Review Summary: All Shall Fall is a beautiful return for fans of Immortal's previous works, but when tested in terms of creativity, their comeback album treads water
When one first listens to All Shall Fall
for the first time, it strikes uncanny resemblances to Immortal’s previous full-length album Sons Of Northern Darkness
. So it seems that over the course of seven years since Sons…
was released that our friends Abbath and Horgh haven’t really progressed at all, instead going for a sound which all of their fans are comfortable with, a sound which really hasn’t changed at all since their most famous album Pure Holocaust
. While the songwriting hasn’t progressed, it has been tightened up and cleaned around the edges. The melodies feel more epic, the drums are produced with a heavier low-end, the lyrics are even more grim and frostbitten, and Immortal is still, well, the same old goofy Immortal.
If you have heard 2002’s Sons Of Northern Darkness
, than you have already heard All Shall Fall
. The formula of success for Immortal once again shines through with lengthy, similar-sounding tracks which embrace some of the clichés of the genre while casting others aside. Overall, the production of the album is solid as a rock, every instrument (including bass) is clearly audible at all times, which is a welcome relief from the tendency for black metal bands nowadays to bring progression to a halt in favor of the same raw, intentionally under produced sound of the early 1990’s. The theatrics of Abbath and Horgh are also back with the addition of bassist Apollyon, this time not in the form of an embarrassing album cover featuring the band in awkward poses, but in the familiar pretentious song titles and lyrics which convey all that is black metal (namely winter, the north, and battles long ago).
The majority of the guitar department is really just re-hashed riffs which sound remarkably similar and nearly always move at the typical face-melting pace. The heavy use of tremolo picking makes each riff sound sinister and evil, sometimes breaking for a slower, more crushing bridge, but it’s hard to get over the fact that absolutely nothing new is introduced into Immortal’s sound. However, the beauty comes in the small moments when Abbath works in some mellow acoustic interludes and multiple guitar solos which fit the lightning-quick pace of the songwriting, utilizing a lot of tapping for a melodic overtone while still keeping the “shred, shred, shred” attitude present.
It’s nice to see that Immortal’s distinctive sound is kept alive and well, though, because when the album wants to be epic, it achieves that and more. Often, songs build toward an epic peak which lets itself loose in the form of one of the many impressive guitar solos which I mentioned earlier. This is a tactic which works well in getting the listener to really get into the music, making All Shall Fall
fairly accessible for a black metal album. All Shall Fall
isn’t an album which you will only play every once in a while, and it’s really easy to just listen to one track. I’d say this accessibility is the best part of the album, because it’s fairly simple to get into, yet it isn’t a completely enthralling album which requires all of your attention.
Throughout the album, there are moments where one wonders what Immortal would sound like if they took a step back and re-evaluated their sound. The longer songs here are definitely the best, with the title track “All Shall Fall”, “Norden On Fire”, and “Unearthly Kingdom” defining the album with their majestic leads and typical Immortal vocals. Abbath doesn’t change a thing with his delivery, something which can either be taken as a return to form or unwillingness to evolve. The rest of album contains a lot of filler which can be viewed as a safe, uneventful way of getting back into the swing of things. No song here is bad, each one has its own high and low points, it’s just that on many tracks the good and bad mix together far too often to bring anything rewarding out of the experience.
Seven years is quite a while between albums, especially for a band which had been consistently putting out new material every year or two from 1992 until 2002. While All Shall Fall
is a good album, it will most likely fall into the realm of Immortal’s other, less praised albums like Damned In Black
or Battles In The North
given a few months. For now, though, it is reassuring for fans that their favorite Norwegian gentlemen are back to wreak havoc on a dying scene, it’s just too early to tell whether their revival will fizzle out in a few years, or whether Immoral will continue with their sound of “grim and frostbitten” black metal. Until then, All Shall Fall
will mark a triumphant in spirit, albeit average and uninspired musically, return for Immortal to the world scene.