes'. It does not have the overwhelming morbidity of the 'Mirror Black', it is not among the fastest eruptions of the formation and its solo houses almost dreamy tones. Nevertheless, the dudes have opened the door to the darkest corner of their souls again and the result is great. 'Cast In Stone' does not only present a great solo. It is a mix of strict high speed parts and 'Tartarian Winds' heaviness, while the lyrics of 'Nordanvind' speak for themselves: “Carry my dreams in your storms...the bells will ring, let the northern sky sing”. I don’t think that I have a better description for this atmospherically dense song. Be that as it may, the best is yet to come. The title track heralds the Apocalypse with its fiery verses before it comes to a more harmonic chorus. The song grows and it embraces the listener violently with its cataclysmic vibrations. It is impressive to experience once again that ultimate intensity and a fine sense for harmonies are not mutually exclusive in the world of Necrophobic.

The evil outburst called 'Clavis Inferni' is the only track which is able to compete with the songs on the positions from five to nine. Motivated by a strictly hammering snare drum, the song jumps head first into devastating guitar leads. Of course, Necrophobic vary the tempo in this sombre ambassador of Satan too. Nevertheless, it is one of the more powerful ones her. Maybe this is the (very) little problem of In The Twilight Grey: the red-hot inferno of some of their former, most violent songs, does not occur very often here. But for example the beginning and the end of 'Clavis Inferni' make clear that even the musically most competent band is well advised to put the focus on sheer aggression from time to time. By contrast, the opener (stormy sections, but a relatively lame part in its centre) is good, but not phenomenal. Maybe it has the potential to grow, but up to now it does not stand out and honestly, I thought that a murderous introduction is always an advisable thing. However, perhaps the selection of 'Grace Of The Past' for the first position just mirrors the strange humour of Necrophobic once more.

Rating: 8.6 out of 10

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Review by Vladimir on March 22, 2024.

There are a handful of bands whose game still remains strong even after 3 decades of their existence, without their creativity fading away and without their impact diminishing throughout time. In the Swedish metal scene, anything is possible to be everlasting as long as the commitment and effort doesn’t go to waste. Such is the case with the highly influential and brilliant black/death metal band Necrophobic, a band with such a strong reputation that doesn't have a single bad album in their entire discography, and yet they are still creating the same kind of magic that is just as fresh and satisfying as it was on their previous releases. Their last two albums Mark Of The Necrogram and Dawn Of The Damned were met with positive reviews from fans and critics, with both albums considered to be to be equally great and faithful to the band’s legacy. On March 15th, 2024, Necrophobic returned with their tenth full-length album In The Twilight Grey, marking their official third album with Anders Strokirk on vocals since his return in 2017 and the official first album with longtime session bassist Tobias Christiansson, who is now a full-time member of the band. Although their three previously released singles successfully managed to raise expectations and tease the upcoming album, the important question still remains: is it worth entering this realm entirely covered in twilight grey? Let’s find out....

Not a second of introduction or preparation and the album already starts off very strong with the first track 'Grace Of The Past' which is a good album opener that shows a great deal of promise that this will indeed be an authentic Necrophobic experience. From the very get-go you will be instantly welcomed by a plethora of badass riffs with plenty of tremolo picking, kick ass drumming by Joakim and harsh vocals of Anders Strokirk, that altogether dominate and burn like hellfire. What this album promises a lot is that there will be some awesome memorable bangers, some of which will leave the biggest impression. Perhaps the best example among those outstanding bangers is the phenomenal third track 'As Stars Collide', and I think it could easily be considered one of Necrophobic’s best songs with Anders Strokirk since 'Tsar Bomba'. The following track 'Stormcrow', which is yet another outstanding banger on this album, is somewhat of a nice stylistic hybrid with a bit melody, combining the band’s more death metal focused material that was on Nocturnal Silence with their finest blackened death metal moments from the later works such as Death To All and Mark Of The Necrogram. If you were on the lookout for some slightly more atmospheric moments on this album, don’t worry, because we’ve got those in here as well. The ominous 'Shadows Of The Brightest Night' and the epic 'Nordanvind' further expand this journey by making it more engaging, while also adding some elements of musical suspense. Throughout the entire album it’s non-stop banging and musical mayhem that turns everything to dust, building up to the grand finale of the album with the closing track 'Ascension (Episode Four)', that is an epic conclusion to the album, as well as a nice nod to their previous episodes 'Venaesectio', 'Descension' and 'Nifelhel' from Darkside in 1997.

As is the case with many of the band’s previous albums, they always make the songwriting feel dynamic and interesting, with plenty of moments that border with death metal, thrash metal and a bit of heavy metal, especially when it comes to the effective use of melody. Those who are familiar with the band’s signature sound and style will certainly not be disappointed with what this album has to offer, because it has everything that a Necrophobic fan such as myself would expect, down to every last bit. Overall, every song is packed with furious energy and some moments on this album feel like the entire band was super jacked on steroids while recording that they had to flex all their muscles without pulling back. You can simply tell that these guys were very enthusiastic and highly inspired during the making of the new album, as well as when they were recording it. Every riff, every bassline, every blast beat, every solo and every chorus in here is nothing but pure energy that obviously comes from the heart, without anything in their music or playing that could be considered untrue or forced in a desperate attempt to please the audience. The band gave their absolute 110% on this album and then added the “Midas Touch” by turning every idea into gold. Even when Necrophobic introduces some slower/mid-tempo moments in their songs, they can still make it sound heavy and evil at the same time, without breaking away from their established musical flow. Speaking of the overall musical flow, what I always loved about the band is that they always remained very faithful to their foundation, and here we see their stylistic consistency throughout the entire album being put to a good use and proving that they don’t need any fancy tricks or studio magic to make it as authentic as possible. The album flows so smoothly from section to section and from one track to another, even with their rich and dynamic songwriting that broadens the musical horizon. The album artwork by Jens Rydén (Thyrfing, ex-Naglfar) nicely depicts the musical essence of In The Twilight Grey album in physical form, which truly can’t be better depicted than a merciless reaper who turns all living things into ash as the hourglass on his enormous chain is ticking. As for the album’s sound production, it was once again done by Fredrik Folkare, and it is just as excellent as it was on all their previous releases starting from Hrimthursum in 2006, doing great justice to the band’s musical output and their signature sound.

For a long time since I’ve known them, Necrophobic has been one of those bands that has always been the definition of “true extreme metal for truly extreme metal fans”, while also being one of the bands that has never ever let me down with any of their previous albums. Even if I have enjoyed some of their albums less than others, I would still end up appreciating those works much later on, because I can still love it for what it is and enjoy it more than what many other bands, old or new, are doing at the moment. In the case of their new album In The Twilight Grey, they prove that they can still carry on and keep the everlasting flame burning for ages, gathering hordes of new fans to join them and march with pride under the mark of the Necrogram. It’s truly a magnificent album that succeeded to please the fan within me and exceed all my expectations. As a band who always sticks to their roots, never sold out for a wider audience and continued to produce such excellent material, I think that this album deserves to be rated a maximum 10 out of 10 for being an extraordinary piece of art. Let this album be an example that they have once again expanded their everlasting legacy for the world of black and death metal.

Rating: 10 out of 10

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Review by Michael on March 3, 2024.

The tenth full-length album by Swedish death/black metal legends comes with a cover from a new artist and with it they discontinued their interesting approach of visiting the Devil's Church. This time the cover reminds me more of “Paradise Lost” by the epic metal guys Cirith Ungol (no surprise with that title) but does this mean that Necrophobic have changed their style?

Well, generally not. They still have this rousing, highly catchy death/black metal mélange they did on their previous albums (okay, let's just forget Womb Of Lilithu which was, although not really bad, some kind of low light in their discography) that is based on the guitar work and the compositions by Sebastian Ramstedt who has become a real freak when it comes to guitar play and everything around the instrument. Anders Strokirks’́ vocals sound as frosty, sinister and powerful as ever but there’s also another little nuance to his performance. In some songs like the opener 'Grace Of The Past' he sometimes snorts out the words so that in my head manifests the picture of a fire breathing demon. This creates a very dark and evil atmosphere and is a stylistic device that works as great as hell, so to speak. And coming back to the guitar work on In The Twilight Grey, there is more classical heavy metal embedded into the songs than ever before. Whoever knows the guys, won't be too surprised because they have a huge penchant for classic heavy metal stuff from the 80s and so this is a logical step to incorporate some of these inspirations into their own music. This makes the songs much more diverse in comparison to their previous releases and with this they also offer a bigger target to attack. I can also imagine that some die-hard, trve death-black metal fans will have some issues with this more progressive songwriting because of not being 100% death-black. But in some moments there are also some more Bathory-like elements in so that the songs get a more blackish touch and like Joakim Sterner told me in the interview we did lately, with a track like 'Ascension (Episode Four)' they also go back into their past, namely to Darkside back from 1997.

I guess, one should review each of the ten songs to describe the album in full detail but this would burst the frame here, so I'll mention just a few to put into words how diverse In The Twilight Grey is. Let's start with 'As Stars Collide'. This is one of the most melodic and epic tracks Necrophobic ever did. The song is kept in a slow mid-tempo range with a repetitive chorus and galloping pace and reminds me pretty much of the Viking-era by the already mentioned Swedish black metal legend. 'Clavis Inferni' is a fast and furious death metal stomper with some more punkish vibes in the drumming. The chorus again is very catchy and stressed out by some fantastic and melodic guitar leads. Also the breaks incorporated are very intelligent and surprising. 'Shadows Of The Brightest Night' is one of my personal highlights, especially because of these palm-muted picks in the guitar play which is something they didn't use before. The song creates a very dense and threatening atmosphere and works out best in the dark (of course). And finally “Stromcrow” which was already released as first single in 2023 already is a typical Necrophobic death-black inferno again with a cool catchy chorus and an outstanding bridge part which has become super epic. This one will probably become a must-have when it comes to live shows.

So you can probably read in my words that the album has become a very interesting thing which wants to be discovered. In some parts it might be a little bit tricky to get access to it but like Joakim said, it's a “grower”.

Rating: 10 out of 10 Stormcrows

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