Monday, December 31, 2012

Necrophobic - Slow Asphyxiation (1990)

Formed in 1989 by David Parland and Joakim Sterner, Necrophobic was born around the same time as better-known bands such as Entombed, Unleashed and Dismember. However, the similarities between these bands were not that great, with Necrophobic taking a darker approach from the very beginning, even before eventually straying into Black Metal territory. The band's second demo, Slow Asphyxiation, was released in early 1990 and shows a band that has already developed into a force to be reckoned with.

Musically, the three songs on this demo do well to represent a mixture of various '80s influences. At times, this is almost reminiscent of the first Merciless album, with a decent amount of thrash riffs mixed in with the more traditional Death Metal passages. All of the tracks start out a little slower than the end up, building in intensity as they go along. The old Slayer influence is clearly heard throughout this demo, with hints of Mercyful Fate as well. The songwriting is very strong, especially considering that the band was still fairly new. The transitions are very smooth and every flows well. The riffs are very intense yet never getting to the point of being sloppy or out of control. The drumming does well to try to keep up with the speed of the guitar riffs, never falling behind or losing focus. Parland's solo work is amazing, showing the cold and nocturnal style that he would continue to develop, leading to the band's first full-length. The intro to the title track is particularly impressive and does well to create a dark atmosphere. This aspect really sets Necrophobic apart from many of their peers, and one has to wonder why they were not given more attention at the time. The mixture of Death and Thrash is done very well, creating a nasty and dark feeling. The vocals work well, too, being a bit on the deep side but not so much that anything is really lost. Zander's voice suits the music, despite not being on the same level as Anders Stokirk.

The production is not bad at all, really. It has a somewhat rough sound, but is clear enough for everything to be heard. Considering that it is a Death Metal demo from 1990, the sound is actually good. It isn't too far behind some of the full albums that were being released around the time. What some may notice is that it lacks the typical buzzsaw guitar tone that was developing in Sweden at the time. Naturally, the musical similarities between Necrophobic and others in the scene were not numerous.

Slow Asphyxiation is a solid slab of old school Death Metal and a good example of how this style branched off from Thrash. Rather than getting mixed up in the retro craze that has been going on for the last few years, with so many new bands popping up and trying to play this style, listeners would be well advised to first seek out the original demos and albums that were spawned in the old days. It is too bad that Necrophobic didn't manage to record a full-length sooner than they did, as they might have achieved wider recognition, which they absolutely deserved. The tracks from this demo are available on the Satanic Blasphemies compilation, so if you don't already own this cassette don't bother paying a fortune for it.