The departure of Abbath from Immortal nearly marked the end of the band; I wouldn’t blame them as he was easily the most recognizable member of the group. Here we are in 2018 and Immortal return as a two piece with Northern Chaos Gods, featuring Demonaz on guitars and vocals and Horgh on drums.
Demonaz hasn’t played on an album since 1997’s Blizzard Beasts due to severe tendonitis in his arms and he was thus relegated to lyric writing and has been credited on all the albums after that. Not only that, but the band has scaled back their approach and resembles much of the band that recorded Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism and Pure Holocaust.
There are various callbacks to Battles In The North on tracks like album closer “Mighty Ravendark” and “Gates To Blashyrkh,” both of which refer to when the band was a different two piece (Abbath and Demonaz). This feels very much like what Immortal had set out to play from day one; black metal with the chill of Norwegian ice and an epic battle playing out in front of you.
Demonaz’s playing is not as flashy as what Abbath had been doing before he left and went on to do his own thing, nor does it need to be. The tone is set with the interplay of Horgh’s battery being nearly dismantled by the end of the album’s 42 minute reign.
This album stands alone as a fine moment and return for one of the genre’s absolute cornerstone bands. It is hard not to compare to what this band was with what it now is and grade it on its own individual merit. All things considered, this is a very good black metal album in 2018 regardless of who recorded it. If you never got into the ’90s edition of Immortal, this should serve as a primer for what helped establish the band in the first place. Here’s to new beginnings!
(released July 6, 2018 on Nuclear Blast Records)
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Listen To Immortal – “Mighty Ravendark”