Thursday, November 29, 2007

Necrophobic - Darkside (1997)


Darkside is the second full-length album from Necrophobic. Recorded in 1996 and released in 1997, this classic album is one of the most overlooked masterpieces I've encountered. I discovered this album fairly late, picking it up in a local Stockholm record store, Sound Pollution, in the summer of 2003. It was after a short discussion with the guy working there that he recommended this album to me, especially since we shared a fondness for Dissection.

As "Black Moon Rising" begins, one hears that the Satanic Death Metal sound from The Nocturnal Silence has evolved into something more dark and sinister. The guitars are more piercing, the tempo is faster and the sound is all around more raw and dark. Bassist, Tobias Sidegård, had replaced Anders Strokirk as the vocalist, and the result was a much higher pitched, raspier sound. This is Swedish Black Metal at its best.

"Spawned By Evil" continues the frenetic pace, and it's not until "Bloodthirst" that it slows down, somewhat. The songwriting of David Parland (aka Blackmoon of Dark Funeral, Infernal, War) is very identifiable and is one of the best things about the album. This version is a little more refined than the one from the Spawned By Evil E.P.

The instrumental pieces, "Venaesectio", "Descension" and "Nifelhel" do a great job in adding to the atmosphere, and they are spread throughout the album. This album, more than any other I've heard, really seems like a tribute to the night; to the full moon, blood, darkness and evil. The guitar sound is not only cold, it also carries a very nocturnal feel to it. This can also be seen on The Secrets of the Black Arts, but I think it is much more successful here.

The title track, "Darkside", is one of the standout tracks on this album and possesses a great feel. It begins somewhat fast but then maintains a more mid-paced tempo throughout much of the song. The solo work is very well done and fits in with the music very well, working to accentuate the riff rather than some throwaway solo that serves no purpose.

Then, we have "The Call." This begins with a slow, quiet part that builds the atmosphere and produces images of nocturnal rituals of solitude. The pace picks up and the sinister rasps of Tobias Sidegård carry well. By the middle of the song, we have a very oldschool drumbeat behind the main riff, which sounds as if it could have come from a Mercyful Fate album. An instrumental track separates this from "Nailing the Holy One", which features Jon Nödtveidt trading off vocal lines with Tobias. Vocally, they are both pretty similar, yet still manage to compliment one another well and to convey a great hatred for Christianity here. Oddly enough, the mid-paced riff that begins this song is one of the rare Death Metal moments, before transitioning back to the fast tremolo riffing found all over the rest of the album. This may well have been one of Jon's final studio performances before going to prison.

"Nifelhel" has a nearly hypnotizing effect, as the feeling one gets from gazing up at the full moon on a cold winter night, for hours on end. By the time the album closes out with "Christian Slaughter", you feel that you have not just listened to something, you have experienced it. While some could make comparisons to Dissection and Dark Funeral (mainly due to the guitar tone/songwriter and little else), this really stands on its own. It shares small similarities in sound, technique and atmosphere, yet creates something here that I find to be wholly unique. This is cold Nocturnal Black Metal, and it is something that I recommend very highly, especially to fans of old Dissection. Standout tracks include: "Black Moon Rising", "Darkside", "The Call"....really, all of them...