Rating:
9.8
Immortal - At The Heart Of Winter
1999


01. Withstand The Fall Of Time
02. Solarfall
03. Tragedies Blows At Horizon
04. Where Light And Dark Don't Differ
05. At The Heart Of Winter
06. Years Of Silent Sorrow


I'm afraid I lack the linguistic resources to clearly explain what makes the album the work of genius that it is, so I will be brief and remain vague. Luckily there is very little that needs to be written about this album. It has been around for a decade and has developed a sufficient following to articulate its greatness. Any fan of black metal, or indeed metal in general, should find this album, buy it or steal it, and worship it.

Regardless if it is black metal or not, Immortal 's At the Heart of Winter marked the end of an era and the beginning of a new and greatly improved one. Immortal distinguished themselves as more than a generic act and as one of the most creative metal bands around with this album. It is nothing short of brilliant and arguably Immortal 's masterpiece.

Unlike most of the other major black metal acts (of old and new), Immortal clearly emphasizes their music over their ideology. Swept up by what one assumes was artistic integrity, At the Heart of Winter is, if anything, a statement against the second wave of black metal which kindly sheltered Immortal during their early years of traditional black sound and funny music videos. The album abandons the punk-rock-like disregard for talent that early black metal acts harnessed for their statement, boasting riffs paralleled only by some of the more famous thrash metal acts of the late eighties and early nineties. It takes a relentless thrash metal / early death metal riff formula and mixes it with black metal grime, occasionally pausing for chillingly atmospheric (without a gratuitous amount of synthesizer) clean guitar parts which break powerfully back into a metal energy with Abbath's outstanding voice at the helm.

Each song takes the listener on a more brutal magical mystery tour than a band like The Beatles could have imagined, conquering cold atmospheres with the friction of distortion played fast. Whatever tragic element that might exist in the slow minor parts is quickly fought by relentless speed and Abbath's inhuman black metal growls. Nonetheless, each tour (if you will) merges with the other, making the decision to listen to tracks separately or the whole album at once an important and relevant one.

The fact that the album does not sound like the black metal releases that came before should be irrelevant. I realize genre distinction is important, to some more than others, and the rather obvious thrash influence that permeates itself in At the Heart of Winter is frowned upon by some so-called black metal die-hards, but nothing should work toward the detriment of what is a beautiful collection of music. At the Heart of Winter should be a testament to what a metal band can create should it leave the box of genre (I do not encourage all bands to do this; Immolation shouldn't release a nu-metal album or anything).

At the Heart of Winter transcends the sometimes constraining labels of genre, weaving in and out of nostalgic looks at metal's past while (since it has been 10 years since the albums release, it seems safe to state) building a bridge for black metal into the 21st century. At the Heart of Winter is a fucking symphony of the highest order.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Production: 9


Band profile: Immortal
Album: At The Heart Of Winter


 


written by wormdrink414 | 05.10.2009


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

Guest review by
Slayer666

Rating:
7.5
Have you ever heard of a black metal fan who doesn't like (or at least, admits to not liking) Immortal? Well, I happen to be one of those fans. I was never able to really like Immortal's mixture of thrash and black metal, which was present even on their earliest albums (although, far less than now) despite them being constantly labelled as pure black. Sure, there had always been a song or two that once entered my head, couldn't get out of there for days. But, in the overall, they are not really interesting to me. And here it is, their perhaps most highly praised release, At The Heart of Winter. I was so anxious to hear it. "Who knows, maybe it will change my opinion about them", I thought. Well, it most certainly didn't.

Not only did Immortal not get more "black" with this release, but instead, they even made it their most thrashy and technical release up to date. No filthy production, no tremolo picking, no blast beats... Yes, this is not a black metal release, this is a slightly blackened thrash album. Now, you might be thinking why the heck I am making such a big deal about the genre of the album. "If it sounds good, who the hell cares what genre it is?!", right? Perhaps so, but that is the easiest and most elaborate way for me to explain what kind of music it is. You see, I think that the very reason of Immortal being so popular is the very reason I don't like them. That strange mixture of black and thrash. Well, in this album the thrash factor is taken to a really high level. The album is mostly based around a mid tempo, with Abbath's usual vocal style somewhere on the line between shrieks and growls, and catchy, powerful guitar riffs. Or at least, that's what they should have been like.

Unfortunately, I have to say that this part of the album has been screwed. Immortal took a wrong turn somewhere, and in their attempt to make a memorable, catchy, yet heavy album, they just made one that mostly feels like a dragged, uninspired mess. I'm sorry, I know how much people like this thing, but I can't escape the feeling that the idea of how this album should have sounded like was realized in a poor way. Some songs are undeniably good. "Solarfall" is the best on the album, and if they had done the rest like they did that one, it would have been excellent. Sadly, the vast majority is just so without emotions, without feeling, so... generic. To prove my point better, let us compare my loved "Solarfall" to, say, "Years of Silent Sorrow". The beginning riff on the first of the compared is so damn catchy, so memorable, powerful, full of energy. It just makes you want to stand up, and get to jumping and head-banging. The second one is just full of riffs that will bore you. It neither has the catchiness and energy a thrash metal song should, nor the cold, evil, morbid atmosphere a black metal song should. Somewhat simplistic notes repeated over and over again that just go over your head is something unforgivable in a release by Immortal. The same goes for the vast majority of tracks, with some exceptions, of course.

This review has been hard for me. I was constantly striving to see just what is so good about this album, even from a standpoint of an Immortal fan. I failed. I might even go as far as calling it the weakest effort of the band. Even though I might not like what Immortal does, they deserve credit for successfully blending the two mentioned genres, and making a practically a new one. Not here. Were it not for Abbath's characteristic vocals, and that usual way the group tune their guitars, I would have sworn this was not their release. You might think I'm being too harsh. Well, I sure am. If this really wasn't a release of the one Immortal, the album would have been good, maybe even very good. But Immortal proved that they can and must do so much better than this.

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published 28.09.2009 | Comments (57)



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thesabbathfan - 05.10.2009 at 18:11  
I like.
Introspekrieg - 05.10.2009 at 19:23  
The Beatles compared with Immortal? Nice...
K†ulu - 05.10.2009 at 23:07  
So this is obviously an answer to the previous review. I listened to this album a few days ago, and I don't enjoy it as much I did some time ago. I think I should a review too.
Troy Killjoy - 06.10.2009 at 00:38  
Written by Introspekrieg on 05.10.2009 at 19:27

Written by Troy Killjoy on 05.10.2009 at 16:13

Written by wormdrink414 on 05.10.2009 at 05:37

There definitely needs to be a second review for this album. It's a fucking masterpiece.


Those who understand its degree of perfection do not need to read a review lauding its worth.


Well... I think we got one anyway.


So I see. This is more of a history lesson than a review, though; yet I agree with the rating. What else is there to say about such a brilliant piece of art?
Mr. Doctor - 06.10.2009 at 00:56  
Written by K†ulu on 05.10.2009 at 23:07

I think I should a review too.


Yeah... I think I also want to do a review for this one, you know... just to make my point as everyone seems to do right now.

I think all of us should do a review for this album!
danielllewis - 06.10.2009 at 01:31  
This is my favourite album of all time, so I think it's a good rating.

This is far superior to the other review for this album that was submitted a while ago. Why he thinks this album has no atmosphere is beyond me, lol
Passe - 06.10.2009 at 01:38  
At least, "cold atmospheres" is in the review. It is the exact feeling I have when I listen to this album.
Maybe the little weakness in this album is the production which is rather good but still not perfect. For that point I would have cut a bit in the overall rating.

Anyway, with this album, something really different and original was created. Originality is what makes the major bands.
Uirapuru - 06.10.2009 at 03:24  
Yeah, this review is better than the other to me. According to my taste
Introspekrieg - 07.10.2009 at 02:59  
There definitely needs to be a third review for this album. It's a fucking masterpiece.
9.8 is too low. I WANT A 10!!! Someone poop out another review for this album!
wormdrink414 - 07.10.2009 at 03:46  
Written by Introspekrieg on 07.10.2009 at 02:59

There definitely needs to be a third review for this album. It's a fucking masterpiece.
9.8 is too low. I WANT A 10!!! Someone poop out another review for this album!


You got it.
ToMegaTherion - 08.10.2009 at 01:15  
This would actually be one of my favorite BM albums. Quite correct, it is a genuine masterpiece. Every song plays a big part on the album, the production is perfect, and the sound is brilliant.
Vitriolic Hate - 03.12.2009 at 22:45  
Nice review & the best Immortal album ever!
EzeKyeL - 26.06.2010 at 15:34  
Helll Yeahhh

"a bridge for black metal into the 21st century"
wormdrink414 - 16.02.2011 at 12:22  
Written by Introspekrieg on 05.10.2009 at 19:23

The Beatles compared with Immortal? Nice...


That might be the dumbest comparison I've ever made. I'm hiding my face and weeping.
Introspekrieg - 16.02.2011 at 13:14  
Written by wormdrink414 on 16.02.2011 at 12:22

Written by Introspekrieg on 05.10.2009 at 19:23

The Beatles compared with Immortal? Nice...


That might be the dumbest comparison I've ever made. I'm hiding my face and weeping.


Haha, but in your defense you only compared the music in terms of how it affects the listener, not the actual music.
wormdrink414 - 16.02.2011 at 13:26  
Written by Introspekrieg on 16.02.2011 at 13:14

Written by wormdrink414 on 16.02.2011 at 12:22

Written by Introspekrieg on 05.10.2009 at 19:23

The Beatles compared with Immortal? Nice...


That might be the dumbest comparison I've ever made. I'm hiding my face and weeping.


Haha, but in your defense you only compared the music in terms of how it affects the listener, not the actual music.


That shit is still indefensible.

I'm having a blush-fest reading my old comments and reviews at the moment. So many cliches, so many "perhaps" 's and "indeed" 's. So many half-baked arguments. Need... to... repent...
wormdrink414 - 16.02.2011 at 13:29  
So many fucking commas!
Troy Killjoy - 16.02.2011 at 17:29  
Written by wormdrink414 on 16.02.2011 at 13:29

So many fucking commas!

It was written in a matter of about 2 days as a response to the previous review labeling the album as thrash.

Just check the 7.5 review's comments. I believe there were a few of us in there who threw our feces around.
wormdrink414 - 17.02.2011 at 02:51  
Quote:
Quote:

It was written in a matter of about 2 days as a response to the previous review labeling the album as thrash.

Just check the 7.5 review's comments. I believe there were a few of us in there who threw our feces around.


Those 2 days were spent waiting for the review to be published too. The review took about 30 minutes to write, and it shows.
Troy Killjoy - 17.02.2011 at 17:37  
Quote:
Quote:
Written by wormdrink414 on 17.02.2011 at 02:51


It was written in a matter of about 2 days as a response to the previous review labeling the album as thrash.

Just check the 7.5 review's comments. I believe there were a few of us in there who threw our feces around.


Those 2 days were spent waiting for the review to be published too. The review took about 30 minutes to write, and it shows.

haha I didn't even realize you were the one who wrote it! Classic review though. Always reminds me of good times.
Beastofmetal456 - 30.05.2011 at 01:34  
Written by Introspekrieg on 07.10.2009 at 02:59

There definitely needs to be a third review for this album. It's a fucking masterpiece.
9.8 is too low. I WANT A 10!!! Someone poop out another review for this album!

Tr00. If I could give it an 11, I would've!!
arwestromen - 06.12.2011 at 13:41  
I will quest for this item, find it, buy it (or steal it depending on the prize) and worship it
Troy Killjoy - 06.12.2011 at 19:37  
Written by arwestromen on 06.12.2011 at 13:41
I will quest for this item, find it, buy it (or steal it depending on the prize) and worship it

Prepare to face the guards of Skyrim if you choose to steal.
!J.O.O.E.! - 06.12.2011 at 20:21  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 06.12.2011 at 19:37

Prepare to face the guards of Skyrim if you choose to steal.

Or worse still, the guards from Oblivion who will know you've stolen it even though you were alone and they were in another part of the city altogether.
arwestromen - 07.12.2011 at 17:05  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 06.12.2011 at 19:37

Prepare to face the guards of Skyrim if you choose to steal.


Do what for whom of where????

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