Since Immortal's formation in 1989 they have since became one of the definitive black metal bands. After recording a few demos under the name "Amputation" the band's style drastically changed to black metal in 1991 after renaming themselves "Immortal". They released several records under the French label Osmose, including the legendary Pure Holocaust
. It wasn't until Horgh took up the sticks as drummer in '96 that the band had a stable line-up, but in '97 original member Demonaz was incapacitated with acute tendonitous in his hand. Demonaz continued writing as Abbath took over guitar duty. Afterward Immortal released what is arguable their best album, At the Heart of Winter
. Even the signing to major label Nuclear Blast didn't affect their hardcore style, as proved in Sons of Northern Darkness
The album succumbs to the brutal opener One by One
. Classic black metal drumming (aka blast beats) is featured, as well as some nice heavy riffs. What immediately is the sound quality is remarkably good, as every instrument cuts throguh nice and clear. The riffs progress and only get heavier (while still retaining the high pitch sound). The drums in the main verse sections are absolutely crazy sounding. The work wonderfully underneath the merciless shrieking of Abbath. Three minutes in the brief breaks start providing a little air to those who can't stand the full-on metal-mania spiked-foot-in-your-ass
style of true Norwegian black metal (yes, cheesey line). This is a very solid opener and a good glimpse of what is to come. The title track (definitely the title track, not arguable) Sons of Northern Darkness
starts with some sexcellent Horgh drumming. It is followed with some interesting guitar sounds. The sections with the slower riffs and blast beats soundincredible. Just over a minute and a half there is a great slow part. The guitars echo with lead riffs and sound amazing. The drums are solid with double bass that is perfectly placed under Abbath's unique vocals. This is consisten until the closing of the song with ends on an extreme guitar solo ( :confused: ). Some sweet fast shredding takes place, but it's over pretty soon.
Following those amazing songs is another great track, Tyrants
. It evidently becomes quite the slow song, and for some reason Saroth's bass becomes very audible. Abbath's voice sounds distant and echoes - whetehr or not it was intentional, it was a great effect. The music throughout carries a great melody and flows beautifully. Dammit, I think we have a stand out track. Most would never think of a black metal song as being described as 'beautiful', but this comes dangerously close. After an interesting stringed instrument break, the music comes back in full force most notably with some ridiculously fast double bass action. Near the end of the song a second guitar is recroded into the song playing a great lead riff. As we proceed, Demonium
goes back to the classic chaotic black metal roots. Insanely fast drumming with plenty of blast beats to go around, constant high pitched guitar riffs and the much needed shrieking screams. Good stuff. It stays nice and dark the entire duration with a great rhythm. Face it; every black metal album needs at least one song like Demonium
Another insane guitar solo is featured. Damn
, these guys can play.
To follow it up we have Within the Dark Mind
. It begins with and keeps a good steady pace with some dark riffs and solid drumming (is it ever not solid?). This track is another with a great flowing melody. This structure is repeated for quite a while. Over three and a half minutes in some clean guitars start to ring and it fits the feel of the song pretty well. Nearing the end comes another great solo. Slower than the others but sounds...dare I say, superb? And who could be without In My Kingdom Cold
? This song combines the softer flowing songs with heavier songs like Demonium
. It has the slow guitar riffs combined with the crazy fast drumming of Horgh, not to mention a few artfully placed pinch harmonics in the beginning. The sweet leads riffs are featured once again backed by more double bass (I think I smell smoke...). The music repeats itself for a while, and I'm pretty sure the lyrics do to. But Abbath dornws himself in a low ptch shriek carried for about thirty seconds at the 3:30 mark. Some heavy palm muted riffs are featured. Perhaps it drones on a little too long, but at least they had something good to carry through for seven and a half minutes.
Track seven brings the aptly named Antarctica
. Why is it aptly named? Because to me, the album seems to carry a theme of being cold and wintery. Well, that's Norway for you. After fifty seconds of some eerie noises, the music comes crashing in brutally. The riffs are chunky and heavy. It's heavily instrumental for two and a half minutes. Vocals are dispersed throughout, but it is quite an instrumental track. It goes on with a solid length of 7:15. A decent track but there's no point in really waiting out the entire seven minutes since it's kind of repetitive. The record is wrapped up with the longest song yet, Beyond the North Waves
. Some strange sounding clean guitars open up the track. They sound hollow and have some interesting effects. The rest of the band comes in and the music joins the dark side of the force. It does sound quite eerie, retaining a slow tempo and some saddening lead riffs. The strategically placed double bass makes sort of an evil atmosphere. Half way through the speed picks up slightly, but the mood stays on the depressing side. After five and a half minutes, lead guitar dominates the song with some sounds that only accent what we've seen so far. But of course near the end, it definitely gets good. Excellent lead riffs, heavier drums, and a faster speed give the song a cool feel. The album ends with several long sustained screams from Abbath.
To put it bluntly, the is an incredible album. Every song is amazing. The sound is a little heavier - and in some spots more complex - than traditional black metal, not to mention the lack of ****ty sound
. Immortal goes back to the basics with very little synth effects or noises other than their own instruments and executes the plan wonderfully. This CD should be in the posession of any black metal enthusiast, and more importantly, anyone who truly considers themself a metalhead. One of Immortal's finest.
- Fast, heavy, and cold
- Good musicianship
- Great variation among tracks
- Not as black metal as past releases
- Immortal's last album
Within the Dark Mind