Everyone into the extreme fields of Metal should know about IMMORTAL. This mighty band was formed in 1990 by Abbath and Demonaz. Demonaz had to retire after their “Blizzard Beasts” release, but only as a guitar player. Throughout the whole of IMMORTAL’s career he wrote the lyrics and was a member as crucial as those playing the instruments. It was Abbath and Demonaz who created the fantasy world Blashyrkh. The inspiration to this fantasy world was the Norwegian wilderness. The music on the other hand was clearly inspired by BATHORY, VENOM and CELTIC FROST, though in these ears IMMORTAL are heads above any of the aforementioned bands.
If you thought that “At The Heart Of Winter” was a sign that IMMORTAL had permanently dropped their pace, you were wrong. “Triumph” opens the record with a blast, really showing off Horgh’s ability as a drummer. The drums are laid with near militarian precision, but not anyway near the way drum machines sound. The guitar riffs away at a breakneck speed and the production/mix ensures that we hear every little detail. The Abyss Studio has been dreaded because it made all bands sound alike, IMMORTAL are the proof that the only reason some bands sound the same, is because they lack originality. (If you need further evidence take a listen to DAWN’s “Slaughtersun”) IMMORTAL have sounded like IMMORTAL since their Grieghallen days. The voice of Abbath alone makes sure IMMORTAL would be recognized with a total misanthropic necro production (Or “True” as some call it).
Anyway, after the blasting opener “Triumph” follows my favourite song of the album “Wrath From Above”. This song alone is worth the purchase of “Damned In Black”, the riff that’s being played over the blast beat is simply IMMORTAL like no one have, or ever will, sound. That’s why they deserve their name. Although IMMORTAL are history as a band, their music ensure them immortality as long as there are CD players around.
My other favourite song on “Damned In Black” is “The Darkness That Embrace Me”. A song that uses a bit of atmospheric synth parts. Like GEHENNA on their excellent “Adimiron Black”, the keys are not used to dominate the soundscape, just underlining the atmosphere. The best part of this song is the breakdown where Abbath starts singing his tribute to a winter land. I don’t know if he is referring to Norway or Blashyrkh, but anyway it’s very good and shows a new side of IMMORTAL. Unlike many other bands, IMMORTAL always explored within their own territory, always sounding like themselves. When picking up a new CD you didn’t need to worry about clean vocals or female soprano, or a heart wrenching ballad for that matter.
To call IMMORTAL a Black Metal band would be missing the point a bit. They don’t have a satanic image and the music itself can hardly be called Black Metal. Sure there is Black Metal influences, but there’s also some Thrash and Death Metal influences in the mix. To put it simple I call it Extreme Metal and I know that Abbath would agree more to that than being called a Black Metal band. Whenever they played this or that style is irrelevant, because IMMORTAL possessed qualities that made them more than just another band blasting their drums. All those who saw IMMORTAL live can testify that they delivered the goods even on stage. I’m sorry to report that I never saw them live and that I regret. Everywhere I’ve read, there has been praise thrown towards them. Knowing that IMMORTAL only have one guitarist (Abbath, Vocals/Guitar), only deepens the respect I have for them.
Now that IMMORTAL are gone it’s up to us to call on the ice-age, contribute by listening to the art of IMMORTAL. (Online April 20, 2005)