Thursday, September 7, 2023

Full Length Review: Immortal "War Against All" (Nuclear Blast) by Dave Wolff

Band: Immortal
Location: Bergen
Country: Norway
Genre: Black metal
Full length: War Against All
Format: Digital album
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release date: May 26, 2023
Immortal is back again and I look forward to embarking on another journey into the realms of cold darkness I have visited numerous times in the past. After some time away (during which he managed and penned lyrics for the band), guitarist Demonaz Doom Occulta returned in 2007, with a new band simply called Demonaz, releasing a demo and later a full-length.
Many believe that he has revived Immortal with the release of "War Against All", while others suggest that he is simply trying to recapture the glory days of the band. As for myself, I’ve always been a fan, so I’m pleased to receive one more album from them. Especially after Demonaz suffered from tendonitis, discontinued music for years, was involved in several legal disputes with Abbath (bass, vocals) and Horgh (drums) around the time of their departure, and eventually became the band's sole member.
Putting all that aside to listen to new material, there is something refreshing about it. From a musical and conceptual standpoint, "War Against All" holds its own as an Immortal album. Had I not known better, I would have assumed he and Abbath were performing with a full band. However, it is entirely a solo effort (albeit recorded with session musicians), and his writing and instrumentation manage to create a balance between the "Battles in the North" and "Damned in Black" eras, blending classic and thrash metal elements with epic overtones that are present without overextending themselves.
"War Against All" is especially effective because it begins without a preamble or introduction, announcing the band's return in no uncertain terms. Demonaz's material tends to sound formulaic at times, but occasional hints of atmosphere in the guitars demonstrate that he is still evolving as a musician. From the guitar progressions to the bass and drums to the time changes and mood transitions, everything is tight and vibrant, and the guitars channel their immersion into an endless expanse of cold darkness in which the sun does not shine, and your flesh and inner organs are frozen from within.
Moreover, the lyrics channel these images with strong conviction as much as the musicianship. This effect is further enhanced by the vocals, which serve as another instrument and convey that same impression of being frozen in time. This quality is important because the lyrics of tracks such as "Wargod", "Return to Cold" and "Blashyrkh My Throne" are written in such a way that you feel you’re returning to the mythical realm of Blashyrkh, and experiencing a sudden resurgence of life in those endless expanses of snow and frost. It feels like you’re listening to one of Immortal’s classic releases.
It is not clear whether this will be Immortal's swan song, or a new beginning for the band. However, if you're a longtime fan you'll get a lot from it. –Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. War Against All
2. of Darkness
3. Wargod
4. No Sun
5. Return to Cold
6. Nordlandihr
7. Immortal
8. Blashyrkh My Throne

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