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Ever since injury forced his untimely retirement from playing guitar, Demonaz has never been really been too far away from music, but it’s fair to say he’s kept a fairly low profile. Continuing the lyric writing and often the day-to-day running of Immortal, it was also nice to see him involved with Abbath’s I project a few years back, and this belated solo outing could in many ways be seen as a spiritual successor to the cracking ‘Between two worlds’ CD.
How a guitarist unable to play guitar ought to proceed is an interesting conundrum, but the solution is a fairly simple one – after making a career as a lyricist, he is finally singing his own words. Much of the I-Team has been roped in again, Armagedda happy to keep working behind the kit and Ice Dale this time handling all guitars and bass (Abbath presumably too busy elsewhere and ousted Gorgoroth traitor King thankfully nowhere in sight), so it is of little surprise that ‘March of the norse’ feels very much like a companion piece to the other project.
After well over a decade out of the frontline, it might have been a worry for some that Demonaz would try and spread his wings a little and venture into new territory, but thankfully he has stuck to the old ‘write what you know’ axiom. Indeed, strip away the ballsier traditional metal elements to ‘Between two worlds’ and further ramp up the good old Bathory influences and you’d probably find yourself with a CD not too far removed from this one. The sweeping, frigid grandiosity of songs like “Mountains” and “Far beyond the quiet” are taken to the full here, and all 7 full songs tread similar icy paths.
Containing elements of black, viking and traditional metal, but not enough of any to be fully pegged as such, it is a CD that will no doubt turn off some purists from any of those movements, but captivate those who appreciate a bit of fluidity between genre boundaries. While it isn’t exactly one-note stuff, it would be fair to say that most of the songs are based around a similar formula. Steadfastly marching riffs inexorably drive things along a frozen trail, while echoic choirs and scything melodic guitar segments convey a desolate atmosphere. The short running time of 40 minutes (counting the worthwhile instrumental bonus track) is a good fit for this approach, and prevents the CD from wearing out its welcome.
The main man’s ability as a vocalist is probably the aspect the sound most likely to be under the microscope, and while its easy to see why Abbath ended up with the singing duties back in Immortal’s formative years, Demonaz does well with what he has. His voice is similar to his black brother’s famed bullfrog croak, though more limited and far less fierce. Indeed, much of the verses aren’t a great deal more than him speaking in an affected growl, but he is mixed well enough in with the musical backdrops that in the end his voice feels like a fine fit. The choirs and harmonizing melodic guitar lines are well used to augment the lead vocals in key places, and to his credit he even manages what almost passes for some melodic singing on the mighty chorus to “A son of the sword”.
If there is any justifiable complaint to be made, it could be argued that the music here may sound a little over familiar following on from both I’s debut and Immortal bustling fully back to chaotic life in recent years. But form another point of view, you can’t get too much of a good thing, and from that perspective “March of the norse” is another welcome addition to the Doom Occulta stable.
(Originally written for http://www.metalcdratings.com/)
When Demonaz, the former guitarist of Immortal, releases a solo album, one is quickly tempted to assume that this will be a collection of Immortal B-riffs. Nothing could be further from the truth. The intro, “Northern Hymn”, sets the tone for the rest of the album: pure Bathory worship! As the songs progress, it becomes obvious that the entire album stylistically holds the middle between “Blood Fire Death” and “Hammerheart”, but nevertheless with its own identity.
Tasteful riffing, melancholic leads, moody acoustic parts, subtle yet very fitting, stripped down drumming, good vocal work - everything seems to fit perfectly on “March of the Norse”. One could try to look for highlights and standout tracks, but the truth is that all the songs synergistically contribute to the same heroic and cold atmosphere that makes this album so incredibly addictive.
“March of the Norse” simply is a great metal record that hopefully manages to surpass the superficial notion of being a mere Immortal side project. The project Demonaz stands on its own and frankly shows much more maturity than Immortal ever did.
I can only hope that Demonaz has more material like this up his sleeve.
Let's get some things clear. I'm in love with this record. I'm not a fanboy of Demonaz and I'm not a huge fan of black metal.
The album gives of a really cold-sounding production as heard on Immortal albums and isn't a huge departure from the usual work of Demonaz. I would describe this album as a "Viking New Wave of British Heavy Metal" album. There's a galloping rhythm section going on with the guitars and some very nice guitar harmonies. The songs are what you would call mid-tempo and the structures are almost identical, so there's not much variety at all. I still can't stop myself from listening to it, but I can very easily see that someone would be really turned off by this fact, and I won't judge you.
The lyrics are inspired by the great rascals of the north, Vikings, and the vocals are of the raspy, black metal kind...and I like ém! They're not over the top and there are loads of epic choir-baking vocals happening throughout the album. The album itself is pretty atmospheric and connects with me on a subconscious level.
I really love this album despite its flaws. I'd say that you give it a try and if you like a song, you will probably like the whole album. It's just a question of if you can stand to listen to that many identical songs in a row. Give it a try. I fucking love it. 9/10.
Abbath and Demonaz are best friends forever. If one of them buys himself a BMX bike, the other must have one, too. How else would they go biking in the Blashyrkh mountains? Thus, Demonaz has made his effort in creating a solo album.
When Abbath unleashed "Between Two Worlds" it was easy to like it: it has drive, it has energy, it is a truly entertaining mixture between Bathory, Immortal, punk rock, thrash, and some classical metal influences. Demonaz works basically with the same ingredients.
What both albums - I's "Between Two Worlds" and this album - have in common is their display of love for the epic times in Bathory's discography. Apart from that, the differences between the two projects are really so negligible that it is almost pointless to list them: different voice, more melodies, maybe more pathos, less thrash, dryer production. But in essence, this album could really just be another album by Abbath.
That is why this album is really nothing one has to have heard. Neither can it compete with its paragons, nor is it really better than Abbath's solo project. What to do with such a release? Get it if you must listen to the newest Nuclear Blast release. Leave it be, if you do not feel the urge to listen to another "Between Two Worlds".
Coldness and darkness has a charm all its own, independent of whatever tale may be caught in its grasp. If the atmosphere fits and the feel is glorious to the point of being approved by the 4 winds alluded to by Manowar, there is little reason to complain. These topics always come up whenever anyone connected to the Immortal franchise is concerned, and original composer and continued lyricist Demonaz Doom Occulta could be seen as the next in a generation of storytellers to arise since Quorthon popularized the Nordic trend of frosty landscapes and Viking lore. He has yet to produce anything unworthy of praise, perhaps in large part because he never roams too far from home, and “March Of The Norse” is yet another in his all but perfect succession of projects.
If one project could be directly alluded to as the closest to what this album has to offer, “I” would be the point of reference, minus some of the overt Motörhead influences. Then again, given the dense layering of baritone background choirs and brisk keyboard landscapes, an equal case could be made for the more grandiose endeavors of the Viking era of Bathory, namely “Twilight Of The Gods” and the two “Nordland” opuses. The stoic melodic contours and disciplined guitar work definitely tilts towards a typical successor of latter day Immortal, which is about the same story as “I”, but there is also a conceptual, single dimensional approach that gives the feel of a continuous singular song. Minus Demonaz’s gravely mutterings, which are somewhere between Abbath’s orc-speak and Quorthon’s latter day semi-shout, this is all but a perfect reliving of the primeval 80s character of heavy metal where the format is methodical and formulaic, to the point of being overly predictable, yet carried well based on the quality of ideas.
It might be difficult to construe this as being a complement for any reputable band putting forth a blackened metal album, but what has been rendered here is something that is probably fitter for radio than anything popular bands like Cradle Of Filth and Dimmu Borgir. The choirs are catchy to the point of being a sheer viral assault on the ears, the structuring is extremely easy to follow and get lost in, and what little flash is put forth by current Enslaved technician Arve Isdal (aka Ice Dale) is extremely restrained and lacks any of the chaotic abruptnesses of Abbath’s leads. The only thing that could possibly explain a humbler exposure for this is that Demonaz isn’t a sensationalist trying to draw upon either sexual or occult based shock devices. Apart from some esoteric types who occasionally like to lose themselves in elaborate lyrical illustrations about a mostly familiar subject, this is still something that is exclusively oriented towards a non-hipster audience.
In a sense, “March Of The Norse” is probably among the closest attempts at constructing a perfectly consistent conceptual work in this style, save perhaps “Nordland II”. There isn’t really a highlight in terms of quality, no singular riveting song that defines the whole album. This is an album that fully embraces the one dimensional tendencies of this sort of endeavor and makes it work. The acoustic passages are all interrelated with each other thematically, the pace is generally upper mid-tempo, and melodic expositions and recapitulations can be found from start to finish. The only outlier to speak of is the somewhat more traditional heavy metal tinged bonus song “Dying Sun”, which listens closer to something that belongs on the next “I” album, if there should be another one. I guess maybe one could also point to “Under The Great Fires” as it contains all of the elements of the album in a singular song and features Demonaz putting on his most versatile performance, which is quite good considering the obvious limitations in his vocal range.
Ultimately, despite being a very praiseworthy work for a guy who has been largely out of the music writing business for a while, this is largely a rock solid yet not quite astounding work. In much the same way as the first “Nordland” installment, there’s still a fair amount of room for growth and variety, though a simpler format still would be the overall drive for any album like this. It’s the kind of album that is fit for an arena of maddened metal and Viking enthusiasts, yet it’s not quite up to the level of “I” or about half of the Immortal catalog. But pretty much anyone who follows Demonaz’s past works should be able to get into this, though few converts will likely be made outside of the usual adherents.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on June 7, 2011.
Given what had befallen poor Senior Doom Occulta, one would wonder if he’d end up making music again outside of just being a lyricist. Then again, I’m not too aware of the extent of his arm-nerve-based hardships to know how long it would take to recover (if he ever did at all), but I suppose it was only a matter of time until he was able to get out from behind the blinding snowstorm of Immortal and do things in a different manner. Which resulted in this solo effort on his part (obviously).
And so, with all that said, how does it fare in the scheme of things beyond the permafrost of Blashyrk?
I’ll tell you this, at least; any real comparison between this and his main musical day job are pretty few and far between. Obviously, there’s a touch of the Immortal coldness present in the riffs and song structures, as old habits really die hard, but this thing is an entity all its own in the end. The terrifyingly violent speed of old is instead replaced with a far more melodic half-pace that’s part of Immortal’s later works, but not in as grandiose a way. Of course, there’s a sensation of effort on Demonaz’ part in terms of the songwriting, and the guitars, bass, and drums go through their motions with a minimum of fuss, piss and vinegar, but the overall feel of it doesn’t really come off as a real necessary listen, the way I see it. There’s a chance that many Doom Occulta fan boys would clamor for this like that first sip of coffee in the morning, but I, unfortunately, didn’t really get into this like I was supposed to. Maybe it’s the general lack of flexibility in the songs themselves, maybe it’s the rather lackluster performance, maybe it’s Demonaz’s non-sequitorical rasping/singing/grumbling vocal approach, or maybe all three. Either way, “March of the Norse” is a rather under-whelming affair that flitted from start to finish with only so few double takes on my part. Thankfully, though, its minor drudgeries aren’t really on par with the anger-inducing bullshit “brilliance” of anything King ov Hell’s had his bitterly untalented hands in, and actually comes off as harmless at worst, despite an equally triplet-born compositional feel (I swear, outside of the acoustic intro and interlude, EVERY SINGLE SONG has the SAME 6/8 galloping picking arrangement!). To put it succinctly, this could have been something much more than it is, but the end result is an album that I don’t really see myself pining for in the future. However, I guess I can give Demonaz the benefit of the doubt considering how long it’s been since he’d sat down and composed music (maybe it hasn’t been that long and I’d just overlooked it?), as there are also moments in songs like “All Blackened Sky”, “A Son of the Sword” and “Where Gods Once Rode” that have the capacity to be damned cool and fancy, but are nonetheless bogged down by the less-than-energetic atmosphere the album presents.
At the end of the day, “March of the Norse” is what it is, and I can’t say I really felt compelled to enjoy it. I could probably give it an A for effort, but even then, I might be stretching it. I’m not saying Demonaz shouldn’t continue to explore more musical solo ventures, but some serious work needs to be done to ensure a great album. Recommended only for those who have Abbath’s corpse paint style tattooed on their face.
The Doom Occulta brotherhood of one Demonaz and Abbath have come back to life in recent times, bringing us a long-awaited Immortal return and the quite fucking marvellous I album "Between Two Worlds", but now it's time for the side-project of chief lyricist and erstwhile Immortal band manager Demonaz to step back into the musical limelight with his debut solo offering. 'Solo' offering it is not, to be exact, as the crunch and powerfully produced guitars/bass come courtesy of Ice Dale (Enslaved) and drumming from Armaggeda (ex-Immortal) but with lyrics tied to mountains, legends and battles "March of the Norse" very much has a Demonaz feel to it's largely upbeat and classic metal feel.
In what will be of no little surprise to anyone who knows the history of Immortal (and to a lesser extent, I), the epically charged, medium-paced riffing at the heart of "All Shall Fall" and "Between Two Worlds" is central to this album's Bathory tinged core. Opening introduction "Northern Hymn" has all the pomp of an "Odin's Ride Over Nordland", while not only do songs like "A Son of the Sword" and "Where Gods Once Rode" rally along at such a beat it is impossible not to nod to your head, they possess chorus vocal lines dutifully set up for live show singsongs should Demonaz ever take this show on the road. The clean 'woahahs' and acoustic passages, which were just one small element of the other-worldly greatness of Viking-era Bathory, are found aplenty throughout ("Ode to Battle" being especially charged in it's one minute); not necessarily the most imaginative of soundscape building methods but for something as reverential as the album feels on the whole its works wonders.
Through the songs on offer here, including two short instrumental pieces, the consistency of all is pleasingly high, at least when one considers how Demonaz has played it relatively safe in the songwriting department by not attempting to write anything for which the Immortal & I hordes will already be acquainted. One area they will not be however is Demonaz' croaky yet decipherable vocals what with him having always remained in Abbath's shadow. Average they are at best as an accompaniment to Ice Dale's excellent performance but we can let the man off for this misdemeanour - he's never claimed himself to be a real vocalist – as his enthusiasm more than carries the job thrugh.
"March of the Norse" ultimately lacks much of the songwriting variation and daring to view beyond an icy Bathory landscape for inspiration (not that there's anything wrong with that…) that in my opinion makes I's sole effort to date one of the best metal releases in years, yet for a epically sound and enjoyable blackened metal album this hits all the right spots. Now, I wonder if Demonaz and I could ever tie down a tour together?
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net
If Demonaz Doom Occulta's first solo effort sounds like some pseudo sequel to I's 2006 debut Between Two Worlds, that's because it is aesthetically quite similar. Bridging the epic Viking black tradition of latter day Immortal and the traditional, hard hitting heavy metal of 80s enthusiasts like Manowar, Heavy Load, Brocas Helm and Manilla Road, he's crafted yet another successful experience of elegant, powerful fare with the rare ability to soothe one's heart while crushing his spirit across the winter wastes. If you enjoyed Between Two Worlds, or Immortal's latest albums All Shall Fall and Sons of Northern Darkness, then you'll be quite comfy with such accessible hooks and strong, simple songwriting.
Now, Demonaz himself did not perform on Between Two Worlds, but he did write the lyrics, and his partners here, guitarist Ice Dale and drummer Armagedda were both culled from that other project's lineup. A natural fit, as the extended Immortal family seems to have a long legacy of lasting friendships that seems so rare in the seething hate-scape of the black metal scene, and it continues to work well through the March of the Norse. Climactic elevations of melodic power and weighted rhythms dominate cuts like the pumping title track and the soaring "Where Gods Once Rode", with all the blunt folk mysticism of Bathory's post-Hammerheart continuum (thrash misfires aside). Demonaz himself has a slightly grimier form of address than Abbath uses in I or Immortal, but its nonetheless emotionally enduring and effective.
There's really not a bad song in this bunch, but my preference lies towards the dramatic "Over the Mountains" with the solemn guitar hooks in the verses, and the instrumental bonus track "Dying Sun" which flows like runoff from a Summer heated glacier; melancholic blues rock well suited to any sorrow choked circumstance. If it's glory you seek, though, you'll be hard pressed to take "Legends of Fire and Ice", "All Blackened Sky", or those mentioned in the second 'graph for granted. The riffs are rarely subtle or intricate, but the splice of open, ringing chords and strings casts the same icy glamour as Between Two Worlds or All Shall Fall, so even when the most predictable pattern is being practiced, it still seems to function within the trio's capable handiwork.
I felt that the material was more immediately accessible than I, which took me some time to develop a fondness towards, and ultimately not quite that strong, but I can't think of any reason a fan of that would avoid March of the Norse. The lyrical themes might seem as if they've run their course by now (Demonaz has been scribing Immortal lyrics for well over a decade), but driven by such wanderlust as the atmosphere of this album provides, there is a timeless appeal unlikely to interfere with the audience's appreciation. The production is superb, the songs have a lot of replay value. Inspiring. Driving. Viking as fuck. Memorable, gleaming metal set against a night black background. Fit for every soul that has ever stared across a snowy expanse, tracing the sun's course upon the frost, and wondered.