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Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism

Immortal - Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism ©1992 Osmose/JL America
1. Call Of The Winter Moon
2. Unholy Forces Of Evil
3. Cryptic Winter Storms
4. Cold Winds Of Funeral Dust
5. Black Than Darkness
6. A Perfect Vision Of The Rising Northland

The first Immortal album demonstrates many of the shortcomings of early black metal: truly bad production and not a clear sense of direction with the music. That said, Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism still comes across as a somewhat interesting album that highlights some of the musical ideas that the band would use later on. However, the music is played a much slower pace than later releases. As stated, the production is truly working against the band here. The end is muddled while the mastering rendered the CD to be come across as "quiet", not the loud, vicious slap to the face the band might desire. The black metal screams are intact here as well as a more death metal oriented riffing style. Acoustic guitar and other softer effects are thrown in to create a bit of mood. You can definitely hear the Bathory Blood Fire Death influence on the pacing of tracks like "Blacker Than Darkness". Overall, the record is nothing very special, but does set the groundwork for this band.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2000

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Pure Holocaust

Immortal - Pure Holocaust ©1993 Osmose
1. Unsilent Storms In The North Abyss
2. A Sign For The Norse Hordes To Ride
3. The Sun No Longer Rises
4. Frozen By Icewinds
5. Storming Through Red Clouds And Holocaustwinds
6. Eternal Years On The Path To The Cemetary Gates
7. As The Eternity Opens
8. Pure Holocaust

A black symphony - raging, ambient and multi-layered guitars arranged to the backdrop of a cascading drum-scape. Typical black metal vocals, stupid lyrics (fantasy-type, bad grammar, just look at the song titles). The production is somewhat moderately acceptable, but a lot of the melodies are difficult to discern and about a fifth of them remain so even in spite of repeated, attentive, and from the 300th one onwards, frustrating listens. Distorted to hell, and quite a bit more, that's why! Listen to this without the bass-boost on, it helps a lot. The bass drum is loud, the snare a loose rattle, the drumming a case of drug-induced obscenely-fast waywardly kit-abuse. The bass got tickled once in a blue moon, probably, or maybe they waited until it turned yellow.

Never heard anything like it before, or after. An absolute masterpiece.

Immortal are the best among the Norwegian metal bands (I'm not getting into whether this is "true black metal" or not: screw that), one of the few in the entire movement who actually have a lot of talent. They're surprisingly hard to play for a black-metal sort of band, if you have actually tried to play their stuff. It is mostly power-chords and tremolo riffs, yes, but they're used in a theatrical, communicative way, like a storyteller would create a haunting story using a select variety of vocabulary. And they're really good at doing that. Shockingly dark, it is a thick, restless wall of sound: get a headache if you don't pay attention to it but relieve a headache if you listen carefully.

Track one is a great introduction to the Pure Holocaust sound. Melodic...melodramatic, actually. It has a very strange melody; I haven't heard a lot of metal using progressions like Immortal use here. Or, in fact, on the next track, which is even more odd sounding. I find a lot of the melodies to be of a slightly middle-eastern sort, actually. Track three is sad and of more "moderate" pace. Breathing room. Track four seems like the earlier track with a different order of notes at first, but soon develops into a soaring Immortal mini-epic. Even a tremolo-arm guitar solo at the end, very middle-eastern in choice of notes and wailing-old-woman in choice of tone. Track five is classic Immortal, considerably more aggressive than the earlier ones. The melodies here are difficult to figure out due to the extreme distortion and layering. No matter, there's number six along. Wholesomely varied in pace and structure, this also features some good off-time drumming and passable fills from Abbath. Track seven is rather soothing, actually, with a smooth, continuous wall of sound and constant double bass. Classical sounding, towards the end, a theme to be developed later. Then, of course, fades in the absolute highlight: the title track. What a compsition! The classical musician would be proud. A mournful (characteristic feature of their music) and majestic winterstorm, this one. Breathtaking. Every single melodic line in here is preciously crafted and arranged, it is very obvious. Right in the middle they introduce yet another haunting line, which, coupled with some earlier riffs for descant, resolves into a mass of exciting texture.

Even if you're not into metal, this has to heard: it has singlehandedly broadened my definition of metal and uses the black metal sound in an entirely unique way. Very atmospheric, this is both beautiful and apocalyptic at once. This is what Immortal will be remembered for (I will spare you the obvious pun), the record where they established a frightening sound before reverting to less groundbreaking ways. A mandatory listen.

Review by Rahul Joshi

Review date: 07/1999

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Battles In The North

Immortal - Battles In The North ©1995 Osmose
1. Battles In The North
2. At The Stormy Gates Of Mist
3. Through The Halls Of Eternity
4. Moonrise Fields Of Sorrow
5. Cursed Realms Of The Winterdemons
6. Throned By Blackstorms
7. Grim And Frostbitten Kingdoms
8. Descent Into Eminent Silence
9. Circling Above In Time Before Time
10. Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark)

I get the feeling the two brothers who the core of Immortal spent an awful lot of their youth being told sit down and hold still. Perhaps even to the point where their mother tied them down in the basement to keep their hyperactive little bodies from flying around the house and breaking things. That would also explain their dark image and ever-so-evil lyrics. Admittedly if you just looked at the cover of this album and saw the goofy corpsepaint as well as the hilarious photos of the brothers hugging their axes and playing atop a mighty frosted mountain peak, chances are you would chuckle and move on. But being blatantly over-the-top and indeed one of the fastest, most hyperactive black metal bands in existence, Immortal does have a tiny bit of leeway. To be honest, I don't know how serious one should take this outfit. Throughout this thirty-five minute exercise in blast beats and warp speed riffing, I kept expecting the vocalist to break out with "Equi-maaaaaan-thorn!" In another song, the guitars are blazing away and the drummer just drops out as if he was saying, "Sorry guys, I gotta catch my breath." But the thing about this sort of black metal, if you just let yourself be slightly dulled to the blur of noise, a certain atmospheric echo effect occurs that is indeed the essence of the music. The downfall to this album is the thin nature of the production as well as the lack of musical variety can be very exhausting and quite annoying if you're not in the mood for it. Immortal certainly isn't for those who like a little finesse or subtle touches with their music, but insofar as hyperspeed black metal goes, this isn't too terribly bad.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/1999

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Blizzard Beasts

Immortal - Blizzard Beasts ©1997 Osmose
1. Blizzard Beasts
2. Nebular Ravens Winter
3. Suns That Sank Below
4. Battlefields
5. Mountains Of Might
6. Noctambulant
7. Winter Of The Ages
8. Frostdemonstorm

Immortal's fourth offering, often likened to Morbid Angel's early years, and rightfully so. This sees Immortal deviate significantly from their "classic" Pure Holocaust wall of black sound. Thrashy and surprisingly technical (very much death metal, in that aspect), this might be the album that converts death metallers to black metallers, or the album where Immortal lose their faithful fans.

Tracks here are abrupt in every respect: they start without a fuss, change time periodically and unexpectedly, and end without warning. Music here is definitely Morbid Angel influenced, with angular riffs running wild tremolo patterns through knee-deep snow. Extremely tight stuttering riffs - mostly involving right hand virtuoso rhythm technique as opposed to left-handed melodic finger flight - litter the short minutes of this output, and they change awkwardly and usually much too soon. The recording is rather thin and strange, and this affects the drums the most: the snare sounds like a clock tick and the bass drum like a pneumatic drill, severely undermining Horgh's ability to sound good at his instruments. Bass guitars are not to be heard, and guitars gain prominence in the recorded space - but they're still not as clear as one would have hoped. It is a very strange recording indeed: not thick, but not clear either.

After the "Blizzard Beasts" intro, the band launches immediately into "Nebular Ravens Winter" and passes through a host of rather well-written riffs to reach - three tracks later - a quiet, beautiful keyboard intro that soon morphs into the fury of "Mountains of Might". Immortal contain in their ranks geniuses of composers and this is very marked here: this is majestic, anthemic, driven to speed and brutality by the nature of the album but restrained and melodic enough to make it an epic with a grand sadness at its core. I've always felt that Immortal, for all their compulsion to play fast, have always had great sorrow at the heart of their songs, and this just adds to the list of examples. The album is concluded with three short blasts of ice: "Noctambulant", the thrashiest track on the album, "Winter of the Ages", a short burst of violence, and Frostdemonstorm, a marvel of a ditty actually aided by the production to enable it sound like a true snowstorm!

An enjoyable album, doubled in musical worth by the 6:30 of "Mountains of Might" alone.

Review by Rahul Joshi

Review date: 12/1999

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At The Heart Of Winter

Immortal - At The Heart Of Winter ©1999 Osmose
1. Withstand The Fall Of Time
2. Solarfall
3. Tragedies Blows At Horizon
4. Where Dark And Light Don't Differ
5. At The Heart Of Winter
6. Years Of Silent Sorrow

At the Heart of Winter has made me rethink my opinion of what Immortal is all about. Based on listens of previous works, Immortal was nothing more than an amusing sidenote in black metal. Now, having proved all they could within the idiom of hyperspeed metal, Immortal has wisely slowed things down to a much more reasonable tempo and discovered that allowing your riffs to breathe can help create truly magnificent music. Apparently the band went through some lineup changes as Demonaz suffered acute tendonitis in his playing wrist, forcing Abbath to handle the guitar work. Perhaps this change was what was necessary. Nevertheless, At the Heart of Winter is a stunning album that has dominated my CD player since I found it.

There obviously is still quite a bit of speed in the mix. The opening track "Withstand the Fall of Time" has more than its fair share of kinetic rush, but Immortal is wise enough to allow for clarity of composition to shine through. However, it is the change-up from distortion to quiet yet motion-filled clean guitar in "Tragedies Blows at Horizon" that truly grabbed my attention on first listen. As with the staggering main riff on the title track, the ability of the band to snare your ear and demand full attention is demonstrated here. The impressions of previous albums are totally gone with this album. As with Slayer's followup to Reign in Blood showed over a decade ago, sometimes the wisest place to go is a slower pace. Slayer's South of Heaven is still my favorite album from that band and Immortal has given me a new favorite. Put this on your want list immediately. You will not find many greater metal albums this year.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/1999

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Damned In Black

Immortal - Damned In Black ©2000 Osmose
1. Triumph
2. Wrath From Above
3. Against The Tide (In The Arctic World)
4. My Dimension
5. The Darkness That Embrace Me
6. Into Our Mystic Visions Blest
7. Damned In Black

Having never been a True Immortophile, I'm in no real position to detail exactly how and why this album differs from every one in their back catalogue. While the music on this disc may be in the same vein as At the Heart of Winter (my only reference point), Abbath & Co. have done away with most of the more annoying tendencies of their last outing - ie.unwarranted length. Maybe my soul isn't epic enough, but eight plus minutes of Abbath's voice in the same song setting just gets to me. I'd rather have a short album of concentrated fun than a longer, duller one. Rest assured, this is the former. The boys in black have served up a tasty mélange of varied-tempo black metal, with sides of thrash and death. Being sufficiently succinct, it won't give you heartburn, but will satisfy your appetite for new frostbitten evilness from up north.

Review by C. LeRoux

Review date: 05/2000

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Sons Of Northern Darkness

Immortal - Sons Of Northern Darkness ©2002 Nuclear Blast
1. One By One
2. Sons Of Northern Darkness
3. Tyrants
4. Demonium
5. Within The Dark Mind
6. In My Kingdom Cold
7. Antarctica
8. Beyond The North Waves

If you've stayed tune to Channel Immortal since 1999, you'll probably note the band has found themselves a niche they seem to be quite content with. Sons of Northern Darkness, the band's seventh album, reprises the blackened thrash sound that they first unleashed on At the Heart of Winter and features nothing but some refinement over 2000's somewhat pedestrian Damned in Black. Very little of the band's early hyperkinetic speedy rush exists here, although a couple of the tracks whip along in top gear. What you get instead is a riff-o-rama presented in semi-epic form. The songs stick to a basic sound throughout, but the formula works quite well. Abbath's vocals are as growly as ever while the guitar sound is thick, clear and very appropriate for the music. As with the past two albums, Immortal doesn't necessarily reinvent the wheel, but they have a good sound figured out and have the songwriting ability to create songs that stick to your bones and are worth hearing over and over. For those who have enjoyed the past two albums, Sons of Northern Darkness is a worthy successor and presents enough good new songs to make it worth getting.

Most thankfully, the band continues to present us with their absolutely adorable bunny-meets-spikes image, something I hope never goes away.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2002

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