What we have here is probably one of the most cult-like Black Metal albums ever: “Pure Holocaust”, released in 1993 by IMMORTAL, who have split up in the meantime. To be honest, I didn’t expect very much of this album, some old school Black Metallers always praised it endlessly, but the average Metal fans rather described it as monotonous, boring blasting without any structure and a common thread. But as it was the only IMMORTAL album I didn’t have yet along with the debut “Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism”, I finally bought it nevertheless. And I was pretty surprised.
Similar to its follow-up „Battles In The North“ (1995), „Pure Holocaust“ is purely insane (no bad pun intended). Even today the speed at which Abbath (vocals, bass, drums) and Demonaz (guitars) blast through the songs is still impressive, just like the icy Grieghallen sound and Demonaz’s frosty riffs and solos. Each track is a small masterpiece and despite all the critics who call this album monotonous no song sounds like another to these ears. Sometimes they are relentlessly fast and cold (“A Sign For The Norse Hordes To Ride”), sometimes they rather sound sinister and evil (“The Sun No Longer Rises”) and sometimes there’s even something solemn, anthemic about them (“As The Eternity Opens”), as was the case more often with later IMMORTAL material.
Add to this Abbath’s raspy voice, the absolutely neat cover, the downright epic song titles and lyrics that can only be written by Demonaz. I guess I don’t need to say a lot about their contents, those who know the band know which topics the norsemen deal with preferably: winter, coldness, darkness. In my opinion though, they aren’t translated into music as well on the three other classic IMMORTAL albums (“Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism”, “Battles In The North”, “Blizzard Beasts”) as they are here, with “Diabolical…” the focus rather was on darkness, I personally find “Battles…” a bit weaker than “Pure…” and to be honest I can’t really get into the Death Metal elements on “Blizzard…”. I’ll ignore the bands latest three albums for now because, although all of them are ingenius, they differ stylistically from IMMORTAL’s early days and can’t be compared to the early works.
So, if you like anything from IMMORTAL, then give this musical snowstorm a chance. (Online April 30, 2005)