Once upon a time in Norway, there was this band called Immortal…This is how I could have started a brief history about this famed Norwegian black metal band and its influence it had over the unsuspecting black metal scene which was about to be born 27 years ago.
But since everyone already knows who Immortal was and still is, I will not do that. Instead, I will write some words about their new release, Northern Chaos Gods, which came out exactly 13 days ago, via the German label Nuclear Blast.
So far 2018 has been a good year when it comes to black metal: Funeral Mist has released a new album after 9 years, Tormentor have reunited and started a Reunion tour of selected shows and Immortal have come back from the dead after 9 years of slumber with a different line-up and a fresh new album.
The first surprise was the departure of one of the founding members, Abbath Doom Occulta, and his replacement by another founding member, Demonaz Doom Occulta, who in the last 21 years had to stop playing the guitar and was only in charge of the band’s lyrics. I have to admit that for me this came as a pleasant surprise, because during the last years Abbath turned Immortal in some sort of circus and the band lost a lot of its credibility because of that ( I will always remember the disappointment I had after witnessing the band’s show in Wacken in 2007, which was later released as the Seventh Date of Blashyrkh DVD).
Moving on to 2018 AB, Demonaz, together with the old trusty drummer Horgh reunited Immortal and finally released an album which is definitely on my Best Albums of the Year list.
And why is that, should you ask? It’s very easy: because Demonaz compiled in the 8 songs present on this album all the best stuff Immortal was able to produce at the moment. The album in its entirety is a compilation of all of Immortal‘s back catalogue, from Diabolical Fullmon Mysticism to Damned in Black, written and arranged by a very inspired Demonaz to fit the year of grace 2018 (The best way to illustrate the link with the mighty past is the inclusion of the band’s old logo in the 6 panel digipak, how cool is that!!).
Obviously, when you say Immortal, you say ice, mountains, cold, winterdemons, storms, frozen North, ravens, blizzards and of course Blashyrkh. Their trademark is here once again, in full shape, freezing the speakers while the chaos spews forth. On Northern Chaos Gods, more than ever, these elements show a mature facet of Immortal, a band which learned from its agitated past but refused to give up.
Having performed the vocals on his beautiful solo album, March of the Norse, Demonaz shows us, 7 years later, a bold and captivating alternative to what Abbath used us to. It’s a clear statement that this is his band and his work and now Immortal is back, stronger than ever, to kick the fucking asses.
In several interviews Demonaz gave during the years, he claimed his love for the first wave of black metal, made of Venom, Bathory and other bands alike. I think that on this album, the Bathory influence is very well present, both in the harsh passages and in the slow, epic portions of the songs, where the “mellow” guitar parts combine with the double bass drums in mid tempo sections (Storm of Blashyrkh, Where Mountains Rise and the majestic 9 minute Mighty Ravendark).
But what I like best on this album is the ferocious speed of Horgh‘s drumming mixed with the walls of icy riffs patterns and guitar solos Demonaz is playing with youthful enthusiasm (Northern Chaos Gods, Into Battle Ride, Grim and Dark, Blacker of Worlds). Of course all these wouldn’t have been possible without a strong production and fortunately Peter Tagtren, besides filling in the session bass parts, managed to create one hell of a monster album, where every instrument is clearly heard.
I admit that it took me several listens to fully assimilate the majesty of this album, as at first something just did not click right. But believe me, once you allow your body to absorb the essence of the true North and its icy landscapes, you’ll walk the paths of sorrow, mesmerized by the mighty ravendark. And it’s not a cliche, it’s the truth: Immortal stood up to its name and delivered one of the best albums in the chapter or true Norwegian black metal.
Even if the resurrection of Immortal came as a huge surprise, it showed, one more time if necessary, that no one is irreplaceable, not even a founding member. Demonaz and Horgh have brought Immortal back from the dead, and this time I have the feeling that they are really here to stay. I truly hope the band will embark on a European tour to support this album, as there are some really good songs which deserve to be played live.
“Blashyrkh by fire
Blashyrkh by name
The throne of north
Mighty be thy law
Immortal – Norther Chaos Gods tracklist:
1. Northern Chaos Gods
2. Into Battle Ride
3. Gates to Blashyrkh
4. Grim and Dark
5. Called to Ice
6. Where Mountains Rise
7. Blacker of Worlds
8. Mighty Ravendark
Demonaz – Vocals, Guitars
Peter Tagtren – Bass
Horgh – Drums