Monday, December 31, 2012

Necrophobic - Unholy Prophecies (1991)

Necrophobic's third demo, Unholy Prophecies, was recorded in Sunlight Studios and released in early 1991. As with the last tape, it includes three news songs, all of them later appearing on the band's first full-length. Though only one year had passed, there are several noticeable changes, this time around. There are new members and a somewhat different approach to the songwriting, making this a bit of an odd recording, so some extent.

Musically, the style seems to possess more similarities to the other bands in the Swedish Death Metal scene. There are less Thrash riffs, with more emphasis on the typical mid-paced riffs that were being used by a lot of bands around this time. "Sacrificial Rites" even begins with a slower section that really works against the rest of the song, thankfully left off when they recorded The Nocturnal Silence. The songs are definitely slower than on the previous demo, though not without some fast moments. David Parland's lead solos are still the highlight of the music, as the nocturnal vibe conveyed by these melodies really adds to the atmosphere and leaves you wanting more. The new vocalist is not so different from the previous one, so the same guttural style is employed here and is nothing particularly special. His voice suits the music, but a raspier approach would have accentuated the darker feeling a bit more. This was proven to be true by is replacement. Also, this appears to be the beginning of the band's use of Satanic and occult themes in the lyrics.

The production is very typical for Sunlight Studio, and this is really the only time that Necrophobic had this kind of guitar tone. In a sense, this works against the band, as it makes them sound like nearly every other band coming out of Sweden at the time. Everything is very thick and the sharp edge from Slow Asphyxiation is completely lost. Only occasionally do guitar melodies cut through this and rise above the fog, so to say. It's not entirely bad, but Necrophobic's style was different enough from many of their peers and this should have been capitalized on. Instead, this recording almost seems to try forcing them into the same mould as the rest.

Unholy Prophecies is a decent offering of old school Swedish Death Metal, and definitely fits in with a lot of the other releases that were coming out of there at the time. However, it fails to really showcase the full potential of Necrophobic as the songwriting and production do little to make the band stand out. In fact, it seems to be working toward the opposite effect. If you want to hear quality Death Metal and have an interest in the band's early period, this is definitely worth checking out. However, these songs are only a shadow compared to how they would sound on The Nocturnal Silence.