Somewhere in the midst of IMMORTAL’s grand triumph in the early 2000s, when the blackened throne of Blashyrkh had been set upon the ruin and corpses of rival and ally alike, the emperor looked down at his conquered empire and decided to claim another one. But not long after flying the flag of triumph in a more measured, reminiscent manner via “I”, the old tyrant spread his raven cloak and returned to place his boot upon the neck of all whom oppose, and with it came a live album containing 11 unfettered celebrations of past conquests. And one thing becomes clear from the selected anthems of dark glory; these three kings of northern darkness have a very preferentially based view of their own past.
If there is one thing that marks “The Seventh Date Of Blashyrkh”, it is a desire to keep the hordes of warrior cultists pleased, hence an absence of any transitional album offerings. Indeed, the olden days of BATHORY praise that were “Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism” present a different picture of the band as mischievous warlocks rather than grand heroes under the raven’s mark, and clash with the modern Death/Thrash infused character that started taking hold on “Battles In The North”. By the same token, the over Death Metal nods to MORBID ANGEL and other early Florida outfits heard on “Blizzard Beasts” carry a different feel than the measured chaos of “At The Heart Of Winter” and beyond.
In short, what emerges here is two heavily contrasted embodiments of IMMORTAL, manifesting as both the body in their latter day works, and its shadow via the offerings off of “Pure Holocaust” and “Battles In The North”. The dominant of these two comes off at its strongest during the renditions of various songs from “Sons Of Northern Darkness”, with perhaps the aforementioned album’s title track being the zenith of what captures the spirit of this performance. It’s a powerful, cohesive balance of epic sounds and chaotic blasts, culminating in Abbath’s frosty growl and chilling riff work. This is a genre of Metal that generally doesn’t lends itself to being well accomplished with one guitar in the live setting, but here the whole arrangement sounds dense and complete, even during the occasional lead breaks where only bass and drum keep up the background.
But the strongest element at play here is the band’s semi-theatrical tendencies, providing a modern answer to the riveting imagery put on by KISS three decades prior. Pyrotechnics and smoke machines are employed with almost the same level of exaggeration as a typical METALLICA or GUNS N’ ROSES concert. The chief ingredient that puts this over the top, and one that is often lost when viewing a number of live concerts in this genre, is the darkness of night draped over the stage and audience. This is a style that, even when in the most accessible merging of Quorthon’s occult and Viking themes, requires a dark atmosphere to truly grip the audience and communicate the implicit sentiments of the genre. Dare I say, no Black Metal band should ever perform live unless at night, and in this respect, one of the consequential pioneers of the second wave has not forgotten where they’ve come from, though their sound has evolved a good bit.
This DVD could not have been better and more appropriate to its subjects, though the absence of a handful of irrefutable classics, including a few lost souls from the “Blizzard Beasts” album, does detract a slight bit. Abbath and company are about as into their craft as can be expected, never missing a note, nor a morose muttering between the blinding flurry of tremolo riffing and blasting. Not to mention that the guitar tone on here is a perfect recreation of the studio sound that has typified the band since “At The Heart Of Winter”. Sharpen your swords, grab your Nordic war paint and prepare minions of Blashyrkh, yet another mystical outing into the snowy landscapes of eternal night awaits.
(Online January 18, 2012)