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Necrophobic is al sinds het begin van de jaren 90 een sterkhouder binnen de Zweedse scene. Zowel in death metal als black metal kringen kan de band op veel aanhang rekenen. En dat terwijl het in de bezetting regelmatig rommelt. Maar het nieuwe album ’Mark Of The Necrogram’ is weer een knaller van jewelste. Daarmee is het ook de hoogste tijd om gitarist Sebastian Ramstedt even aan de tand te voelen over het wel en wee rondom deze black/death act.

Door: Pim B. | Archiveer onder death metal / grindcore

Hey guys. Good to have you back with another outstanding album ‘Mark Of The Necrogram’. Quite a few things happened since the period when you released ‘Womb Of Lilithu’ back in 2013. So, I’d like to get into that first. So, let’s start with the position on vocals. Around the time of the release of your previous album Tobias Sidegård left, which had something to do with his personal life and a court case. He had been the voice of Necrophobic for quite some time, so was it a hard decision to part ways?
Yeah, it's always hard to part ways with members. I will not get into details around Tobias but when it was clear that he had to leave the band the remaining members had to look forward. I think this did hurt the band a lot at the time. It would have affected the band in a negative way whatever choice they would have made. I was not in the band at the time but I know I would have found these decisions very difficult.

In 2014 you found a replacement in Anders Strokirk, who already did lead vocals on your first EP ‘The Call’ and first full-length ‘The Nocturnal Silence’. Was it easy to get him back in the band? It seems his other bands either quit (Mykorrhiza) or aren’t doing much (Blackshine).
Yeah! He was the obvious choice! He was the original singer on the first LP and he did stay close to the band all these years. He even appeared live a couple of times as guest vocalist during the years when he was not with us. Blackshine was put on ice and Mykorrhiza was never more than a project. Lucky for us he was up for the job with full force!

Anders’ vocal delivery is quite vicious. Did he need a lot of time to get back in shape for Necrophobic?
His voice was in perfect shape! Not only did he do the ‘Nocturnal Silence’ songs just as good as back in the days. His voice also fits the songs we did without him perfectly. He is fucking perfect. We are more than pleased with his work on the new album. I don't think anyone will complain. He has got the raspy harshness of the ‘Hrimthursum’ and ‘Death To All’ years with the power and bottom of the early days around ‘The Nocturnal Silence”.

Let’s move on to the guitars. Sebastian, you and Johan Bergebäck have returned. Can you explain why you weren’t on the previous album and why you have returned? I assume you focused on Black Trip at that time?
Johan and I left the band in the end of 2010. The tension within the band was very hard and we had been working very intense for many years. When we were planning the next release after ‘Death To All’ things started to fall apart. I had written three songs (which are on the new album) and the band wanted to go into different directions. I felt that I could not compromise on this and decided to take a break from it all. Johan followed me. We did not quit but the rest of the band decided to move forward with new guns. So Johan and I did focus on Nifelheim and later Black Trip instead. I always felt that something was missing though and when Joakim asked if we would return the answer was easy. The years apart gave us a better understanding of the personalities and different forces in the band. Today everything works better. There are less fights and we focus on bringing this battleship forward instead of firing at each other.

Sebastian, you took care of most of the song writing for the new album and therefore it seems this album is more in line with ‘Death To All’. Your former album ‘Womb Of Lilithu’ was mainly written by your then guitarist Fredrik Folkare. I think he did a great job as the album does sound like a Necrophobic album. When you look back now, do you feel this album is simply part of your legacy or do you feel it somehow sticks out a bit?
Fredrik is a fantastic musician and songwriter. The album is great but it is different. I feel that the new album is the continuation of ‘Death to All’. ‘Womb…’ will be a side track. But a good one. But the album does not represent this band any longer. I think there are three different versions of Necrophobic. The first two albums mainly written by David Parland. The four middle ones and the new one where I have been the main driving force and ‘Womb…’ where the music is entirely written by Fredrik. It is a bit different from most bands since the three main songwriters never wrote anything together or even were in the band at the same time. Joakim Sterner has been the filter though. It is his quality control that makes sure that we don’t walk astray from what is Necrophobic.

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Was it easy for Fredrik to step back once you and Johan returned? Fredrik still somewhat is part of the band it seems since you recorded ‘Mark Of The Necrogram’ at his Chrome Studios. Can you tell a bit more about his role on this album and how it was recording the complete album in his studio?
Fredrik took this very good. He has been a very important part for Necrophobic ever since ‘Hrimthursum’ when he started to produce our music. He is as important to our sound as anyone else of us. I'm very pleased that he chose to continue his work with us. I have not sensed any hard feelings at all during the work with the new album. I must admit I was a bit worried that there would be an elephant in the room! Haha! It is very smooth working in his studio. But we were extremely well prepared. We had made demos of all the songs and all the arrangements were set. So we were only in the studio for 2 weeks this time. We gave him some sound references and asked him to come up with a sound. And he was right at first attempt. I think he got exactly what we aimed for.

Enough about the line-up changes. When we heard back from Necrophobic when the ‘Pesta’ 7” was released I noticed you once again switched labels. The cooperation with Season Of Mist only lasted for one album and now you are signed to Century Media. Can you tell a bit more about this transfer?
Since it is a completely new line-up since the last album we felt we needed a fresh start. Season Of Mist was kind enough to let us look for a new label and we were released on good terms. As Century Media showed attention that was an obvious choice. I can't think of another label capable of supporting us the way they do. We need a strong label to back us up so that we can focus on the music. The business side of music business can drain every drop of my creativity. C.M is a perfect partner in this as I fully trust them.

I mentioned the ‘Pesta’ 7” and I guess you released this as a kind of teaser to let people know you’re on a new label with a new album coming out? Is this version of the song ‘Pesta’ exactly the same as the version on the new album?
Yeah! It was a teaser to give our fans a glimpse of what we were up to. What this version of Necrophobic could deliver. There are new drums and added rhythm guitar to the LP version. Otherwise it is just the same. Same vocals, same leads.

The 7” is collectable due to the B-side track, which is a re-recorded version of ‘Slow Asphyxiation’ from the same titled demo you released in 1990. Can you tell a bit more about the decision to re-record this song and did you change a lot opposed to the original version?
This was actually an idea I had already in the late 90's. I think it is a too great song to be forgotten. It is a shame that it's just on the first demo. So I had an idea of recording this again but with both me, David Parland and Martin Halvdan doing a solo each. Letting the past guitarists return. The original idea was to have some vocals done by Stefan Zander who did the vocals on the demo. But years past. When we needed a B-side to Pesta I remembered the old idea. But during the years things had happened. David Parland committed suicide (RIP) and Stefan was not up for it. We decided to do a version that would fit the new line-up instead. I still think it’s a classic. It sounds like a new song but with the death metal roots that was so very present in the beginning of Necrophobic's journey.

Did you record any other songs besides the ones on the 7” and the new album? If so, can we expect anything cool soon?
No, but thinking of the timeframe we had from the reunion in December
2016 till the recording in October 2017 I think we worked pretty fucking hard. Now we have more time to do cool B-sides and stuff like that. We will see what the future holds!

’Mark Of The Necrogram’ turned out really great. But I want to finish this interview by asking you to tell our readers why they should buy a copy (there’s plenty of different formats, right?) and what Necrophobic has planned for the immediate future?
You will have to get this in every version or be an enemy of metal!!! haha! Now we are heading out on the roads!! See you out there!

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