Jersey Beat Music Fanzine

by Rich Quinlan

Black metal is most often associated with lands replete with fjords, gnomes, and rain, but one the best bands of the genre hails from Texas, a state that has endured a summer of almost daily triple digit heat. Christian Larson is the vocalist, guitarist, and lyricist for Necrofier, and was kind enough to speak with me about the band, their new record Burning Shadows In The Southern Night (Season of Mist Records), and what lies ahead for this extraordinarily skilled foursome.

Necrofier emerged in 2018 when Larson, who played in Venomous Maximus and promoted shows throughout the Houston area, began jammning with Dobber Beverly from Oceans of Slumber and the legendary Insect Warfare. Initially not conceiving of a band together, the pair added Beverly’s roommate Mat Valentine and they quickly realized that there was extreme music magic. Necrofier’s musical direction was driven largely by Beverly, who hoped to put together a black metal band and black metal was “always at the core” of Necrofier, according to Larson.

Inspired by acts like Rotting Christ and Dissection, the initial efforts of the three resulted in 2021’s thunderous Prophecies of Eternal Darkness, a record whose sonic barbarism has somehow been surpassed on the band’s latest release, Burning Shadows in the Southern Night. Rounded out by Semir Ozerkan on guitar, Burning Shadows pays homage to the traditional aesthetic of black metal while also injecting a healthy dose of more refined, traditionalist heavy metal. As Larson notes, Black Metal has always possessed “a more serious tone”, driven largely by the genre’s fascination with “the occult, mysticism, and other concepts beyond typical metal themes”. Necrofier stands out among the new wave of American Black Metal through their talent and the incredible production one hears on Burning Shadows, compliments of legendary producer Joel Hamilton.

Joel Hamilton is one of the most sought after and successful producers in the world; his work spans the musical landscape from Sparklehorse to Elvis Costello to Unsane to Tom Waits. So how did a multi-time Emmy and Grammy nominated producer find his way into the midst of this fiery Texas metal behemoth?

As Larson described it, it was simply the result of “good vibes”. Hamilton had worked with Oceans of Slumber and with the stringent endorsement of Dobber along with Hamilton’s desire to “do something heavy”, according to Larson, the process was incredibly easy. It is easy to hear the increased sophistication of Burning Shadows, and Larson ascribed much of that growth to the collaboration with Hamilton. Necrofier became “more of a band” during their time in the studio, as Hamilton “inspired more creativity” and as such, motivated all four members to “play better.”

The result is an album whose breadth of sound is as large as the state from which the band hails, and much like Texas, Necrofier’s new release is louder and rowdier, a musical encapsulation of chaos and sophistication. One of the instantly recognizable qualities of Burning Shadows in the Southern Night is the erudite nature of the lyrics. Larson is the sole writer for the band, and his words are connected through his ability to construct stories that dwell in darkness and have a universal message. Much of the subject matter of the record “addresses selling your soul”, he said, “whether it’s going down to the crossroads and selling your soul to the devil the way Robert Johnson did, or something not so literal, that theme exists”. Larson’s style of writing does not follow any standard deviation, as there are moments when “music can inspire the lyrics for a song”, but usually, “lyrics shape the songs”. When asked about the typical writer’s desire to refine and rewrite, Larson acknowledged that once a track is recorded, he recognizes that the works reflects “where I was, and I live with it”. He certainly has little reason to consider changing anything found throughout Burning Shadows.

Necrofier recently finished a stint on the road opening up for Midnight, and have more touring plans in the works, including crisscrossing their home state of Texas and making it out to the West Coast. Selfishly, I had to ask when the guys may make it to the eastern seaboard, and the hope is for that to happen in early 2024. When asked for a final comment about the new material, Larson cheerfully said that “these songs are meant to be played live”. Hopefully, everyone who loves truly innovative extreme metal will seek out and find Necrofier regardless of where they are and how much heat stroke one may suffer; it’s worth it.

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