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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