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When Necrophobic were formed back in 1989, the Swedish outfit's original members probably didn't think about the possibility of the band still being around 17 years later. But sure enough, Necrophobic proved to be quite durable and did, in fact, celebrate their 17th anniversary in 2006. That said, they didn't exactly keep the same lineup for 17 years; along the way, Necrophobic have experienced countless personnel changes -- and different lineups have yielded different sounds. On Hrimthursum, Necrophobic's late-2005/early-2006 lineup favors a death metal/black metal blend that is as vicious, dense, and harsh as it is ominous. Some listeners have described this 59-minute CD as "blackened death metal," and the black metal elements (blastbeats, ominous harmonies, sinister rasp vocals) are undeniably prominent even though Necrophobic have not forsaken death metal by any means. Some of the extreme vocals veer into death metal-style growling, but the black metal rasp is more prominent this time -- and to Necrophobic's credit, the lyrics are generally understandable. All too often, death metal and black metal vocalists make lyrics difficult or impossible to understand; that is a very common complaint about extreme metal, but for the most part, it is not a problem on Hrimthursum. Another thing that this release has going for it is a certain hookiness; the sledgehammer material tends to have a rhythmic quality that lends itself to having a lot of noteworthy hooks. Clearly one of Necrophobic's stronger releases, Hrimthursum doesn't point death metal or black metal in any new directions, but it is a solid effort that is worth hearing if one is in the mood for a dose of blistering sensory assault.

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