Album Title: Prophecies Of Eternal Darkness
Label: Season Of Mist
Date of Release: October 2021
I have been keeping an eye out on this band for quite some time for a couple of reasons. Firstly, as you’ll know by now, I’m a big fan of black metal, particularly the kind that isn’t afraid to add some melody or at least some audible musicality to their sonic palette. And, from what I’d heard from the odd song and snippets here and there, Necrofier seemed to very much fit the bill there. Secondly, the band, hailing from Texas, was put together in 2018 by Dobber Beverley, the drummer with Oceans Of Slumber and Insect Warfare before that, way back when. Oceans Of Slumber are one of my favourite bands of recent years and Insect Warfare are one of the only grindcore bands that I can actively listen to. The guy can seriously drum, so checking out Necrofier was a complete no-brainer as far as I was concerned.
Having released an EP, ‘Visions In Fire’ a while back, we are now presented with ‘Prophecies Of Eternal Darkness’, the much-anticipated debut full length, featuring the talents of Dobber Beverley alongside vocalist/guitarist Bakka Larson, guitarist Josh Bokemeyer, and bassist Mat Aleman.
Proudly declaring their love of old-school ‘classic’ metal, it is perhaps unsurprising to learn that ‘Prophecies Of Eternal Darkness’ is littered with many of these ingredients. Yes, this is black metal, and yes, it’s intentionally raw, blessed with a production to match. But it is black metal infused with strong riffing that isn’t solely an exercise in picking the strings as fast as possible. There are blasts, but there are plenty of slower beats intermingled with the double pedal barrages. There are also solos to be heard, as well as a touch of groove here and there. And crucially for this reviewer, the songs are largely memorable affairs, with melodies that are both pronounced and subtle adding the hooks to pull you back for repeated listens.
Dispensing with convention, I want to start with the fourth track on the album, ‘Return To Chaos’. Why? Because it’s my favourite track on ‘Prophecies Of Eternal Darkness’, and one of my favourite black metal songs of 2021 so far. It begins in unholy fashion, a dark menacing riff at the centre, that’s quickly joined by some of the fastest drumming on the record. Beverley lets rip here, as does one of the guitarists, sending a despairing wail into the darkness, whilst the rasping growl of Larson is genuinely venomous. Despite the early bombardment, the lead guitar work ensures that there is some measure of accessibility, albeit frosty and cold in feel. However, the final third of the song sees that classic melodic black metal transition into something more melodic and epic-sounding. The central focal point is a glorious, slow-paced, solemn lead guitar solo that is underpinned by relentless blast beats alongside a melodious riff. It all ensures a magnificent melodic black metal composition sits at the heart of this record.
‘Prophecies Of Eternal Darkness’ is not a lengthy album, coming in at around 35 minutes, spread across eight tracks. But the relative brevity ensures that the quality remains high throughout, with no fat in need of cutting from the carcass.
I love the slow, groovy introduction to ‘Death Comes For Us All’, complete with another well-placed lead solo, before all hell breaks loose and we hear some of the most uncompromisingly fast and savage material that Necrofier can muster. And yet, these passages are not relentless, being cleverly broken up with a return to slower, groovier, slightly doom-laden fare, or an occasional punctuation of clean guitars, meaning that when we are bludgeoned, the bruising feels that much more severe.
There’s a demonstrable thrash feel to ‘Unholy Hunger’, specially within the opening attitude-heavy riff, as well as vague, fleeting Gothic undertones unless my ears have deceived me.
Returning to the beginning of the album and ‘The Black Flame Burns’, this is another excellent composition. The lead guitar riffs are cold, but also have an air of familiarity about them, as if we are being transported back to Scandinavia during the mid-90s; there is a definite hint of Dissection et al within the riffing and lead guitar work, with solos being traded very nicely indeed. The solos don’t feel gratuitous or unnecessary, although a few ‘cvlt’ black metal purists might fundamentally disagree. I also like the more black ’n’ roll style riffs that are introduced towards the close of the song.
‘Darker Than the Night’ pushes ‘Return To Chaos’ close for the ‘best song’ accolade because it is another monster. Despite only just breaching the five-minute mark, it packs in an awful lot, but not in a way that feels clunky or ill-conceived. There are the ubiquitous blasts and fast-paced sharp riffing that are the staple diet of black metal, but juxtaposed with it are sections where a slower, doomy feel is introduced; these passages are full of malevolent atmosphere, whilst being impossible not to nod your head alongside. I feel like a broken record, but I really like the contrast between the slower mournful lead solos and the thrashier, faster wailing breaks. You’ve got to love the sound of tolling bells at the death too!
To offer something a little bit different to the preceding seven tracks, the closer ‘Plague Requiem’ dispenses with the savagery. In its place is a quasi-instrumental that is littered with vocal samples, of clergy, of a young woman, of other indecipherable voices. Underneath, initially, is a simple acoustic guitar melody and lots of other effects, such as the sound of the wind, and of waves. It’s an atmospheric, claustrophobic, and disturbing track that eventually dispenses with the acoustic guitar, replacing it with a simple but bold beat, alongside distorted chords. As the song concludes the sound of a screaming woman echoes, living long in the memory after the album has ceased.
For a debut record, despite the experience of the musicians involved, ‘Prophecies Od Eternal Darkness’ is an impressive beast. It strikes just the right balance between savagery and melody, whilst sounding traditional in many respects but remaining relevant in the modern world. The performances are assured and confident, the song writing is strong, and the whole thing reeks of quality. Believe me, Necrofier are the real deal and I personally hope that they’ll release much more music in the years to come.
The Score of Much Metal: 90%
Further reviews from 2021:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: