Getting Into: Immortal

Written by: Oaken
Published: 09.07.2012
Inspired by Metal Storm's very own "Getting Into" series.

Back in the day when black metal was starting to thrive and prosper in the Norwegian underground, a lot of bands were gaining cult followings and fame because of their controversial lyrics, offensive live shows, and evil aesthetics. Church burnings and murder cases were enough to bring those bands into the first pages of newspapers, and spread word of them. However, some bands managed to isolate themselves from this method whilst still succeeding in spearheading the scene and creating adept compositions. Immortal is one of them. Despite the band's usage of traditional black metal looks, they stayed away from any subjects that are bound to arouse controversy. Instead of praising Satan, Immortal sang about darkness and evil in general, the harshness of winter and the fantastical, mystical land of Winterdemons, Blashyrkh, that guitarist Abbath created. Immortal, known as the kings of northern darkness, were never an unoriginal band; they were one of the earliest black metal bands, and in their later days, they fused black metal with thrash and heavy metal, thus creating a sound that is their own. So, here's a guide to get into the mighty Norsk warriors, Immortal.


{1992} - Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism

Immortal released their debut, Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism, in 1992. Diabolical boasts a lot of features that are synonymous with old school black metal, yet it still is very fresh sounding, and very promising as it comes from a really young band, which hasn't yet found its own sound. The vocals are not like Abbath's usual croaks, nor is the overall songwriting. Still though, this is a good piece of black metal of the muddily-produced variety. One significant feature of the album is the inclusion of solos and leads, which are not quite common in black metal.
Rating : 8.0/10 Representative Track: Unholy Forces of Evil.

{1993} - Pure Holocaust

After the release of Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism, Immortal unleashed a genre-defining black metal landmark; an album that takes its rightful place amongst the essentials of old-school black metal. Pure Holocaust showcases Immortal's own sound. Very fast tremolo picking over blazing blastbeats with Abbath's signature croak to top it all. But what really stands out in Pure Holocaust is that it's truly a holocaust. This record is representative of chaos and mayhem, with an atmosphere that can be described as ominous, dark, war-like, and foreboding.
Rating : 8.9/10 Representative Track: A Sign for the Norse Hordes to Ride.

{1995} - Battles in the North

Battles in the North sees Immortal finally embracing their aesthetics. The whole album sounds grim and frostbitten, there's something about the riffs that makes them sound like they were played amidst the tempest and finally you have the raw production. All these factors meld together to form a brutally sounding slab of classic black metal with lyrics about winter and cold. Even though Battles was never as influential as its predecessor, it was the pinnacle of Immortal's pure black metal era and the end of it.
Rating : 8.7/10 Representative Track: Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark).

{1997} - Blizzard Beasts

Blizzard Beasts is the turning point in Immortal's discography, albeit a weaker one compared to their earlier works. Blizzard Beasts takes that style of its predecessor and it infuses it with thrash elements, but doesn't really get it right. Unlike earlier Immortal albums, the tracks on Blizzard are not really all that memorable. "Mountains of Might" is the standout track in the album, and is the best of what it has to give. Still though, Blizzard Beasts is an important effort done by Immortal, not only because it showcased the band in a new way, but also because it gave us an idea of what to expect later on.
Rating : 6.9/10 Representative Track: Mountains of Might.

{1999} - At the Heart of Winter

After the not-so-great effort of Blizzard Beasts, Abbath and co. delivered the album that is regarded by many as their magnum opus: At the Heart of Winter. This record blends black metal with thrash/heavy influences in an outstanding method and very epic undertones. Phenomenal songwriting is the main trait of the album, as all the tracks flow beautifully, creating a marvelous, emotional journey to Abbath's imaginary land of Blashyrkh. Still being Immortal-esque to the core, At the Heart of Winter is a twist in the musical direction that is successful, wondrous and influential. (Thanks to Immortal for this great gem!)
Rating : 9.5/10 Representative Track: Withstand the Fall of Time.

{2000} - Damned in Black

With Damned in Black, Immortal retain the style of At the Heart of Winter, yet in an underwhelming way. The thrashy elements are brought to the front, and the whole music is weakened by the crystal clear production. The songwriting on Damned is musically stellar, even though it lacks the soul and the energy on At the Heart of Winter. So, despite being adept composition-wise, Damned in Black isn't exactly what Immortal fans expected as a follow-up to the magnificent At the Heart of Winter. It will forever stay in the shadows of its mighty predecessor.
Rating : 7.5/10 Representative Track: Wrath From Above.

{2002} - Sons of Northern Darkness

After Damned in Black, Immortal brought the black metal into the forefront again, and this had great results. Sons of Northern Darkness is Immortal's return to their top form. Sons utilized the same style of songwriting that is on At the Heart of Winter, yet without falling into the errors of Damned in Black. The songs were again epic and energetic, though not overly-epic as At the Heart, and the album wasn't overproduced like Damned. Therefore, Sons of Northern Darkness is a a great slab of blackened heavy/thrash (whatever that is) that showcases Immortal's skillful techniques and the band's consistency. After Sons, Immortal split for various reasons, only to reform later on.
Rating : 8.8/10 Representative Track: Sons of Northern Darkness.

{2009} - All Shall Fall

Immortal released their first album after reforming, All Shall Fall, in 2009. This new record emphasizes the style of Sons of Northern Darkness. For a band that hasn't released an album in nearly seven years, All Shall Fall comes off really decently. Abbath, though, isn't as relentless and violent as he used to be. A good way to describe All Shall Fall would be that it's a less abrasive and more welcoming version of Sons, and while it doesn't even try to overthrow Immortal's best, it shows that Abbath and his band are capable of writing consistent music.
Rating : 8.1/10 Representative Track: The Rise of Darkness.


And so, as a conclusion, Immortal are worthy of being one of the most respected black metal bands of all time. They started off as a raw black metal band, released some classic material and then experimented with other genres; and that, along with their consistency, made them what they are today. In addition to their main discography, Immortal released two demos before Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism, which represent a very raw side of their music. They also released their live album, Seventh Day of the Blashyrkh, in 2010. With Seventh, Immortal proved that they were also adept at performing live.


 
Guest article disclaimer:
This is a guest article, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.




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exomorphyx89 - 09.07.2012 at 05:24  
For many reasons, the best fuckin' black metal band of all time!... just my humble opinion.
Night Sight - 09.07.2012 at 11:39  
All shall fall and at the heart of winter are their best they have changed their style after Blizzard Beasts a lot they are not much agressive as they were
BTW best band in the world in my opinion
In Bone Factory - 09.07.2012 at 17:01  
Not only the Best Black Metal Band Ever but also one of the greatest bands in extreme music \m/
Troy Killjoy - 10.07.2012 at 03:34  
Suppose I'll fulfill the role of killjoy and go on record saying these guys are far from the best black metal band in the world, being that their inconsistent catalog has a few major weak points that make them seem somewhat lesser to a lot of other established black metal bands by comparison.

Aside from the Heart of Winter, they haven't produced any outstanding material - coming from someone who thoroughly enjoyed All Shall Fall and still listens to Sons of Northern Darkness from time to time when I have the chance.
Oaken - 10.07.2012 at 03:43  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 10.07.2012 at 03:34

Suppose I'll fulfill the role of killjoy and go on record saying these guys are far from the best black metal band in the world, being that their inconsistent catalog has a few major weak points that make them seem somewhat lesser to a lot of other established black metal bands by comparison.

Aside from the Heart of Winter, they haven't produced any outstanding material - coming from someone who thoroughly enjoyed All Shall Fall and still listens to Sons of Northern Darkness from time to time when I have the chance.

Well those three people who commented are definitely fanboys (Not that I'm not one ). But still Immortal are one of the best black metal bands out there, definitely not the sole best, and I think that we can say they're consistent since they never really made crap (BB was average, not less). BTW which would be the closest band to the best black metal band in the world in your opinion?
Troy Killjoy - 10.07.2012 at 03:50  
Personally? I'd go with Taake, Deathspell Omega, or The Ruins of Beverast. I know you can count a lot against them but you asked for my opinion.

As for Immortal never releasing a bad record... I would argue that aside from Pure Holocaust, none of their pre-Heart of Winter releases are by any means outstanding. Battles and Blizzard Beasts are both particularly bland.
Marcel Hubregtse - 10.07.2012 at 08:41  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 10.07.2012 at 03:50

Personally? I'd go with Taake,


talk about a bland black metal band
Troy Killjoy - 10.07.2012 at 17:00  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 10.07.2012 at 08:41
talk about a bland black metal band

I prefer to talk about the good ones.
Oaken - 10.07.2012 at 23:59  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 10.07.2012 at 03:50

Personally? I'd go with Taake, Deathspell Omega, or The Ruins of Beverast. I know you can count a lot against them but you asked for my opinion.

As for Immortal never releasing a bad record... I would argue that aside from Pure Holocaust, none of their pre-Heart of Winter releases are by any means outstanding. Battles and Blizzard Beasts are both particularly bland.

Your three choices are all amazing bands. I only heard one Taake record, and it was awesome. And DSO and TROB are great too. Blizzard Beasts was bland, Battles IMO was very good. Having said that, it was the record that helped me get into BM so that may be the reason I like it very much.
M C Vice - 11.07.2012 at 12:55  
No mention of Demonaz? He's just as important as Abbath creative-wise.

Written by Troy Killjoy on 10.07.2012 at 03:50

Personally? I'd go with Taake, Deathspell Omega, or The Ruins of Beverast. I know you can count a lot against them but you asked for my opinion.

Off topic a bit, but how would you rate Ancient (my favorite black metal band)? Particularly the Kaiaphas era stuff.
Troy Killjoy - 11.07.2012 at 15:06  
Written by M C Vice on 11.07.2012 at 12:55
Off topic a bit, but how would you rate Ancient (my favorite black metal band)? Particularly the Kaiaphas era stuff.

Their first two albums were pretty good (7/10 kind of stuff in my opinion) but everything after that is just... not really worth listening to if you ask me.
DieH@rd - 11.07.2012 at 15:43  
Immortal is awesome. In these uber hot days I can survive only by listening their songs that describe winter [hint - all of them].
M C Vice - 12.07.2012 at 10:42  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 11.07.2012 at 15:06

Written by M C Vice on 11.07.2012 at 12:55
Off topic a bit, but how would you rate Ancient (my favorite black metal band)? Particularly the Kaiaphas era stuff.

Their first two albums were pretty good (7/10 kind of stuff in my opinion) but everything after that is just... not really worth listening to if you ask me.

Fair enough. (I mean, you don't think one of my favorite bands is the epitome of awsome? I'll murder you with my bare hands!)
BoxCar Willy - 14.07.2012 at 18:31  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 10.07.2012 at 17:00

Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 10.07.2012 at 08:41
talk about a bland black metal band

I prefer to talk about the good ones.

Bitch just got wrecked
BoxCar Willy - 14.07.2012 at 18:33  
Never really "got" Immortal... I've never really been interested in any of their works.
Oaken - 14.07.2012 at 19:44  
Written by BoxCar Willy on 14.07.2012 at 18:33

Never really "got" Immortal... I've never really been interested in any of their works.

Start with their later material. It's much more musically catchy and easier to get into. At The Heart Of Winter is pure gold.
Mr. Doctor - 14.07.2012 at 20:49  
Written by BoxCar Willy on 14.07.2012 at 18:33

Never really "got" Immortal... I've never really been interested in any of their works.


Their later work is pretty fun to listen to. Just fucking metal you know?. Sons Of Northern Darkness Is hella awesome. Some great thrashing moments over the whole album.




Fuck yeah!!!
Marcel Hubregtse - 14.07.2012 at 20:53  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 10.07.2012 at 17:00

Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 10.07.2012 at 08:41
talk about a bland black metal band

I prefer to talk about the good ones.



then why do you mention a bland one such as Taake?
Slayer666 - 14.07.2012 at 21:07  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 14.07.2012 at 20:49

Their later work is pretty fun to listen to. Just fucking metal you know?. Sons Of Northern Darkness Is hella awesome. Some great thrashing moments over the whole album.


Damn straight. SoND wrecks the shit out of the unbelievably overrated At the Heart of Winter.
Mr. Doctor - 14.07.2012 at 21:09  
Written by Slayer666 on 14.07.2012 at 21:07

Damn straight. SoND wrecks the shit out of the unbelievably overrated At the Heart of Winter.


Was gonna give you a high-five but then I read the rest of the post... and then I remembered your review, bleh.

You get a high 2 or something at least...
Slayer666 - 14.07.2012 at 21:12  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 14.07.2012 at 21:09

Was gonna give you a high-five but then I read the rest of the post... and then I remembered your review, bleh.

You get a high 2 or something at least...


Foot five, plz?
Mr. Doctor - 14.07.2012 at 21:15  
Written by Slayer666 on 14.07.2012 at 21:12
Foot five, plz?


Nah, I got some nasty Athlete's foot so I actually give foot fives to the fuckers I dislike. You get a high two.
Lit. - 14.07.2012 at 22:11  
Written by Slayer666 on 14.07.2012 at 21:07

Written by Mr. Doctor on 14.07.2012 at 20:49

Their later work is pretty fun to listen to. Just fucking metal you know?. Sons Of Northern Darkness Is hella awesome. Some great thrashing moments over the whole album.


Damn straight. SoND wrecks the shit out of the unbelievably overrated At the Heart of Winter.


*buzzer*
WRONG!
Marcel Hubregtse - 14.07.2012 at 22:21  
B.o.t. :-)
Mr. Doctor - 14.07.2012 at 22:37  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 14.07.2012 at 22:21

B.o.t. :-)


What?
Oaken - 14.07.2012 at 22:55  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 14.07.2012 at 22:21

B.o.t. :-)

Marcel Hubregtse - 14.07.2012 at 23:35  
Back on topic
Bork - 06.08.2012 at 22:06  
Fantastic live band, saw them at BOA last year. Was very impressed,

So I've got Pure Holocaust. next album to get is At The Heart Of Winter then?
Vombatus - 07.08.2012 at 01:10  
After Pure Holocaust, I'd go in chronological order.... or maybe swap Damned in Black with At The Heart... the transition after Blizzard (or anything before) is pretty big.
SatyriconChick - 13.08.2012 at 04:13  
I got into Immortal first by hearing Battles in the North, then Pure Holocaust. Damned in Black and Sons of Northern Darkness I find "catchier," but I think their best work is All Shall Fall. Great band.
Lokaeda - 01.09.2012 at 03:16  
"Representative Track: Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark)."

I find "Throned by Blackstorms" more representative of the album, but that's my opinion
Oaken - 01.09.2012 at 03:22  
Written by Lokaeda on 01.09.2012 at 03:16

"Representative Track: Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark)."

I find "Throned by Blackstorms" more representative of the album, but that's my opinion

I personally enjoy every track on Battles (my favorite being Cursed Realms Of The Winterdemons), but I chose Blashrykh because it introduces "Blashyrkh" (the realm) and it's a great one that gives an idea about the whole album
Opethian - 19.09.2012 at 05:33  
Written by Bork on 06.08.2012 at 22:06

Fantastic live band, saw them at BOA last year. Was very impressed,

So I've got Pure Holocaust. next album to get is At The Heart Of Winter then?


Most definitely
Dentura - 06.10.2012 at 00:53  
I only have two Immortal albums (Sons of Northern Darkness and Battles in the North), I'm thinking about getting some more. Nice article.

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