Review Summary: It may be an intentionally derivative work but fans of all things Immortal should enjoy the trip.
Despite a nine-year gap and a major lineup overhaul since 2009’s All Shall Fall, Immortal has hit a stylistic sweet spot with Northern Chaos Gods. The harsh, brittle style of the black metal legends’ 90s material is matched with the 2000s-era’s grandiosity without having to deal with the former era’s occasional sloppiness or the latter’s ultra-polished production. It’s a lot like At the Heart of Winter in execution, though what was a transitionary sound then feels more like a “best of both worlds” presentation now.
Demonaz’s first recorded appearance on an Immortal album since 1997’s Blizzard Beasts is certainly a welcome return. His time on the sidelines was not in vain as his guitar retains the speed and sharpness of the Pure Holocaust days while his vocal debut is marked by a series of fitting though nondescript rasps. Horgh’s signature snowstorm drumming serves as the grand equalizer of all the styles on display though Peter Tagtgren’s bass ends up buried in the process. Considering how this is Tagtgren’s fifth Immortal album in the producer’s chair and bass has never been this band’s strong suit, I imagine he isn’t too broken up about it.
As heralded by the title track and “Mighty Ravendark” not only serving as lead singles but also album bookends, the eight songs on here represent the two sides of Immortal quite nicely. In fact, it may represent them a little too well as the tracks are evenly divided between faster paced songs and the band’s signature mid-tempo anthems. The faster songs do run together at times and there are progressions lifted directly from classic songs but tracks like “Gates to Blashrykh” and “Where Mountains Rise” are poised to become future Immortal standards.
Northern Chaos Gods is designed to reassure fans more than revolutionize the black metal scene, but all the recent shifts and band drama result in one of Immortal’s strongest outings to date. Demonaz proves to be a capable leader, effectively injecting an old school aesthetic into the band’s grim and frostbitten vision. It may be an intentionally derivative work but fans of all things Immortal should enjoy the trip.
“Northern Chaos Gods”
“Gates to Blashrykh”
“Where Mountains Rise”
Originally published at http://indymetalvault.com