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
. After Demonaz's dropping from the line-up, they go back to two man set-up with Abbath cover vocals, guitars, and bass with Horgh guarding his territroy behind the set. In case you hadn't noticed, I plagurized much of my own review due to laziness and impatience.
The two-man Norwegian legan bursts out in '99 with At the Heart of Winter with the astonishing track, Withstand the Fall of Time
. The intro guitar sounds great with the drums playing some very percussive beats. Once the blast beat begin the song movs forward in full force. The drumming is consistent and the guitars play a great melody. Two minutes in the bass does a slidey thing and the guitar moves to heavy power chords producing some chunkier riffs. It moves on, and in time the guitar goes to leads riffs that are truely amazing. The drums go insane for a little bit and take the original structure and amplify it by about x10. The sound is reletively linear for another two minutes until the tempo picks up. The drums go back to blast beats and finally some more vocals come in. The song fades out and does not disappoint. The incredible follower, Solarfall
, could very well be one of my favorite black metal songs ever. The guitar and drums both move at high speeds while the guitar keeps an amazingly melodic sound. It gets heavier just before the vocals, while Horgh shows off his double bass skill. Later on the clean guitars echo dramatically and the drums do a low pitch roll type thing (I'm not a drummer). I love that part. Luckily they do it a couple times. As the song draws to a close, the power drumming and melodic guitars collide in an amazing instrumental.
Tragedies Blows at Horizons
proced a decent comeback from the last epic. The breaks that leave the guitars doing it's own thing sound cool. The song itself is moderately paced but nothing special in the main sections. It's all drums at varying speeds until another awesome clean section. Abbath really knows his stuff. The drums only help accent it. The rest really doesn't have much variation. It's all the main riffs repeated with the sweet clean section thrown in for good measure. Maybe a little too repetitive, but they has some amazing stuff packed into that one song. To proceed is to go Where Dark and Light Don't Differ
. This song combines more melodic leads with dark sounding power chords. Abbath's voice sounds altered to be more evil at first, but it works. He sounds like he's half growling and it works to make him sound other worldly. His voice echoes pretty well through most of the track. Four minutes in is a great black metal shred. Abbath tears shit
up with good effects for a little bit.
Why yes, At the Heart of Winter
is the title track. Some nice clean guitars open the song sounding dark and depressing. Really good stuff. This is a haunting intro that everyone has to hear right now. The synth stuff afterward sounds not quite as good but it does the trick. Once the distortion is switched on, the song has definite traces of old 80s metal. Don't worry, I'm as lost as you. Of course Abbath's voice changes all that (but the guitars disagree). It's like they stole main riff right out from under Ozzy's nose. They play some interesting variations on it followed by some of the most emotional black metal leads ever. This stuff is truly amazing. Just under six minutes in Abbath breaks into another crazy guitar shredfest. It only lasts a few seconds, but cherish that time. And finally, we have Years of Silent Sorrow
. The final song comes crashing in right from the get go with the highly energized drums and some howling guitar sounds to match. Some slow and piercing guitar sounds are played quite often. Abbath goes in and out of heavy power chords ridles with pinch harmonics. Half way through more great leads are played. It compliments the vocals quite well, whic are loewr and sound like Abbath have some kind of stomach problem. All those riffs are alternated in different orders and played until the end of the song. Not too bad.
A black metal landmark. This is arguably Immortal's best release to date. It's quite the epic album, and comes packed to the gills with memorable riffs and melodic sections. The diehard black metaler may want this, but this might be too harsh for the more commercial listener. But I'm sure there are plenty of people around here who could appreciate it.
- True black metal and very unique
- Great musicianship
- Endless amounts of riffs and solos throughout
- Songs get extremely boring after a while
- Production could be better
Withstand the Fall of Time
At the Heart of Winter