Out February 23

(Century Media)

It’s been five long years since Necrophobic last gave us a full album: five years which have seen the band’s line-up reshaped around the rhythm section of  drummer Joakim Sterner and bassist Alex Friberg. Five years which had long-time fans wondering if the blackened death magic of Hrimthursum and Death To All could be recreated.

They needn’t have worried.

With vocalist Anders Strokirk now fronting the Swedes once again and six stringers Sebastian Ramstedt and Johan Bergebäck back in the ranks, this is a group of veterans skilled in the dark arts, an outfit adept at weaving pitch black melodies into their searing hellfire. Indeed, there’s a subtlety and intelligence to Ramstedt’s writing that the band seemed to miss on 2013’s Womb Of Lilithu: his contribution appears to have given Necrophobic the creative depth they needed to get back on track.

Highlights? There are plenty, but Tsar Bomba (named after the most powerful nuke ever detonated) should be one of the first songs on Necrophobic’s setlist: an infectious, lacerating battle hymn, it stands tall among their best work. The title track isn’t too far behind, blasting away with fierce intensity before a deft tempo change pulls the song into an infernal groove, and Lamashtu is an intriguing curveball, complete with piercing melodeath riffery.

Make no mistake, this is the sound of a band renewed, re-energised and ready to make their mark once again. Welcome back guys.