Necrophobic - No Fear of Death

Interview By Dr. Abner Mality

I was severely beaten about the head and upper body by "Hrimthursum", the new album from Swedish blackened deathbringers Necrophobic. I was familiar with them before, but in no way did I expect the titanic onslaught that was "Hrimthursum". Incidentally, that tongue-twisting title comes from Norse means "frost giant". The frost giants were the implacable enemies of Odin, Thor and the other Norse gods.

Much like its namesake, "Hrimthursum" causes huge destruction but retains a cold and ominous feeling. A better mixture of death metal thunder, black metal malevolence and huge symphonic bombast has never been heard by these ears! Every aspect of the album balances out perfectly, leading to a work that is complex yet easy to absorb.

I braved the frozen wastes of Nifelheim to speak with Necrophobic axe-slinger Sebastian Ramstedt about the band and their history...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: First, to get the obvious out of the way first, give us a brief rundown of the band history and let us know if there have been any recent changes in the band.

Sebastian Ramstedt: We formed as a three piece in 1989 with Joakim Sterner, David Parland and Stefan Sander and our first album in 1993 was "The Nocturnal Silence". Our line-up has remained stable since 2000, with Tobias Sidegård-vocals/bass, Sebastian Ramstedt-lead guitar, Johan Bergebäck-rythm guitar, and Joakim Sterner-drums.

WC: The new CD "Hrimthursum" is an amazing step up from all past Necrophobic works. What inspired you to make such an epic piece of art?

SR: I always wanted to write a concept album inspired by the first verses in the "Divine comedy". These thoughts developed into a more northic theme about the frost giants that roamed the lands at the dawn of time. When we started to work on the music we felt that the songs would be a bit longer and more atmospheric than before but it was important for us to not lose the power and attack of our previous work.

WC: The word "Hrimthursum" means "frost giants". Is the album a concept album dealing with Norse mythology? Are the tracks linked or is everything separate?

SR: Everything is separate but the lyrics were written during a very short period of time so they kind of fit toghether more than before. We also talked a lot about the "concept" so there's a bit of it in every song. But it should not be seen as a concept album.

WC: What is Necrophobic's philosophical base? Is the band pagan, Satanic, atheistic or are the lyrics strictly for entertainment?

SR: It´s a bit of everything you mentioned. It´s important that the lyrics fit the music but when you have the opportunity to put out an album, you also want to say something. You have to write about things that have got a meaning to you instead of just putting down empty words. The lyrics mirror our personalities and the darker side of our minds.

WC: The CD is incredibly successful in using symphonic and classical elements. What classical musicians did you utilize for "Hrimthursum" and how challenging was it to integrate classical elements into your aggressive material?

SR: He..he.. except for the vocal parts, it' s made with a keyboard(Amazing! It sounds absolutely huge!--Dr. Mality). We wanted to give the songs a wider sound so it felt natural to use symphonic elements. We don´t use it to hide bad riffs but we try to make the best of every song.

WC: To me, Necrophobic is a band that straddles a lot of extreme metal genres like death, black and thrash metal. Do you ally yourself to any one particular genre or is everything fair game?

SR: We play Unholy Death Metal but all those elements are in our music. We will probably never put out a pure Heavy Metal album but it's OK to have heavy metal parts in the songs.

WC: How did you guys sign with Regain Records and how has the relationship with them been so far?

SR: I don´t remember how it started but so far everything has been just great.

WC: What do the words "Sitra Ahra" mean and what is that track about? It sounds like an invocation of chaos magick?

SR: Sitra Ahra is "hell". And it's kind of an invocation to bring you there. We wanted a chanting chorus that had this ritual feeling over it. It´s actually one of the few songs that came out from a pure rock n roll jam.

WC: A lot of the music on "Hrimthursum" evokes the imagery of Ragnarok, the end of the Gods. It's a very apocalyptic CD. Do you think the end of mankind is approaching?

SR: No, but I think the end of religious beliefs are coming some day. As people get enlightened ,they start to think and people who think stop believing in stupid fairytales.

WC: How do you see Necrophobic evolving from here on out? Will you increase the symphonic elements or will the next effort from the band be stripped down?

SR: I don´t know. There's no use doing the exact same thing again. The new songs that we work on are a bit shorter but you never know in the end. I think Hrimthursum set a new standard for our songwriting and I think everything will just improve from there.

WC: What are the band's touring plans and do you think you will be playing in America anytime soon?

SR: There will be a European tour this autumn and maybe South America next year. So far we haven´t heard anything about gigs in the States but it would be great.

WC: What do you think the future of Swedish heavy metal is? Things seem to be cooling down after many years of hot

SR: I Think Death Metal is getting big again. It seems like the Black Metal comunity is changing into some kind of goth hybrid while death metal is getting stronger. I hope that the power metal years soon will end.

WC: If you could ask any three musicians, live or dead, to dinner, who would they be?

SR: Steve Harris, Adrian Smith, Dave Murray. (Dinner would be catered by Eddie, I'm sure!--Doc)

WC: What was the last CD you listened to for your own enjoyment?

SR: "Infernal Overkill" by Destruction. Amazing album...

WC: What was the last gig you saw just because you wanted to check it out?

SR: Dio was the last show I went to and paid. Great show. Dio is better than ever.

WC: Has Necrophobic ever had any "Spinal Tap" moment (crazy gigs, things going wrong on the road) that they'd like to share with our readers?

SR: Tobias once broke the back of his leather pants while making satanic poses on stage. It was kind of hard to remain in focus after that.

WC. Any final words for the faithful?

SR: Stay true to metal, fight 'til death!!

Necrophobic's Official Website