It’s albums like these that makes me grin from ear to ear let me tell you. When this project was announced a while back I didn’t know what musical direction Abbath and co would take since his post-IMMORTAL profile has been rather inconspicuous, with him only (to my knowledge) providing guest vocals on DIMMU BORGIR’s “Deathcult Armageddon” album back in 2003. Well, here I am with a copy of I’s debut album “Between Two Worlds” and, thank Thor, it is a real barnburner!!
The style to be found on this album can be best described as ‘Blackened Heavy Metal’, as it expertly toes the line between IMMORTAL’s past Black-isms and the more traditional elements of Metal. In fact, if you liked albums like “At The Heart Of Winter” and “Sons Of Northern Darkness” you’ll love what the guys have presented us on “Between Two Worlds”. With his main band now reunited Abbath has once again risen to prominence in the Metal world and this album shows that he is still one of the most gifted minds in his field. The songwriting is superb across the board, with only the title track being a slight letdown. “The Storm I Ride” is a brilliant opener with an addictive driving main riff backed up by Abbath’s unmistakable vocals and a mesmerizing instrumental section at 1:48-2:39. “Warriors” brings back that “At The Heart Of Winter” feeling, while “Battalions” hammers home with militant authority, its forceful riffing and “Pure Holocaust”-style vocals making it an instant classic in this reviewer’s book. But it doesn’t end there – “Days Of North Winds” is an atmospheric tour de force with serene soloing and more thunderous riffs, while “Far Beyond The Quiet” is an exercise of Metal mastery in the best BATHORY (“Blood On Ice” era) tradition. The closer “Cursed We Are” caps off the album with some very impressive Speed Metal (underlying) riffing and an amazing clean/gruff vocal performance by Abbath.
This album is very close to perfection in all aspects. It’s busting at the seams with unbridled passion and energy, and it is evident after just one listen that this is the result of many months of hard work. The production is strong with all instruments being allowed to breathe, while the riffing is out of this world. Overall this sounds like the album Abbath always wanted to make – it contains all the elements that made IMMORTAL such a respected name in the Metal world but here they are presented in less caustic style, topped off with a classic Heavy Metal sheen. Props would also have to go to bassist TC King (a.k.a. King Ov Hell) – this man has had a hand in some of the year’s best Metal albums, whether it’s the Doom and gloom of SAHG’s “I”, the hateful Black assault of GORGOROTH’s “Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam”, or the epic Black/Heavy Metal present here.
I could probably go on about this album forever. It is an amazing debut from some of the most visionary minds in the Metal world at the moment. I also love the fact that they managed to conjure such an immense atmosphere without having to resort to the keyboard/female vocal wankery so prevalent in so many bands’ sound nowadays. If this is any indication as to the direction the forthcoming IMMORTAL album(s) might take then I’m all for it. This is the sound of masters in full flight, and it doesn’t deserve respect – it goddamn demands it.
A debut album for the ages and an indispensable listen if you have an ear for well-crafted Metal that’s played from the heart. This one will definitely end up in my year end top 10!
(Online December 7, 2006)