Origin: Bergen, Norway 🇳🇴
Genre: Black Metal
Real life titans of the international black metal scene Immortal have been. Since the onset of the second wave and for more than 30 years this institution has bestowed upon us some of the genre’s most beloved records; tales of Blashyrkh realm where battles rage, darkness and eternal winter reign. A trio in their prime that consisted of the legendary Abbath, Demonaz and Horgh who were renowned the world over for their larger-than-life sound – an epic approach to the black craft that took the genre to heights never before seen or even imagined. To Hell with Devil worship and who wants to go to jail for arson? Mayhem’s Euronymous may have turned Abbath and Demonaz on to black metal all those years ago during the Inner Circle’s scourge, and Immortal’s debut album, “Diabolical Full Moon Mysticism”, may just be about as true as can be, but it wouldn’t be long until Abbath and Demonaz would begin to use something called their imagination…
The imaginative approach to creating black metal is one that has seen the birth of many brilliant records, from Immortal’s catalog here to the output from bands like newcomers, Stormkeep, whose understanding of the cold darkness and their willingness to explore it in all of its majesty has set them apart from the diabolical hordes. This open-minded way of doing things paired with the boldness to enhance black metal with proper recording, mixing and songwriting techniques has defined Immortal’s existence throughout the decades. Priceless pieces of BM innovation – “Battles In the North”, “At the Heart of Winter” and “Sons of Northern Darkness” that dared the competition to step out from behind the curtains of genre purism into the mainstream; ushering in a bold new movement alongside outfits like Satyricon and Dimmu Borgir who were being signed to bigger labels and doing things on a professional level.
We all get older, and as we do, issues arise: mental health and substance abuse usually. These issues take a toll on relationships and careers; rendering many of them defunct for any number of reasons. The challenges Abbath has had to face over recent years due to drinking are no secret. On and off the wagon he’s been as of late, and his dismissal from Immortal back in 2015 due to overindulgence and all the subsequent complications that go along with it has actually steered his and Immortal’s careers into a couple of pretty exciting new directions. Abbath went on to form his namesake band and Immortal went from duo to solo; all in the past eight years. Each project with recent album releases to be proud of and no shortage of spoils to go around it seems. But underneath the surface, things are usually a bit uglier than what glimmers atop. A legal dispute over the rights to the band has ensued; resulting in the 2020 split between longtime member Horgh and founder Demonaz. Does it even matter? Take a listen to Immortal’s or should I say Demonaz’ new album, “War Against All”, and decide for yourself…
The highly-anticipated and aptly-titled “War Against All” was unleashed today (5/26), and judging by album cover art alone, I think it’s safe to assume that we’re all in for the classic Immortal experience. As the record kicks off with the titular track, my assumptions are verified: powerful, majestic and LOUD… Grande riffs and commanding cadences towering over you; feeling small now as you take it all in as you would a skyscraper from the ground. Demonaz doing what he does best during the entirety of “Wargod” and “Return to Cold”. The former one of the album’s lead cuts – a riff-heavy, groove-dominated bruiser and the latter a stylistic nod back to the days of the aforementioned “At the Heart of Winter”. Frigid and frosty Norwegian black metal with a well-executed contemporary touch but more than anything else, “War Against All” is a statement and possibly the result of an epiphany; one that sees Demonaz himself as all Immortal needs. There’s passion and inspiration anew just oozing through the brilliant surfaces of each track, and even a rare homage to black metal in its truest form to be heard and felt within each glorious minute of the instrumental, “Nordlandihr”. It appears that despite all the mainstream success and notoriety over the years that Demonaz is still very much in tune with the essence of black metal. A beautiful song, a display of world-dominating talent and a fine contribution to what’s been a work of perfection thus far.
Among the several of this album’s not-so-subtle statements, you’ll also find “Immortal” – an aggressive namesake cut that sees Demonaz in a state of pure early 90’s BM worship. The purest black metal to be taken in here. Sure, it’s polished and epic, but the spirit is there along with those classic early-scene-heralding, blazing with speed riffs and blast-beats. And alas a final statement is made during the album’s closing track, “Blashyrkh My Throne”, where not only do you get to hear even more of what makes this record great, but also bear witness to the last Immortal as he takes his seat upon one of the highest thrones in the black metal world. “War Against All” is a victory for Demonaz, Immortal and black metal. Valuable substance throughout the entire recording and just enough catchiness to make the experience memorable without it sounding too “mainstream”.
Perfection is achieved through wisdom and class; two characteristics that Demonaz happens to exude in spades. “War Against All” could mark the dawning of a new era for the project – the age of the lone warrior – a time for DDO’s quality in music/character to really shine without the distraction of other peoples personal problems or their jacked-up motives. Perfection is also the product of forces beyond one’s control. The planets must align as they say, and the timing must be spot on. We all needed some Immortal, and what we have here is a refreshed, rejuvenated version of the project. All passion afire once again during what will undoubtedly go down as one of the year’s best. Bravo.
Experience “Wargod” from “War Against All” right here as presented by Nuclear Blast Records: