Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the name Immortal should speak loads to every extreme metal fan. In the decade between 1992 and 2002, the Bergen residents released seven albums, at least four of which are absolute black metal classics. The core of the band in this first era were front man and bassist Abbath and guitar player, composer and lyricist Demonaz. Equally legendary drummer Horgh entered the picture for 1997s Blizzard Beasts, while, at the same time, Demonaz’ problems with severe tendinitis forced him to step down from playing the guitar, but he still kept writing lyrics and managing the band. After Immortal’s initial disbandment in 2003, the band reunited to record All Shall Fall in 2009, which was the last album with Abbath in the line-up. Another incarnation of the band with only Demonaz (now also handling vocals and again playing the guitar) and Horgh, helped by Peter Tägtgren on bass, released the back-to-the-roots Northern Chaos Gods in 2018, but it all fell apart once again and now, in 2023, Demonaz is the sole remaining member of Immortal.
The aptly-titled War Against All will be released on May 26th and features eight brand-new songs within less than 40 minutes. The album was produced by Arve Isdal (a.k.a. Ice Dale from Enslaved and Audrey Horne), and recorded at Conclave & Earshot Studio in Bergen by Herbrand Larsen and Arve Isdal. Arve also performed bass on the album, while the drum parts were recorded by Kevin Kvåle (Gaahls Wyrd). The opening straightforward riff of the title track and the furious tempo show that the path taken upon in Northern Chaos Gods is continued here. War Against All is much closer in sound and spirit to At The Heart Of Winter than to Damned In Black or All Shall Fall. The first minute of Thunders Of Darkness on the other hand is like something straight out of the Pleasure To Kill rulebook. The new songs sound deliberately old school but still very epic and a great example comes with Wargod, featuring an old, forgotten riff, which shows just how much of an influence Celtic Frost and Bathory have had on Immortal. No Sun (my favorite of the bunch), Return To Cold and Immortal are all furious blastbeat-filled black metal hammers, with fantastic production and impressive vocals by Demonaz.
The more epic, somehow melancholic and fantasy-inspired side of the new album is represented by the mighty instrumental centerpiece Nordlandihr (total Bathory worship!) and the triumphant closer Blashyrkh My Throne, which is as good as anything in At The Heart Of Winter. The inspiration, conviction and determination shown by Demonaz in these last two Immortal albums cannot be denied and I just can’t find even one reason why War Against All should not be mentioned in the same line with Battles In The North or Sons Of Northern Darkness. The melodies, the windswept, chill-inducing atmosphere, inspiring lyrics, the aggression and speed, and super professional playing are all ticked and even if the band of the past is now a one-man-show, the true spirit of Immortal is alive again and, as Demonaz promised us in an interview, so it will be.
War Against All will be out on May 26th and can be pre-ordered from HERE