July 2, 2018 Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods (Album Review)
As one of the most genuine and creative Black Metal bands out there without Satanic lyrics or a dangerous past, Immortal is at it again, despite a major setback with their 2015 break-up which left lead singer Abbath to part ways and carry on the tunes with his solo band. Now, for the first Immortal release in nine years, the remaining members -Demonaz Doom Occulta (Harald Nævdal) on vocals and guitar, and Horgh (Reidar Horghagen) on drums – are regaining momentum with the upcoming release of Northern Chaos Gods on Friday, July 6th, 2018, via Nuclear Blast Records.
Hailing strong since the early nineties with only one small hiatus, Norway-based Immortal has been a major influence on the Black Metal scene throughout the years, giving plentiful darkness to the needy in their most reflective times of peril. While it remains questionable among fans as to whether the departure of the beloved jokester Abbath has hindered the band’s progress towards future success, the latest release of Northern Chaos Gods definitely holds its own with a vengeance.
The album starts off with the title track spanning over four minutes of Black Metal antics of cleanly flowing riffs with the scratchy demonic growls of Demonaz boasted over the classic Heavy Metal hits interspersed with the evil blast beats of Horgh. Directly riding into the song titled “Into Battle Ride” there is more of the same bold and crisp sound to follow.
As a ninth studio album and one that was made utilizing only two players, the outcome is wholeheartedly well-received. The creative elements that Abbath excelled at do not go without remembrance, yet as a good example of a song that can do no wrong, the track with Demonaz in the lead “Gates To Blashyrkh” prides itself as the most exciting and original tune on the whole album. It does not end there, however, as the next song “Grim And Dark” exemplifies the suffrage of mankind in an appropriately grueling way, and it has all the catchiness and dark riffs that would do well in any live setting as well.
A slight change of pace begins with “Where Mountains Rise,” as it starts slow and melodic then transforms into an effortless sounding lineage of power and mayhem. Onwards to blast beat central, the tune “Blacker Of Worlds” rages into the forefront with all the blackened force Immortal is capable of. Demonaz does a great job on the vocals in this tune, capturing the blackened hearts of all those in his path. Finalizing the eight-track album is a well-structured, nine-plus-minute finale called “Mighty Ravendark” that explores the inner-realms of Black Metal with promise. It certainly serves as a treat with its length, although it could be slightly shorter and not sound incomplete.
As a character trait that is predominantly missing in the Northern Chaos Gods, Abbath used to incorporate a classic Heavy Metal and NWOBHM style of playing into his guitar solos, while Demonaz sticks more to the simple, catchy blackened riffs that are neither harm nor foul but serve as a clear noticeable difference. It is definitely a plus to see Immortal return in one form or another and half the dark heart of the band remains, so to keep the name seems justified.
For that true Black Metal love, seek out the latest Immortal album Northern Chaos Gods, and perhaps one day they will embark on a North American tour to support this new work. For all these reasons above and a commanding effort without Abbath to ease the burden, CrypticRock gives Northern Chaos Gods 4 out of 5 stars.