Daniel Cece

Hot Off the Press: Necrophobic - "In the Twilight Grey"

Music Scene Media
Mar 22, 2024
4 min read
Album Art via Century Media Records

Rarely does a band not only remain active for over three decades but continue to release new records that suggest the members are just as inspired and motivated as they were when they crafted their older material, especially given how much a band/artist transforms and matures musically over that span of time. Necrophobic is my latest find within the Black Metal genre – better late than never, considering their debut LP, The Nocturnal Silence, was released in 1993 and there have been nine full-length albums released since then (among 3 additional EPs). For being over a full hour of music, In the Twilight Grey does not get stale or mundane at any point, which is largely attributed to how the songs are structured as well as the inherent memorability of the riffage from song to song. There is an abundance of noteworthy melodies that start appearing right from the first track that drives the songs forward without becoming overly repetitive despite there being a relatively consistent tempo and percussion format throughout the run time. Usually with straightforward albums like this, there aren't as many nuances to unpack, but Necrophobic has packed enough into In the Twilight Grey to set it apart from a traditional Black Metal or even Blackened Death Metal release.

The primary aspect of In the Twilight Grey that stands out even upon just the first listen is the dynamic atmosphere that shifts at a moment's notice, as if to reveal a previously concealed landscape of which the instrumentation is the designated soundtrack. Many of the songs' intros serve as minacious, sinister augurs that set the respective auras for what follows, as a wolf's howl coupled with an icy breeze would on a night soon to be totally eclipsed by darkness. Necrophobic assembles their pieces poetically, capturing the essence of the environment, narrative, or mood they're intending to convey, utilizing each section purposefully to shape their message as a writer would with a stanza or an artist with their chosen color shade. There is a depth present within these tracks that goes beyond standard songwriting, something that took me several listens to truly start to appreciate. They beckon and bellow amongst each other, an army of shadowy apparitions birthed solely to recount the tales of the balefully beguiling and treacherously fantastical world they inhabit.

It is clear that the members of Necrophobic put the art first in every respect and understand not just how to position the various layers of their music in relation to one other compositionally, but also why each one fulfills certain criteria necessary to meet a desired end goal. In other words, imagine an allegory or anecdote read out of order, or with improper wording that fails to encode the events as they happened in the way they happened; it simply wouldn't be the same story and the intended message inside the writer's mind would suffer as a result. Mastering this concept is one of the main core pillars that, in my opinion, constitutes true artistic actualization and is often found in pieces that are considered "timeless". I was not expecting to find it in a random Black Metal (or "Blackened Death Metal" as I've seen it described) album that I happened to stumble upon by chance – a reliably pleasant surprise that comes from discovering unique, quality music. With over 30 years of experience behind their craft, Necrophobic has withstood the tests of sustained creative progression and sheer time that have refined them into the distinguished, polished, and idiosyncratic outfit they are today.

In the Twilight Grey is a prime example of what can be produced when bands get comfortable with the balancing act of going outside traditional genre norms while having the musical maturity to strip away the impractical or superfluous layers that would actually take away from their signature sound rather than evolve it. Sure, many of the chords and riff structures throughout the entire album have the embodiment of pure, unadulterated Black Metal – there is no shortage of those iconic dissonant, harmonic minor scales/keys complete with all the tremolo picking and eerie symphonic undertones that are sure to make any "trve kvlt" fan's day (mine included). However, unlike many other bands and albums in the Black Metal genre, Necrophobic doesn't limit themselves to only reinventing those standard and expected tropes or staying within comfortable boundaries that likely would have limited their potential this late in their career. Conversely, branching out too far or too consistently from a band's source material poses a huge risk to an artist's career by potentially turning their existing fans away completely.

In the Twilight Grey is a prime example of what can exist in the center of this proverbial Venn diagram: A record that is respectable in its niche, traditionalistic, and archetypal tendencies as well as its unapologetic, yet prudent, deviation from the norm. Music that meets these criteria scratches a particular itch that comes about when one, such as myself, develops a craving for something that has a recognizable familiarity (without being generic) along with consistent refreshing irregularities to break up expectations and throttle repetition. It is a fair assessment to say that this is the case across nearly the entirety of the record – regardless of if you start from the very beginning and consume the full runtime as one single long piece or select individual tracks at random. I advise the former, as In the Twilight Grey is deserving of undivided attention from front to back; the space between songs carries a subtly impactful transition, sometimes with just silence alone.

In the Twilight Grey is a melodically gritty ode to all that is onerous, foreboding, and obscure, as equally in thought as in action. It pushes the listener forward, step by step, through desolation both spiritual as well as emotional. The ashen palate referred to as "Twilight Grey" and the many shades within its otherwise unassuming neutrality are manifested throughout the album's entirety, each song another hue along its eventide gradient as it descends unstoppably and hopelessly into nightfall. Necrophobic embraces this liminal space and invites listeners to pull back the veil themselves to join alongside them. It embraces a beauty whose home lies not between the polarities but outside them. In their own words, "Fear not the dark", and find your place In the Twilight Grey.

FFO: Uada, Marduk, Belphegor, Abbath, 1349, Satyricon, Cradle of Filth, Watain

Overall Rating: 10/10

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