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A lot of comebacks have failed. If I may take a sideways glance at thrash metal, I almost get sick when thinking of albums like "Mind over Splatter" (Zoetrope), "Third World Genocide" (Nuclear Assault) or "The Club" (Assassin). Therefore, I was not able to suppress my scepticism when I heard that Immortal intend to return. But my pessimistic tendency was totally unfounded. "All Shall Fall" turned out to be another masterpiece of Norwegian black metal and it is still one of my favorite albums of this style.
Immortal have once again caught the true spirit of the black genre and I guess it is a matter of course that I am speaking of the second wave of black metal. As might be expected, their approach still has nothing in common with the crude eruptions of early Venom or the nihilistic energy of Hellhammer. The three-piece celebrates its own form of black metal. Its supporting pillars are grimness, vehemence and coldness. I guess that real connoisseurs whisper the word "frostbitten" reverently in order to describe this musical blizzard. I do not dare to protest.
Immortal have a lot of names. They are the "Masters of Nebulah Frost" and belong to the "True Kings of Norway". And of course they are responsible for the winter road clearance in Blashyrkh. Yet first and foremost, the band should be well known for its amazing talent to create anthems that unite catchiness with malignancy and fierceness. Furthermore, I would like to praise their loyalty to the genre. The formation avoids progressive song structures as well as orchestral stagings. Immortal´s recipe is simple. They just do what they do best. With reference to "All Shall Fall", this way of proceeding results in a handful of new classics.
The album is bursting with energy and dynamism. The windswept melodies lead the listener one more time to the well known kingdoms of darkness, desperation and war. Already the opening title track opens wide the gates to Blashyrkh where the weather-beaten ruins dilapidate under a grey and cloudy sky. But Immortal do not forget to add a certain degree of Northern grandeur. The moderate yet brilliant "Mount North" puts the focus on this feature. Contrariwise, "Hordes of War" shows the bitter face of destruction. The sound of galloping horses and clanging weapons strengthens the archaic appearance of this speedy track. Between these poles lie songs like the uncanny "The Rise of Darkness" that convince as well. Irrespective of a brief speed eruption, it is dominated by a mid-tempo rhythm that gives room for the guitar to generate an aura of uncertainty. Do not overlook this jewel. Based on the dense and repellent production, these songs reveal their full potential while leaving the listener no possibility to escape.
There is no doubt that "All Shall Fall" enriches the complete works of the band, although two songs are slightly weaker. "Nordens on Fire" is jammed between two highlights and the last track is a typical closer. Both tunes are solid without making my blood boil. Nevertheless, I do not want to miss them. The same goes for the charismatic nagging of Abbath, his ferocious guitar performance and the varied drumming of Horgh. Perhaps this was only a snapshot, but Immortal appear on this album as a well-oiled engine. Zoetrope and all the other guys should have asked the Norwegians how to manage a comeback, before they released their crappy stuff.
There's nothing wrong with change. If anything, I'd be less enthusiastic about a band that had stuck to the same sound for decades. A style that suits someone in their teens and twenties shouldn't suit someone as well when they're half a lifetime removed from those early days. It's not accurate to call All Shall Fall a black metal record, at least not in the way Immortal used to be in them good ol' days. An ever-greater focus on sculpting riffs over conjuring atmosphere would certainly have been a better fit for Abbath's side project I. Immortal's shift towards a more rock-oriented sound here was probably the final death knell for the Norwegian Second Wave. Immortal had long since lost their claws by the time it came to recording All Shall Fall, but you know what? The band's knack for riffs and songwriting stuck throughout their maturation. They managed to make an otherwise discouraging transformation into a new opportunity to write memorable music. All Shall Fall is far from their best, but Second Wave bands have called it quits on far worse terms than this.
I'd actually have been more suspicious if Immortal had stuck to the same sound with All Shall Fall. There was a seven year break between this and their last album, and even Sons of Northern Darkness demonstrated Immortal's veer toward cleaner depths. Abbath's Norwegian supergroup I was further proof; their debut Between Two Worlds sounded like heavy metal thunder had descended upon the frostbitten kingdom. I'm usually quick to snooze at bands who streamline their sound in some way, and in the case of Immortal, the new direction capitalized on their solid riffs, doing away with other traits in the process. All Shall Fall sounds closer to hard rock (albeit with croak-vokills!) than the stuff they were doing in their heyday. With a little time, I've realized I'm okay with that. Compared to the multi-faceted, arboreal Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism, I remember Pure Holocaust felt streamlined in comparison, and it was almost entirely for the better; these guys weren't trying to simplify their formula for any reason other than to capitalize on their best strengths. That was true for Pure Holocaust, and I think it applies to some lesser extent to what they did on this one.
It doesn't seem like a single conversation about late-era Immortal can go without some lurid reference to the 'almighty riff', and in this case I think it's for good reason. Even if some of the songs here fail to impress me as a whole, I'm pretty sure the band injected at least a couple of great guitar riffs into every track. Whether it's Demonaz or Abbath playing, Immortal have always boasted some of the best guitarwork in tradi-black metal. Where Demonaz focused on incredibly fast and aggressive onslaughts, Abbath is a much more traditional riffmaker at heart, but I don't think that's altogether a bad thing. You won't get much frostbitten atmosphere from All Shall Fall, but there are plenty of riffs here to get your toes tappin' and your head bangin', if that's your thing. If I had to choose, I'd say "The Rise of Darkness" offers the best riffs, and "Unearthly Kingdom" is the best track altogether, but the album is fairly consistent and homogeneous, so dwelling on highlights might be misleading.
In terms of production, the album sounds exactly the sort that Nuclear Blast would spend so much money marketing for; its incredibly crisp, immaculately mixed, and professional. No doubt this fact should curdle the noses of the Second Wave purists, but some of Immortal's weakest productions (Battles in the North and Blizzard Beasts) had a dismal time trying to evoke atmosphere even in lo-fi. It's still sort of hard to think of All Shall Fall as a legitimate Immortal record, but for the experience of actually listening to it, it's perfectly enjoyable. I can't see it being preserved by the Library of Congress for its artistic significance, but if the somewhat declawed, shiny production gets some people into their older stuff (and real black metal in general), I'd say All Shall Fall was a fairly good move. Think of the few Second Wavers that are still clinging to their old sounds; most sound like faint shells trying desperately to relive their pasts, like an aging supermodel injected with so much Botox that she counts a greater part mineral over animal. Immortal embraced their maturity and the professional bells and whistles that come with it, and it resulted in a fun, riff-fuelled album. Nothing wrong with that at all, though I'll probably be reaching for my copy of Pure Holocaust long before returning to this one again.
How do you come back after 7 years since one of your most critically successful albums? Apparently, by just being yourself. That is, if “yourself” is a corpse-painted, thrash riffing, black metal giant.
Immortal have returned, and to a world where black-metal is known to the world as symphonic, theatrical, and largely image-based. Given the demand for this new sound, Immortal could have easily phoned in a few riffs, hired some string-players, and called it a day while rolling in piles of cash. Instead, Abbath and the crew stuck to what they do best: shredding the competition and not giving a fuck.
All Shall Fail is the culmination of everything that is Immortal. The term “all-mighty riff” has become the foundation of pretty much anything you read about this band. While these are a bit more subdued this time around, they stick with you. Foregoing some of the melodeath influences of the previous album, the guitar work is no less admirable. The same Bergen winter cold permeates through every icy chord. Bring a sweater.
Abbath is as croakingly dark as ever. His voice comes through clear and crisp, yet maintains the qualities that separate old-school black metal from the contemporaries. No matter how kvlt you may be, I challenge you to look past the more polished production of this album and see how little this group has been willing to compromise over its 20+ year existence. And even though the sound is much cleaner with each release, it hasn’t lost the same edge and tone of Pure Holocaust.
This is probably the closest you can get to reliving the glory days of the second-wave. I enjoy a lot of the innovations and new styles coming out, but there is something to be said about pure, uncompromising guitar brutality. The music video for the title track perfectly sums up the sound for me: a couple of grim-looking dudes in black leather thrashing on a snowy mountain. I half -expected to see Skwisgaar show up.
I won’t lie, this wasn’t a bad comeback for Immortal. I think some people are shitting on this album a little too much to the point where it’s unnecessary. I won’t say it’s great, or that it’s the best that Immortal could have done, but it’s not terrible.
I know it could have been better though because I hear their passion and inspiration on select songs, those being “All Shall Fall,” “The Rise of Darkness,” and “Norden on Fire.” The rest of the album consists of a half-decent rendition of the trademark Immortal sound we’ve become familiar with since 1999’s “At The Heart of Winter.” It’s very well produced, well mixed black metal that substitutes the generic harsh atmosphere with a much more full sound that replaces most of the piercing single-string tremolo riffs with fast strumming of full chords utilizing as many strings as possible to create a very warm and heavy sound (especially for black metal. I should say right now that “All Shall Fall” is quite a heavy album). Accompanying this is Horgh’s drumming, which - although he seems to be quite revered when it comes to black metal drumming - doesn’t excite me too much, with the reason being that he simply does just enough to do his part for the band. There are a few moments found throughout this album where he does something a little unorthodox (an off-beat snare hit, a more creative fill, etc.) that brings more excitement to the music, but all in all he tends to just do enough to perform his duty without really setting himself apart from other drummers in the extreme metal community. To go along with this, we have the bass simply following the guitars and “playing it safe,” instead of trying to expand on their sound, as well as Abbath’s trademark roar/croak/burp/demonic talk which he uses to the best of his ability when singing about winter, demons, winter demons, grimness and “blashyrkh” (does anyone really know what that is?). Abbath’s vocals do sound quite good on “All Shall Fall,” and to me this is a relief because he tended to get on my nerves a little bit on past works. He’s starting to sound less like a evil frog and more like a demon. He is regaining the harshness that he once had on earlier albums like 1995’s “Battles in the North” and I think as this develops it will help make Immortal sound more ferocious without them changing their sound altogether.
Besides, it’s not like their sound isn’t working for them. One of the great things about this band is that their style is unquestionable - you know you’re listening to Immortal before the vocals even think about kicking in. The main problem with this album though is that while some songs stand out, others simply float on by without leaving anything behind for the listener to reflect on. Because of this, at times it seems like they’re just going through the motions, with the result being a huge blend factor that plagues the whole album. “Hordes of War,” “Arctic Swarm” and “Mount North” in my opinion are almost completely forgettable. All of the pieces of the puzzle are there, but they lack the creativity and inspiration that made “At the Heart of Winter” so memorable. The riffs are recycled, the lyrical themes are forced and the drumming is just… there. “Unearthly Kingdom” is a little better but when the song starts you can tell immediately that it is supposed to be one of those ending songs that’s a little longer and is supposed to give a sort of “epic” vibe (it even has a “dun, da-da-dun, da-da-dun, da-da-dun” rhythm). It is indeed one of the better songs from the album but can be slightly exhausting to listen to because they don’t fully achieve the goal they had in mind for that song - it simply falls short of your expectations.
I’m not going to use that song as an example to speak for the whole album though. Like I mentioned earlier, some of the songs on this album are quite great. “All Shall Fall” is in my opinion one of the most perfect examples of the Immortal formula working at it’s best. All of the ideas clicked for them, and the result is a heavy, aggressive and (most of all) catchy song that sticks in your head immediately after the first listen (no wonder they made a video for it). “The Rise of Darkness” features some classic Immortal riffing that utlizes layered guitar work and picked arpeggios (not the sweep-picking kind) as well as Horgh’s most creative drumming on the album. This combines with sudden changes of pace to create a slightly more progressive version of the Immortal sound. “Norden on Fire” is a triumphant sounding piece with a ripping guitar solo and a marching rhythm that hooks you in immediately from it’s acoustic intro.
With these 3 songs in mind, I think I know what was the killing factor for the album: they rushed the song writing process, a problem I feel has killed many great bands. They broke up in 2003, a year after “Sons of Northern Darkness” was released, and remained disbanded for approximately 3 years before getting back together again in 2006. I doubt any of the members were writing this album for that whole duration, and wouldn’t be surprised if the song writing process for “All Shall Fall” began in late 2006 or early 2007. This would leave approximately 2 years (give or take) to write 7 songs, and then a few extra months to record, mix, master and promote the album before the release date. To me, 2 years does not sound like a lot of time to write a quality album of 7 different songs, and because of that it doesn’t surprise me that there are songs on this album that stand out and shine and some songs that go in one ear and out the other. The three songs I mentioned that were great give me hope that Immortal can still write a killer album. They just need to sit on their ideas for a bit, let them grow and take their time. From what I’ve noticed over the years listening to metal, time can be a songwriter’s best friend - it sure as hell helps Cult of Luna, Gorguts, Neurosis and Agalloch. Maybe it can help Immortal too.
“All Shall Fall” was released in 2009. It is 2013 now, and I haven’t heard any news about a new Immortal album yet. I hope that’s a good thing, because if they wait it out a little I feel they can probably put out something very enjoyable.
My final rating of “All Shall Fall” is 75/100.
Don’t be afraid to take your time, guys.
Immortal stands out from most other black metal bands because they chose their own path. Instead of adopting the anti-Christian, church burning, satanic lyrics they created their own dark world. The mythical world of Blashyrkh. An icy cold and blackened reality full of demons and warfare. Steering away from politics and religion has proven to be a brilliant move. Immortal's music is just as "evil" and heavy as any black metal band but without the baggage. An undeniable Quorthon (of Bathory) influence is there in the vocals, as is a somewhat silly facepaint, leather and spike look reminiscent of non-metal band KISS, but musically they borrowed from Mayhem and perhaps Darkthrone (who preceded Immortal by only one LP). Wearing their influences on their sleeve they carved out their own sound.
That "Immortal style" morphed over time. Incidentally, they are one of very few black metal bands that has wide appeal. This has resulted in some believing Immortal became too commercial because they incorporate actual melody in their songs and add a healthy dose of thrash riffs to their blizzard sound. They have evolved from the breakneck speed of their earliest albums into a whole new era of epicness. What's amazing is that they do this without symphonic elements like Dimmu Borgir (the best selling black metal band so far).
"All Shall Fall" may be the best sounding black metal album ever. It's a wall of guitars, croaking vocals and manic drums recorded perfectly. I mean this thing is just a feast for the ears. Because of the sonic brilliance you can feel the full power of this epic music rattle your bones. It's commercial only in the sense that it was produced marvelously and they've chosen to take serious the notion of songs rather than rambling bursts. This is 'blackened thrash' if I had to label it. It's not 'black & roll' like singer/guitarist Abbath's side product named I. That band's debut LP was pretty much what Motorhead would sound like doing black metal. This is still very much a black metal album with certain elements retained. The vocals are about as deep in the mix as your beloved Emperor but never drowned out. The bass is barely audible. No, every instrument is welded together and solid as frozen steel. Speaking of Abbath he took over the guitarwork around the time of the band's lauded "At The Heart Of Winter" album, which heralded a a stylistic change for the band. Original guitarist (and still current lyricist/co-songwriter) Demonaz was sidelined with tendonitis. Demonaz was known for his manic, frantic shredding whereas Abbath prefers more midtempo riffing. Like any band that departs from a style that made them legendary many longtime fans pine for the Immortal of "Pure Holocaust" but, again, the genre has evolved.
"All Shall Fall" is best listened to from beginning to end. There's no linear storyline just tales of icy warfare between demon hordes in Blashyrkh but from the first guitar riff it's consistency is undeniable. There are melodic moments like the refrain in "Mount North" and the bridge in the title track ("allllllllll shall faaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllll") but mostly this music just hypnotizes you with midtempo tidal waves of cold guitarwork.
This was the first black metal album I purchased and it's still my favorite. Black metal has evolved. Take it or leave it.
Still grim, depressing, low end darkness due to the mastermind Peter Tagtgren in the production/mixing department, a release that reflects more of Immortal's "At The Heart of Winter". The blackness of the despondent riffs/leads, featuring a mixture of bar chords and tremolo picking, Immortal selects some really melancholic axe frenzies. Some songs are a tad upbeat, not by much though. A few tracks are fast, but all in all, damp and an echo carrying with them graven mist sultry black metal. A good selection of melodies though to reflect Immortal of the old style of writing.
Again, about the 40+ minutes of music, Abbath's riff writing features great style of wintry and solemn spell of musicianship. The vocals fit the music totally. The odd voice of Abbath has not changed one bit from previous recordings. His voice is vintage, which puts an overtone of overture in that department. Everything is all him, no backup by any other of the members. I'd conclude that overall, Immortal as a whole, constructs songs with music that can dampen ones mood because as I mentioned, the songs are so depressing. Perfect selection as usual with the lyrics done entirely by Demonaz.
Appolyon's bass is somewhat audible and well fine tuned in the recording. It sounds like Abbath sticks with standard tuning, which is speculation that is. His solos are better here than in the past, but some may argue with this conclusion. I thought that that they sat well with the music. The chorus selections are so memorable, especially on "Mount North". I think it contains one of the most notable one within the entire recording of the album. Abbath also selects not only distortion tone in his guitar, but also clean melodies as well. They set the stage for the heavier and thicker distortion type riffing.
I would have to say that in my estimation, "All Shall Fall" is definitely a better release than "Sons of the Northern Darkness". I conclude this because I think that the quality of the riffs, the atmosphere, the vocals, production sound, fits a darker Immortal. I also think that everything on this recording blows it away. I'm talking about the depressing nature of the songs, the riffing, the quality and selection of music to go with the vocals really ousts it's predecessor. A lot of variety, plus Horgh does a lot of good behind the set. His conglomeration of drumming sure as hell goes hand in hand with the music perfectly.
A lot of the tracks feature fade outs into hellish dominions. Into the gargoyles of doom that is, such hellish burning this one goes into the deepest pits of despair, and other worldly domains. The music struct me the most, that was the highlight. The aura of these songs are so chilling that one could never get turned off by the release unless your mood doesn't crave the blackest of deep intertwining black metal. Sheer genius by the band as a whole, well worth the wait. I'm hoping that the band does produce another follow-up. If you deeply respect black metal and all of it's intensity featuring the darkest minutes you've heard, "All Shall Fall" is one never to keep out of your metal selection!
The most recent album in Immortal's vast catalogue of albums is one that is often debated among fans of the bands. A near direct clone of predecessor Sons Of Northern Darkness, this album is a blackened thrash album containing some lightning fast blast beats and thrashing riffs that are, for the most part, a slight regression from that album. However, this album is easily the catchiest the band has ever put out, boasting moment after moment that leap out at the listener and some incredibly melodic cleaner sections such as the one found just three minutes into the title track that opens up the album, and all of this is smoothed out by one of the crispest black metal production jobs ever done. There really is a lot to talk about with this album but it is at heart an Immortal album in the purest sense, boasting a much more accessible sound than many of the more well known bands of the black metal scene with riffs that are equal parts catchy, brutal and technical and the usual lyrical themes about the winter and the ice.
The stellar opening track All Shall Fall shows just how talented Immortal clearly are, with a very progressive song structure, boasting crushing mid-paced riffs and flurries of insanely fast tremolo picking, before finding the most beautiful interlude in almost all of the black metal genre. By this point, the listener should be wondering how they got from A to B, with riff changes galore whilst still maintaining a blitzkrieg blast beat filled drum performance from Horgh. This is a ridiculously tight performance from the band including a stellar solo, with Abbath's usual furious screeches completing the deal. The obvious improvement is found straight away in the production, which ditches the cliched lo-fi sound of most black metal bands, and is instead very well produced, with each instrument being more than audible, without mashing together to make a wall of sound. In the case of this album which is more focused on actual song writing skills than playing as fast as humanely possible the production works very well with it and makes it all the more listenable, and is one reason to take this over their other albums.
The comparisons can clearly be made to Sons Of Northern Darkness and this album frequently has criticisms leveled at it for not having evolved at all despite the fact the band had seven years between their previous album and this one with which to hone their song craft even further. However this is certainly not entirely true, despite the actual sound being relatively similar to the album that came before. On here, the atmosphere is a lot more present, created mainly through the ingeniously placed clean sections that build a feel of mourning and loss before the brutality kicks back in again. The thrash elements that the band had been experimenting with for years prior to the release of this album were once again prominent, but they are used very differently to Sons Of Northern Darkness, which was primarily a lightning fast ear assault, whereas All Shall Fall has far more slower and more restrained sections. The Rise Of Darkness kicks off as being the thrashiest sounding song the band has ever put out, sounding similar to something Slayer or Dark Angel would have put out but with a more extreme sounding vocalist, and it works to much surprise. This is one of the best songs off of the album, giving the album a much more diverse feel than any Immortal album to date, and highlights the change between Sons Of Northern Darkness and All Shall Fall. The technical riff work found towards the end of this song is some of the best on the album, and Abbath sounds completely demonic whilst Horgh takes time to lay down some more varied beats than what would usually be found on an Immortal album, jumping between a slower beat for the first half of the song and a more traditional black metal blast beat towards the end of it, showing a real level of musical talent.
The lyrics and vocal work that delivers them is worth noting on this album, being one of the real reasons behind its success. Listening to the music, ones jaw might drop at the atmospheric sound that feels completely apocalyptic and lonely, as though the band were alone in the middle of their own personal Hell without a friend to help them, and this is where the lyrical concepts come in. For those unfamiliar with Immortal, they created many years ago a fictional kingdom created from their own isolated feelings living in Bergen in Norway. They entitled this kingdom Blashyrkh, and over the course of the albums following its invention, they added to the mythology surrounding it, drawing up a vivid image of a Hellish ice kingdom based on where they lived in Norway itself, with the winter and heavy fog and trees capped with ice, adding to the mixture demons that represented their own fears. The kingdom is home to numerous battles with these demons, that the band chronicle through their songs, and this album is no different, with much of All Shall Fall residing within Blashyrkh, describing once more the demonic surroundings the band find themselves in. These lyrics of desolate lands ruined by ancient demonic warfare provides for the perfect subject of the songs themselves, already made so atmospheric. However, combine this with the nasally tones of Abbath, who consistently sounds as though he has a severe cold and one has the most chilling, frighteningly constructed atmosphere to grace the music industry in a long time. This is the real triumph for All Shall Fall, where it fires on all cylinders and delivers the most jaw dropping experience one will find. The technical instrumental work matters not when one has beautiful melodic sections followed by utter brutality such as what is found on Norden on Fire, a song that conveys such a feeling of desperation through its riff work and overall melody that it is something to marvel at.
This is Immortal's finest work by a long way, for the simple reason that it takes the flaws of the previous album and manages to correct them whilst still enhancing their sound to an insane degree. Whereas the closer to Sons of Northern Darkness felt unnecessarily long, every song on All Shall Fall no matter what their length feels fully formed and perfectly written, each one giving the same beautiful brutality the band has been making for years now. If Immortal were to quit now, then they would have left us with their masterpiece. However, with another album confirmed to be four songs into writing, All Shall Fall is not the last one will hear from the Norwegian black metallers, and one can only wonder at what direction the band will go in next.
I just recently discovered Immortal with this record and I really like what I hear here. If you are a black metal elitist or you are a fan of their previous releases, I can understand that you may not like “All Shall Fall”. Their style has evolved, and what we have here is a very well produced, modern black metal album. I heard someone saying that what they do here is more like what Amon Amarth do than proper black metal. I don’t disagree with that. If Amon Amarth were Norwegian blacksters they would probably have this kind of sound but...who cares? This album has the whole package: good production, cool song structures, catchy and interesting riffing, solos in almost every track, and it retains the grim, glacial atmosphere Immortal are famous for.
As I already said, Abbath’s guitar work is pretty good. At first the riffs may seem a bit repetitive, but after the first listen you realize that they are more complex than they appear. Abbath’s soloing is both technical and interesting and even catchy at times. Immortal always had solid acoustic parts and they are no different on this record.
The drums have always been a fundamental part of Immortal's discography, and they keep up with that in this album. Nothing is particularly mind blowing nor extremely fast as they were in “Battles in the North”, just to say, but during the chorus of “All Shall Fall”, it was one of the few times I thought, “Man, the drums are really killer here!”. It’s obvious that they put particular attention in recording and mixing the drums.
It’s hard to tell what the bass is doing since it is almost always mixed out, but that’s an issue very common in metal music.
Concerning the lyrics, there’s nothing really new; they’re always about Blashyrkh, Mighty Ravendark and that kind of stuff, but at least they don’t sing about Satan here and Satan there like most of the other black metal bands do.
One final word about the video of “All Shall Fall”: it is pretty outstanding (Abbath’s moves can be a bit funny at times, but that’s ok since they are a kind of “trademark” of his), especially if compared to the previous ones by Immortal that in the past gifted us with some of the most ridiculous videos of all time (if you want to have a laugh, check “Call Of The Wintermoon” or “Blashyrkh, Mighty Ravendark”. Admit it, they are terrible!).
In conclusion, I personally like this style of “catchy” (non-symphonic) black metal, and I hope Immortal will retain this style in the future, so if you want to try out a “modern” style of black metal, give “All Shall Fall” a spin. If you only like raw “true” Norwegian black metal, you’ll probably want to avoid this record instead.
Highlights: All Shall Fall, Unearthly Kingdom, Norden On Fire.
The disintegration of the once-and-future kings of Norwegian black metal struck a wild blow within both its scene and the metal spectrum the world over. A damn shame in and of itself, Abbath and company left Blashyrk on such a monstrous high note that made their departure hurt that much more. I was interesting, for what it was, but for most it all came down to the rebirth of the coldest band on the planet. So, as time passed, and it came to be, the listening public waited patiently for the next album of unforgettable blackness to cascade from the fjords.
Well...it almost happened...
"All Shall Fall", while a very competant excursion of modern black metal, doesn't quite eclipse the previous years' wunderkinds in terms of atmosphere and brutality. If nothing else, this album is more of a showcase of a band who still knows how to get it done, but has more than its fair share of rust to shake off. Performance-wise the group still shows elements of the wild abandon of yesterdecade, where blinding, black-as-pitch guitar riffs, machine-gun-esque blasting drumwork and Abbath's acidic croaks combine into a spiky gauntlet fist to the face, but with a lack of the damnation-inducing energy that was pure holocaust to unsuspecting listeners. The cleaner production is able to expose much of the melodic thrash tendancies that has become the Immortal way of business since "Damned in Black", where Horge's reverb-drenched skin-bashing annihilate Apollyon's mildly-undermixed bass lines and some of the more harmonic, damn-near upbeat guitar tandems Mr. Doom Occulta has concocted, all mixed into a tasty cocktail of metaldom that tries so damned hard. The band shows off some of their hardened chops to full fruition with the likes of "Hordes to War" and "Norden on Fire", tempered a bit unevenly by the weaker, more watered-down attempts of "All Shall Fall" and "Unearthly Kingdom" (despite a wickedly awesome old-timey horror film intro)...but for all the missing pomp and circumstance and lack of song-by-song ideas, this is still complete and utter proof that the Immortal of old is still there, if not squelched pretty far down and unexercized after years of inactivity.
So in the end "All Shall Fall" doesn't show the band at their best. Still, for what it's worth, this whets the appetite as best it can, if only to brace the listener of what could come to pass should Immortal continue their trek back to the realm of the winterdemons.
Now, I could easily make the "How'd the Immortal logo get on the next I album" jokes here, but honestly I can't find anything funny about how one of the titans of black metal decided to take a shit on their own legacy with the most pathetic, inconsequential, useless album they've ever released. I can't say I was exactly hyped when I heard Immortal was getting back together- 'Sons of Northern Darkness' was a lot of fun for what it was, but continuing down that path would lead to bad things. 'Between Two Worlds' was that bad thing. So what happens when Immortal completely gives up and just releases another I album under the Immortal name? Complete and utter disaster, for one, but oddly enough a disaster that's somehow tricked most of the metal scene into believing the hype. Frankly I can't understand how, but I can't with most of the things the metal scene likes anyway.
First things first: this isn't black metal. No, this isn't particularly material to whether the album is good or not, but I feel it needs to be clarified. This might have some (not even a lot) of the established tropes of black metal: raspy vocals, (very occasional) tremolo riffs, (very occasional) blast beats, but in actuality this is much closer to Amon Amarth than black metal, who in and of themselves are much closer to rock music than extreme metal in the first place. So, in short, what 'All Shall Fall' really is at the basest level is a rock album. Again- not necessarily indicative of whether it's good or not. The problem is when Immortal try to make 'Sons of Northern Darkness'-style metal out of rock music- it just doesn't work. The resulting album is completely vapid, tedious, and turgid beyond all fucking belief, and sitting through a single play of it feels like an eternity.
A lot of people describe newer Immortal and this album in particular as Bathory-worship, but this is kind of bullshit just because Bathory was never this boring and cliche-ridden. 'All Shall Fall' is basically composed of nothing but the slowest, cheesiest moments off of 'Sons of Northern Darkness', sans the very strong riffcraft and consistent pace. Remember those combinations of '70s heavy metal crunch chords and pseudo-black arpeggios that dotted the slower tracks of 'Sons of Northern Darkness'? 'All Shall Fall' is basically an album composed of nothing but them, but where the slow, epic tracks of the previous album were tolerable because they had variety, 'All Shall Fall' is an album which has no problem stretching out three or four simple riffs for six or more minutes per track. The effect is excruciating and mind-numbing; the first time I heard the opening cut, I literally could not believe how little was going on. Moreover, most of the tracks sound almost identical, because Immortal these days operates at one tempo, with one rhythm, and one melodic idea most of the time. There's absolutely no personality to any of these songs because they're just rock songs in black metal drag, all obeying the same basic rules and not evidencing any sort of creativity at all.
Oh, but let's not forget the occasional blast beats and 'extremity' Immortal will sometimes inject in case you forgot who you were listening to on your way to vomit! Yeah, they're sprinkled around very sparingly, as though they have some sort of saffron-like price to them where the lurching, snore-inducing rock passages are free. Unsurprisingly, when surrounded by boring, slow to midpaced passages, these moments are robbed of all their intensity. No longer does it sound like there's any actual ENERGY behind the blasting- it all sounds lazy, especially because Abbath doesn't even bother to write real tremolo riffs anymore. None of the tremolo riffs, which I guess are as black metal as this album gets, actually SOUND like tremolo riffs: they sound like rock melodies turned into tremolo riffs. Even the fastest parts of this music have no sense of speed behind them because the song structures on this album have no dynamics- there's no importance given to the fast parts, so they come off as just as boring and uninspired as the rest of it.
There's about a hundred other things wrong with this album- Abbath's laughably weak vocal performance, the bad drum production, the sheer, torturous length of the songs- but I feel vaguely depressed writing about this album as much as I have already. I suppose this is all right, as usual, if you have no standards and are okay with listening to bad rock music dressed up in black metal drag, but to suggest, even if this appeals to you, that this is anything less than artistically bankrupt is as close to objectively incorrect as I could imagine in the field of music criticism. There is NOTHING here: no new ideas, no passion, no creativity, and no real metal spirit. Immortal's become a hollow shell of the band they used to be and the metal scene is bankrolling it out of feeble nostalgia. It's times like these I feel like I should just listen to indie rock and be done with it.
For me, the disappointment of 2002 was when it turned out that the Immortal concert in Hungary had been cancelled. I was young so I didn't have the opportunity to see them elsewhere, and as a fan, it was a shock to me. And what's worse, later they decided to split-up. Although, Abbath established his new band 'I' which I also like, but that's not the same. For years, I was hoping a reunion and I'm quite sure that I wasn't the only one. And 2 years ago, our prayers had been heard, the band started to work again, they reunited and played on 10 events in the same year. After that they started to write a new strong album to tell the world that Immortal hasn't died, they live and they are as heavy as in the old times. But did they succeed with 'All Shall Fall'? More or less.
If you are familiar with their work, you don't have to listen to the record to notice a huge change. Yes, it's the cover, we can find some really nice artwork here, no trve poses and grim members were featured now which could be a progression. It was also a good sign for what would I hear because they have released only one full-length without featuring the members on its cover, and that was 'At The Heart Of Winter', my all-time favorite black metal album. Beside the cover, the digipak's packaging is also great, but the original CD format also has a fine lookout. The second change is in the music. You can find less fast songs on the CD and only a few seconds of blast beats, which of course, isn't a problem, I just expected more songs written in the old style. Because of the mid-tempo songs and the style of the guitar riffs this record often reminds me to 'I', there are some tracks which could have been easily featured on 'Between Two Worlds'. And there are some elements taken from that project, for instance, when Abbath shouts “All Shall Fall” with the same technique he used in 'I'. Of course, the atmosphere of 'All Shall Fall' is more heavy but not as heavy as any other Immortal album.
So this album is kinda between the old Immortal and 'I,' or if there's anyone who doesn't familiar with that project: it's a softened old Immortal music with some Bathory influences. And when they want to set a heavier or gloomier atmosphere, they follow the path they've already set with the second part of 'Sons Of Northern Dakness' album. So what we here then are epic, grim songs with clean/effected guitar parts but often with medium pace. And with many thrash elements! I know, their riffs were always influenced by thrash but give 'Hordes of War' a listen! It's pure German thrash! Not to mention the opening riff of 'The Rise of Darkness'. And that's all what I can mention as a notable change. The typical guitar riffs, the song structures, the soundscape, so all the trademarks haven't changed a bit in the last 7 years. This makes the album a bit predictable, but if there are bands who don't have to make something unexpected to create a damn good album, then Immortal is definitely one of them. Although, it's not appropriate to say that 'All Shall Fall' is not different from the other Immortal works, because it is. It's just that there are great and perfectly written songs, but nothing outstanding, simply very good. Maybe there is one mentionable song, “The Rise of Darkness”, which is a highlight with its thrash/hard rock feeling, but this direction belongs to I.
All in all, I admit that 'All Shall Fall' is far not their best work, they can do better. But it's definitely among the 3 albums made by Immortal with the best atmosphere, and maybe that's why I got addicted to this record instantly. As I mentioned above, the presence of their trademarks is strong, fortunately, 7 years wasn't enough for them to forget how to write songs. I know that many of the oldschool fans are making complaints about this album's pace, but who cares? Maybe they will be satisfied with the next full-lengths, but for me, it has been already settled that Immortal has been returned!
( Originally written for: http://kronosmortus.hu )
The return of the long hailed true kings of Norway, the masters of nebular frost, the purveyors of Blashrykh’s unholy propaganda, and whatever additional titles can be bestowed upon them, is indeed a welcome one. Along with their less prolific yet more controversial Finnish rivals Beherit and their vile brethren Gorgoroth, Immortal has brought a needed breath of frostbitten life into a year where black metal would otherwise be seen as archaic if it didn’t conform to the watered down rehashes of keyboard drenched Emperor worship put out by present day Dimmu Borgir. This isn’t your 12 year old nephew’s black metal by any stretch, though it is a bit removed from the rough edged, analog tributes to the spirit of early Bathory and Hellhammer that dominated the early 1990s.
Although there is definitely some validity to Abbath’s claim that this was meant to resemble “Blizzard Beasts”, “All Shall Fall” is mostly cut from the same vain as the 3 albums that followed said transitional effort. The overall presentation is very simple, drawing from familiar selection of Teutonic thrash and early death metal bands, and superimposed on a cold, yet smooth sound aesthetic. The result is a masterfully controlled fit of chaos, perfectly balancing a formula based approach to songwriting, consisting of a typical verse to chorus format with a few variations, and also showing a rather impressive display of technical mastery, particularly in the case of the drums and the guitars. Amateur bedroom black metal or over-simplified, punk influenced trite, this is not, but instead a fine representation of how great metal does not accept slouches in its ranks.
Right from the opening creak of Blashrykh’s gates, this band assaults the ears as if they’d never taken that 7 year hiatus that came after “Sons Of Northern Darkness”. The title song kicks things off with a typically wicked endeavor, spearheaded by a viciously precise blast beat and an oddly light, almost fluttering guitar riff. As the song unfolds, things develop into more of a fast paced thrashing stride, though the guitars maintain a nebulous presence, in spite of moving down to a more thudding groove. Abbath’s vocals are a bit more menacing and goblin-like that previous works, though still deeper and more intelligible than most of the 2nd wave vocalists, save Nocturno Culto. But more interesting still is the lead assault that pops in and out (this occurs in every single song on this album), reminding heavily of the wild yet strictly structured solos of the early 80s, ergo before Kerry King and Dave Mustaine really started pushing the envelope as thrash developed out of its NWOBHM influences in the mid to late 80s.
By no means is the opening song wanting in any way, but it isn’t until after its conclusion that things really get going. “The Rise Of Darkness” and “Hordes Of War” are quintessential representations of how blackened thrash can pulverize bones into dust when done right, the former having a catchy collection of galloping riffs and blurring melodic tremolo interchanges, while the latter cooks with the same chaotic intensity of Sodom’s “Persecution Mania”, yet has a melodic contour and cold atmosphere that reminds of this band’s brightest moments on “Sons Of Northern Darkness”. “Norden On Fire” tempers the frozen blast of Nordic storms with a calm, solemn and somewhat folksy clean guitar intro. When things kick into full out distortion mode, it still remains fairly reserved and sees Abbath morphing from a berserker shouting garbled war cries to an aged prophet speaking of coming events in a raspy tone.
The album essentially climaxes right at the onset of “Arctic Swarm”, which is the closest representation of the hyper-chaotic yet catchy brand of frosty death that was “Blizzard Beasts”. The riff presentation is a bit simpler, but this is the sort of Bathory meets Morbid Angel goodness that was “Nebular Raven Winters”, with a nasty vocal performance and a wild guitar solo that stings like an ice covered edged of a thousand frost wasps. Afterward, things start to teeter off a little as “Mount North” largely reemphasizes the formulaic yet pounding character of the title song, save with a somewhat larger atmosphere. When things conclude with “Unearthly Kingdom” the high speed chaos is scaled back almost completely and replaced with a reminiscent sense of fatalism, in stark contrast to the dual course epic monster that was “Mountains Of Might”, to which this would otherwise be comparable to.
The world tyranny of Blashrykh Ravendark, the grand monarch of the frozen mountains of the north, has been ushered once again, to 7 fine fanfares of icy brilliance. It’s not quite their best, nor does it quite supplant the colossal efforts put forth by Heaven And Hell and Gorgoroth this year, but it is a must have for any fan of metal, regardless of one’s preferred sub-genre. Whether this album was put out after 7 years of silence or 17 years, it’s an instant classic that demands an equivalent audience.
Immortal have returned with the vengeance of the cold north wind at their backs and the hatred of a psychotic berserker boiling in their veins. After all these years, the Norwegian black metal veterans still haven’t lost their spirit for music and instead have utilized their remaining fury to create “All Shall Fall”. This album is a masterpiece that not only displays Immortal’s musical prowess but also showcases how listenable the band’s brand of black metal is when produced well and while ensuring that many of the frigid and raw elements that made Immortal so unique and beloved in the early black metal community still have bearing on their music.
Falling in line with their tried and true approach, Immortal emphasizes slower guitar rhythms that crescendo with tremolo picking to bring a rapid reinvention of riffing technique and drum cycles that build and grow to a climax in blast beats. The band is always galloping toward a battle with their music which comes in a blast laden and tremolo picked explosion of black metal that focuses hard on guitar harmonies and give off the cold chill expected from black metal shredding. Throughout the title track, “Norden on Fire”, “Hordes to War”, and the epic closing track, “Unearthly Kingdom”, slower tempos bring more reserved guitar rhythms that play in harmony through each progression while the drum sound remains strong and desolately recorded with plenty of echo and atmosphere, but is aloof enough in the mix to keep a focus on the guitars. Still, the great upsurges of tremolo picking and blast beats in “The Rise of Darkness”, “Arctic Swarm”, and “Mount North” bring back the old sawing and shredding sound that Immortal perfected in “Pure Holocaust” and, with better production, still pull off as they did in 1993. Though the aggression from the drum kit is lacking in creativity and movement at times while just following the guitars in “Norden on Fire” or refusing to fill or roll in the appropriate places that open up in the title track, the blasts reserved until the most essential moments in each song bring Immortal back to its roots perfectly as the band sounds just as strong and intense as ever.
As the follow-up to the title track, “The Rise of Darkness” picks up momentum quickly with a larger-than-life drum roll and a very regal sounding riff to set the pace of the song. Immortal’s raw sound is back in Abbath’s gravely (but slightly shaky) vocals, the echoing axe-grinding riffs, and the drums which gallop energetically but give more prominence to the vocals and guitars. The riffing retains the quintessential Immortal sound punctuated by that crisp chilling feel when both guitars harmonize during a particularly nasty riff like when the band relentlessly breaks down at about the halfway mark while the drums increase the tempo with some brutal rhythms. The cold feel remains as the song picks back up cycling through harmonic riffs, but it’s the addition of blast beats to the original guitar sound that solidifies the fact that Immortal is back and sounding just as raw and black metal as the band did nearly two decades ago. The song fades out during a solo, which is uncharacteristic of Immortal’s style of abrupt endings, but ensures the listener will remember this impressive song’s tempo long after it is finished.
While there was much thought put into making this latest Immortal release sound in touch with the band’s original style, “All Shall Fall” can’t help but sound very new. The production is the most obvious example with very little overall blending, plenty of distortion and reverb from the bass guitar, crisp drumming that echoes chillingly, vocals that show Abbath’s aging at times, and guitars distinct enough to make every note audible rather than display the general gist of each riff. The samples used to open songs, Abbath’s signature over-the-top laughs, and the guitar riffs bring Immortal to a crossroads between sounding new and seeming old as each new approach to the old elements of the band’s music show where the band wanted to reinvent itself and where the band chose to stay their course. The cavalry battle sample in “Hordes to War” falls in perfectly with the song’s movement and doesn’t come off as cheesy as it would seem, but Abbath’s laughs in the same track don’t work nor never really have through the musician’s career. It seems that having the vocalist laugh is a growing trend in black metal, but on this album it’s a very unnecessary extra that makes the band seem too showy where the focus is weakest. As expected from Immortal’s original sound is Apollyon’s bass guitar which emits a heavy distortion that brings plenty of auditory atmospheres with it. Playing the opener of “Mount North”, the distorted resonance of the bass riff sounds like howling winds across desolate plains that ascend the mountain of sound erected by Abbath and Horgh on guitars and drums. This track has just enough blending to sound like an early Immortal song. With straightforward riffing and vocals that come to an anthemic chorus punctuated by a percussive exertion that follows the guitars with multiple tempos from each piece of the kit, Horgh is a drumming powerhouse on this track. Also amazing is Abbath during the solo sections which widely deviate and quickly return to the original structure. “Mount North” is Immortal’s new sound with the old approach and the band pulls it off excellently. Though so much has changed about this black metal power trio, their music has consistently taken inspiration from their original musical musings.
Immortal’s latest album is just as great as their earlier albums were in some places. In other places, Immortal revamps their style, delivery, and presentation to show that as they age, the band still intends to perfect and progress with their music, making “All Shall Fall” another exceptional chapter of this band’s history.
When Abbath decided to form 'I' a few years back there was a certain feeling of inevitability that this day would come. And it has. If you're expecting a reinvention of the wheel then just don't bother (pretty much with black metal in general). Abbath is one of the coolest motherfuckers on earth. And he didn't need to kill someone or burn a church to do it. As a matter of fact, Immortal have been known to have cheesiest images in metal history. I suppose its his "I don't give a fuck!" attitude and just focus on playing kick ass music that does it.
These guys "get it". They understand what they are great at and they stick to that formula very well. So here we have 'All Shall Fall'. I purchased the digipak version which is really sweet, nice gatefold opening into a typical cheesy Immortal picture inside, but since we already expected that it's not a problem. This is clearly one of those "it's so bad it's cool" moments you talk about to friends. Seeing the length of some of these songs I expected 'At The Heart Of Winter' and in some cases this album reminds me of that. I guess of all of them that may be it's closest cousin. But the album definitely has traces of 'Blizzard Beasts' on 'Hordes Of War' with it's blasting breakneck speed of Abbath's guitar. 'Arctic Swarm' sounds like a lost track off of the aforementioned 'ATHOW' album. 'Mount North' reminds me of the I side project.
A little bit of everything is thrown in this album from Abbath's past and they are all done with passion and precision. We cannot underestimate Demonaz's contribution to this album and Immortal's work post-Blizzard Beasts. He does the lyrics and I feel he has a role in the music for sure. NO doubt this band is the brainchild of him and Abbath. Horgh once again delivers behind the kit and is clearly one of the least talked about drummers in metal. He is in the upper echelon of drummers out there. Just listen to him to anything he's done from Blizzard Beasts to All Shall Fall. He is the perfect fit for Immortal. They'll never have to looks elsewhere with a drummer like him. I love his drumming on 'Unearthly Kingdom'. That track is definitely done with 'Sons Of Northern Darkness' in mind. Their longest track on the album. But their best track in my opinion is 'Norden On Fire' which is an ode to 'Blashrykh (Mighty Ravendark)' from the Battle In The North album. These guys have undeniable feel for the "epic track". They execute it as good as anyone out there, the song structure and buildup is what they do best. In a way this album is Immortal's career in a nutshell, in one cd, I love it.
Without any doubt whatsoever this comeback album from Norwegian black metal legends Immortal represents the most eagerly anticipated extreme metal album of 2009, and by quite some distance too. There must exist many reasons for Immortal's stature these days nigh on 20 years after formation. After all, we've all laughed merrily/grimly (delete as appropriate to your take on all things 'panda metal') to classic videos like "The Call of the Wintermoon", borne witness to the numerous internet piss-takes at ridiculous Immortal photo shoots and at one point all thought the band looked a tad silly trying to look threatening holding a TV aerial in spiked shinpads.
But then one might ask why other bands like Dark Funeral, who look just as silly in my opinion, are not so revered? It's cos Immortal have consistently backed up their image with some great music, and in the case of "All Shall Fall"'s predecessor "Sons of Northern Darkness", released one of this decade's greatest metal albums. So as is the case with any album so highly anticipated the hype-machine comes in full motion, often disguising the true worth of the album in question and making the review process all that bit harder. So does "All Shall Fall", the band's eighth studio album, match up to "Sons of Northern Darkness"?
Overall, no, but only in the same manner that "South of Heaven" was inferior to "Reign In Blood". "All Shall Fall" is still a great listen: we have, of course, the 'patented' Immortal guitar tone and Abbath's grimtastic vocal style, two factors that instantly separate Immortal from the blackened pack. At this juncture it is worth noting however the aforementioned guitar sound is weaker in comparison to the fantastic one found on "Sons..."; where we previously had the sharp icy-tone with an evident note of fuzzy feedback, the cleaning up job for "All..." has removed the fuzz and some of the ice for a more classic metal sound. Abbath, however, sounds as demonic as ever, instantly recognisable and with a greater clarity than before.
The weight of the band's sound and self-confidence in their abilities shines through in "The Rise Of Darkness" and "Unearthly Kingdom" as it is their subtle touches in piecing together a collection of riffs that may have been mere bland when recorded by anyone else but which with Immortal come out as inspired and calculated. The performances of Horgh and Apollyon rarely leave anything to be desired but it is Abbath's guitar work and range of feels that he exudes which make much of the band's work eternally enjoyable and one suitable too to a larger audience than may conventionally be the case with such a musical style.
As a metal fan first and foremost and reviewer second I could be described as a sucker for metal that is 'epic' in one way or another and with tracks like "Norden On Fire" and "Unearthly Kingdom" we are not let down. The scale of frozen vastness so wonderfully captured on "Sons...", making it the classic that it is, is most prominent in the feel of Bathory-Viking-era-esque "Norden On Fire", accentuated by the pounding pace and it's entirely headbanging-worthy nature; if one track could be used to describe Immortal today I would take this one as it gets better with every listen. Sandwiched between "Hordes To War" and "Arctic Swarm" though, "Norden On Fire" highlights "All Shall Fall"'s biggest problem: songs such as these two are good hammering tracks but not up to scratch if we were looking for a true successor to "Sons...". Being ‘good’ has now come to not be enough when in the context of Immortal.
It's taken me some time to come to these opinions but to listen to "All Shall Fall" purely as it's own release is the best method to gain it's maximum enjoyment because in that respect it will definitely leave its mark as another work from one of the genre's most respected and unique bands. To expect it to live up to "Sons..." and the preceding 7 year gap is a step too far but when you can guarantee noone else will sound like Immortal this year or the next, the album gains an extra degree of significance despite only being a 7.5.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net
It's been a long, hot 6-7 years since Immortal 'broke up' after releasing Sons of Northern Darkness, and ever since, their starving legions of fans have awaited the return of their cold, hoarfrosted tones. To be fair, we did get a taste of wintry paradise with 2006's Between Two Worlds album from Abbath's supergroup I (which really grew on me after an initial, mixed reaction), and this new Immortal full-length really combines that style with a little Blizzard Beasts and Sons of Northern Darkness to produce another monolithic milestone in the band's career.
Despite the torrent of internet mockery over photographs that this band has taken (likely in self-depredation), they've always been one of the very finest of Norway's black metal dynasty. They have never really faltered, and they certainly don't on All Shall Fall. The album is monstrous, with some of the best guitar tones I've ever heard on a recording of this type. The simpler, warlike riffing of their previous album remains intact here, each track a shimmering, accessible glimpse of desolate northern beauty that stains the mind long after the last beat of its drum. "All Shall Fall" leads the cavalry, a jackhammering white wyrm of grand guitar with subtle melodic textures forcing the line. "The Rise of Darkness" trots out with a pulverizing rhythm before its scintillating I-like hooks conjure fire and rain, sadness and glory. "Hordes to War" is forceful and brutal, recalling some of the material from Blizzard Beasts and In the Heart of Winter. "Norden On Fire" features deeper, melodic riffage (again reminding me of I), and "Arctic Swarm" scorches with some winding, thrashing rhythms and incessant drum battery. "Mount North" captures a lot of the savagery of the last album, and the album closes with it's 'epic', "Unearthly Kingdom", which is the best fucking song on this record and also very like what we heard on Sons of Northern Darkness.
It would be an understatement to say All Shall Fall sounds good...it sounds staggering, the rival of anything the band has released before. The material culls the best aspects of past works, and if you're a loyal Immortal fan, what more could you ask for? I'd be hard pressed to number it among their best works, after all this is Immortal and they have been kicking ass for ages, but it certainly fits in with their better material and is a truly satisfactory comeback.
It feels a bit strange actually listening to new Immortal material. After what started as a rumour years ago, Immortal finally confirmed that they would be returning with another offering of ice cold blackened metal; the Norwegian way. Subsequent to several delays, All Shall Fall has finally surfaced from the realms of Blashyrkh. What makes listening to this album even more surreal is that it doesn’t sound like Immortal ever put to rest their instruments of battle.
It’s clear that things haven’t changed from the triumphant riff of the opening title track, which sounds just like something off of 1999’s classic, At The Heart of Winter. After being winterized by the ice-cold guitar tone and Horgh’s relentless onslaught on the drum kit, Abbath lets out a nasally grunt which made my sack quiver with excitement the first time I heard it. Immortal are back. This track also contains a grim spoken section before Abbath continuously groans the title of the song. The Rise of Darkness varies in pace, but mostly delivers at a dangerously fast one, however not in comparison to Hordes of War which sounds like a Battles in the North track with clear production. Seriously, this one is vicious and will rip your face off if you’re not careful. It’s good to know that while Immortal now focus on grand songs and epic atmospheres, they still know how to shred a fast one. Norden on Fire is a personal favourite of mine. It differs from the other songs on the album but is still completely Immortal. Opening with a soft, Bathory worshipping intro, it bursts into a triumphant riff and everything comes together to make this an extremely strong epic.
While All Shall Fall contains much of the thrash influence from Sons of Northern Darkness, it’s also their most atmospherically pleasing offering since At The Heart of Winter. Some light keyboards are used sparsely throughout the album to heighten certain moments here and there, but for the most part Immortal just stick to chilling riffs and the occasional clean interlude and acoustic flavour to spice up the mix. The lengthy, ambient intro to the mighty closer, Unearthly Kingdom sets a darkly grim mood which permeates throughout the entire song. Its crushing heaviness comes from its slow, pounding pace, however the speed greatly varies throughout the song.
You’ll find as many memorable riffs as you’d expect from an Immortal album with each song having something to offer. Horgh once again gives a mightily impressive performance, further cementing his legacy as Immortal’s most competent drummer. Abbath’s vocals are the same croaky snarls as always and don’t worry, he’s still singing about the coldness that is Blashyrkh with Demonaz handling lyric duties.
Even though this album proves that Immortal are still fully capable of kicking dick, it doesn’t do as much to expand their sound as their older albums have done. The upside of that note is the fact that this album is one hundred percent vintage Immortal in all of their glory. They’ve come a long way since Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism but the vision has forever remained the same. Immortal have certainly musically evolved since the golden days of black metal, but as a band they have grown firmly from their roots. All Shall Fall is a reminder that Immortal are still a powerful force and one to be reckoned with. It’s reassuring to know that a band as legendary as Immortal are still carrying the banner so proudly. For that, they will always have my support.
After being under the radar for at least seven years Immortal emerges back into the scene with their latest cd "All Shall Fall". For a band with a lengthy and worthy history this release comes in as their eighth studio album. Unfortunately, Demonaz had to retire playing guitar because of
tendonitis in his arm. Good news is that he is now the band's main lyricist and although he no longer plays he still accompanies the band on tour.
The release wastes no time getting in your face with the title track "All Shall Fall". Although guitar solos are a rarity in this genre of music you will still find your fair share on this one. There is a more facetious feel to this cd (just my opinion) and it sounds a little less grim then the rest. The things that have not lost their appeal however are the amazing technical drumming abilities of Horgh (which truly saves this album for me) and Abbath's screaching vocals ( at times it brings me back to their first releases). My fave tracks on the cd are easily "Arctic Swarm" and "Mount North" The arrangements and production are huge which is no suprise when you work alongside Peter Tagtgren.
If you are a fan of Immortal then there is no doubt that you were anticipating this release, I know I was. I kind of didn't expect anything new to come from them other then the lyrical content to be quite honest. I have learnt that the more you expect great things the easier it is to get let down. Did the cd wow me? Not really although it was a nice follow up to Sons Of Northern Darkness and Blizzard Beasts. The atmosphere of this for me was not so cold as it was chilly.
The real bonus is that its release date comes in around the same time as an other Norwegian Black Metal band Gorgoroth and Swedish band Marduk, which might earn them a few extra spins to compare. If you were a big fan of the band when they released Pure Holocaust I can only imagine that you are on the same page as me if not then I guess we are reading a totally different book.
Word is that they are already recording a new album to follow up on this one,let's just hope they bring back the grimness they once started with.
Originally written for www.xplosivemetal.com
Perhaps my standards are too high. Perhaps I’m just a person who despite my youth and poor music taste yearns for something that, well, wasn’t released in 2009. Unfortunately to my great distress Immortal of all bands has brought my musical grouchiness to the fore recently. I love Immortal’s music. Whether it’s the amazing epics of “Sons of Northern Darkness” or the thunderous blizzard that is “Battles in the North”, Immortal have never really made a bad album. Unless you count “Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism” which deserves negative points for butchering “Unholy Forces of Evil” and “Cold Winds of Funeral Frost” (all the cool people call it “Frost” not “Dust”, because the EP version is BETTER THAN THE ALBUM VERSION). Perhaps then it is entirely possible that I would have high expectations for Abbath and his cohort of spiked merry men and their new album. “Between Two Worlds” certainly proved Abbath still had an excellent talent in writing and performing music. However, that would be a lie. I approached this album with no expectations (due to the aforementioned cynicism) and still came away disappointed.
Why? Why oh why Abbath have thee bored me, because bored I most certainly am when listening to this album. Immortal have always been very Bathory influenced, yet “All Shall Fall” suffers from the problem of just trying to jam too much Bathory down our throats. “What?!??” you say, “Too much Bathory? Impossible!” I might be inclined to agree with you, if it were not that “All Shall Fall” sounds like a cross between “Requiem” and the general Bathory worship of later Immortal. While I love “Requiem” and consider it one of Quothorn’s more underrated albums, the mixture just doesn’t work. Abbath sounds like he wants to make our swords rise with a “Battle Hymn” inspired, bravado filled Immortal epic yet at the same time work around Destruction’s policy of thrashing ‘til death. Ultimately it doesn’t work. The slow and fast sections are just too much of a contrast, they sound like Sons of Northern Darkness decided to have sex with Godzilla: it comes of as out of place and sometimes plain bizarre.
That said, despite my negativity not all is bad. Abbath’s vocals are in prime form and it honestly seems like they’re actually getting better with every passing year. Horgh’s drumming is as competent as ever and Apollyn… Okay, he doesn’t really do much, but hey, at least he’s not doing anything specifically bad. The musicianship as a whole is excellent, yet let down by the song writing and production. The guitars sound excellent; they have a somewhat raw, biting tone to them that can carry both the thrash inspired sections and the slower, ice filled sections of post-“Blizzard Beasts” compositions. Where the production (and mix, I should say) starts to fall apart is the drums. The drums are just too “thudding” and loud. It seems as if the sole element is for Nuclear Blast to be able to say in its advertising campaigns “Immortal has blast beats buy buy buy!” The really unfortunate thing is the mixer has taken an already too powerful drum sound and put it up in the mix. The vocals and bass are often drowned by the guitar and drum combination as a result. It’s all very unsatisfying really, and it makes one even less inclined to pay attention than they might already be.
Unfortunately at the end of the day I’d rather listen to “Battles in the North”, which strikes me as somewhat unfortunate. I didn’t even get New Album Psychosis, whereby a newly listened album is given repeated plays over and over and over. “All Shall Fall” doesn’t make me feel like listening to it again. I struggled to get through the album in the first sitting and I already felt like listening to Bathory after the first song. In fact, that’s an excellent idea: don’t listen to Metal Hammer’s claims that this is set for best album of the year (that either tells you something of a shift in focus of the “metal mainstream” towards “black” metal or something about the quality of the album) because it’s not, just go get some Bathory and listen to it. All day and night if you have to, as long as you’re listening to Bathory. Abbath and Immortal are better than this album, and “Nordland II” is better than both.
I was expecting a lot from a new Immortal album. I was probably expecting too much. What I didn't expect was an album so close in spirit to Abbath's side project.
As with many things in life, All Shall Fall sounds best when you check your expectations at the door. On initial listens, my brain was racing, trying to map out the new Immortal landscape. It's a waste of time; All Shall Fall is a great album.
During Immortal's hiatus, Abbath released Between Two Worlds under the moniker of I, along with Ice Dale, T.C. King and Armagedda. It was an excellent album of blackened power metal by way of Quorthon tribute that I still listen to regularly. I expected that Abbath would shun this direction entirely upon reforming Immortal, but I was wrong. The first song and title track on All Shall Fall would fit right into that album.
What does this mean? Immortal was always about battle and triumph. I think the triumphs here are no longer quite so grim. Perhaps they are a little bit happy. Abbath has synthesized the pure and simple joy he found on Between Two Worlds into a new Immortal. It brings a smile to my face, at least. All Shall Fall is a celebration of something joyous that eschews the misanthropic essence of black metal.
One of my first impressions of the album is that the production is askew. It seems to lack a low-end punch. The patented swarming guitar sound seems to be mostly missing. But having seen Immortal live, I know that's not how they sound in person. Perhaps their older albums were unnaturally compressed? Either way you cut it, the result on All Shall Fall is closer to their live sound. That's fine with me, but it did require an adjustment period.
The riffage here is pretty good. Perhaps it's not up to the absurd level of my expectations, but good nonetheless. The clean passages are excellent and inspiring. There are moments of sheer guitar brilliance sprinkled throughout the songs, but they are not constant. Make no mistake, an Abbath slightly off his game is still better than most of the players on the field.
One of the biggest things you'll notice on All Shall Fall is a general downshift in velocity. Many of the tempos here are mid-paced. This creates a stark contrast when Horgh turns on the speed. The result as a whole is a greater sense of dynamics throughout. I think contrast is the main theme of the album. All Shall Fall is all about movement - light and dark do differ here.
So what's the verdict? You'll get up out of your seat and squeeze the oranges, I'm sure. Be sure not to over-analyze. Just sit back and let yourself be frozen by the Icewinds from your stereo.
Originally posted here: http://atanamar.blogspot.com/
Well after 7 years of waiting, it's finally released. When I first picked it up I thought it would be exactly like their previously release, Sons of Northern Darkness, but the band actually has progressed a bit. The two albums are similar in some ways, but there are a lot of differences. You can hear them on some songs, for example Norden on Fire and Arctic Swarm. Each song has a distinct sound and it's easier to decipher every one after hearing the album over a few times. I'm an old Immortal fan, and when I heard about the album's release I was extremely excited, but I also had high expectations for it. Was this album really worth the wait? I think it was.
Getting back to Norden on Fire and Arctic Swarm Norden on Fire (I'm using these examples because they're two of my favorite songs on the album) starts off with an acoustic/electric intro and has an epic feel you heard from At the Heart of Winter. Arctic Swarm has a more thrashy feel like you would get from Damned in Black/Sons of Northern Darkness. Within this album I've found more diversity than any other Immortal album, which is why I think it's such a solid release. It's not easy to get bored listening to it.
Another interesting feature was the guitar solos. Almost every song on the album has a recognizable guitar solo, like on The Rise of Darkness. They're not easily forgettable either (like the guitar solos on Battles in the North, or Damned in Black). Every time I listen to the album, I get excited to hear the guitar solo's in the songs because they add so much more to them. They seem to come in at the perfect moments.
The atmosphere is the same here as on the other albums; a "Grim and Frostbitten" image and feel in every song, which is a great thing because this is where Immortal has found their niche in black metal. I've always loved listening to Immortal's releases because of the atmosphere.
The drumming on the album was exceptional for a black metal album. Horgh's style of drumming consists of more than just blast beats. There's actually a bit of technicality in the drumming, which is great. Sure there's some blast beats here and there, but they're not overused.
And also, the bass is extremely audible, and for the first time, there's a bass intro; in the song Mount North. The bass actually adds to the atmosphere as well as accents to the drumming.
The vocals aren't as high pitched as in the older Immortal albums, they're actually a bit lower. But that doesn't mean that the vocals are bad my no means. They go with the songs very well. Also, Abbath has added a little melody in the vocals too, which can be heard in All Shall Fall and Norden on Fire.
The riffs are similar to Sons of Northern Darkness and At the Heart of Winter, but you can hear a difference in them because they're a lot more riffs in the songs than you'd expect, and some are not played as long as normal. Like I said, the guitar solos defiantly add a lot more to the songs too.
Overall, I'd defiantly recommend this album to an old Immortal fan, or any Immortal fan. It has wonderful atmosphere and feel, great guitar riffs (and solos), great vocals, great bass, and exceptional drumming. This is the perfect Immortal album. What more could you ask for? It has everything you didn't get from the older Immortal albums.
As a huge fan of black metal, there were always two bands I considered the pinnacle of what there was in the genre, and that was Emperor and Immortal. Emperor is easily my favorite of the two, and also my favorite band period. I loved Prometheus, but I could also see how it was flawed in the way that there was some patience required, which is something that the average black metal fan doesn’t have. All shall fall, on the other hand, is definitely my preferred career-ending album so to speak. It’s just as good as anything else from their discography if not better. I really could care less that it sounds like everything post-At the heart of winter, they didn’t half-ass it, and it sounds awesome, and that’s all that really matters.
The album kicks right off from the start with the album title track. Horgh starts off pounding the double bass and Abbath plays the extremely catchy opening riff. The entire album officially starts when Horgh begins his crazy blast beats, definitely an awesome drummer who I put next to frost and hellhammer. Abbath’s awesome vocal style hasn’t worn out one bit, and the riffs are awesome. What more could you possibly want?
As I expected, the next track, the rise of darkness, is a more mid paced song that picks up speed later on to mix it up. At this point I had been sure this was my favorite immortal album period. The rest of the album maintains it’s awesomeness through Abbath’s awesome signature buzzed out guitar tone and awesome riffs, and of course, anything produced by Peter Tagtgren ends up sounding awesome. The album has a really good atmosphere and doesn’t sound so dry and clean and digital like a lot of new albums. The drums sound fucking huge, and for me, that’s a plus in any metal album.
The pacing is all over the place. Hordes of war is a lot more like a thrash metal song, and makes the German thrash label more appropriate, although I never understood that comparison, as they don’t sound anything like Sodom. After this thrash assault, Nordens on fire comes in with a clean guitar intro that instantly reminds me of Bathory’s Hammerheart. The rest of the song is blood, fire, death, worship and I love it.
Arctic Swarm is easily my favorite track on the album. Abbath’s awesome riffing is at its strongest on this track. There are no blast beats, it just rolls along and makes you feel like you’re riding alongside an enormous army of evil. There’s a nice solo at the end too. Abbath isn’t known for technically astounding leads or anything, but he gets the job done, and all you really need with music like this is a lot of tapping and whammy jerking.
The remainder of the album is very solid, and the last track Unearthly kingdom has an eerie synth intro, I could already tell this was going to be the doomiest, slowest track on the album, and I was right. A similar closing track to sons of northern darkness, although it does pick up the pace later on. The song sounds almost melancholy, as if to say this is it, this is the end of immortal.
All in all, this is definitely my favorite immortal album, and my pick for best album of 2009. It’s more of the same, but it doesn’t sound tired and lacking of inspiration. It’s really more than I could have asked for. Most bands with similar reputations have called it quits for the sake of “knowing when to quit making music” or just plain suck now. Immoral on the other hand have always delivered, and this album delivers in truckloads. Never mind that it sounds the same as their last three albums, just listen to it.
When I first heard of Immortal, it was an age of grief do to our heroes’ disbandment. The winds howled on lifelessly without the band running around to give them the bite they once showed off. The band I was formed to fill the gap, pleasuring our more heavy metal side without (presumably) staining the name of Immortal. Between Two Worlds was magnificent, and afterward Immortal themselves regained the strength and willpower to continue in the face of bleaker obstacles; a comeback album was in need.
Here before us, years later to see this decade pass in history, lay All Shall Fall, the album I thought I’d never hear from an Immortal I believed broke up for good. Abbath’s claims of a second Blizzard Beasts was bullshit, but what he and the gang delivered instead hardly disappoints, I assure you. While Sons Of Northern Darkness was indeed a worthy closer, it wasn’t really my favorite. All Shall Fall continues that general thrash / black sound while borrowing from I’s Between Two Worlds, mixed in with some influences from past albums such as At The Heart Of Winter.
The core of the music is undeniably Immortal; the pace, arrangements, epic feeling; it’s as if nothing really changed these past six years of waiting. Production thankfully is much like Between Two Worlds and Sons Of Northern Darkness, so the generally cold but thrashy atmosphere keeps the songs alive and pumped. Every instrument is reckless and barbaric – fearless in the face of an inevitable battle. Mixing is fantastic, with all the instruments respecting one another’s role between fast and mid-paced rhythms. Every song is hard-hitting with enough power to knock your head back, executed mercilessly by Abbath’s deafening riffs. Bass support hounds at every moment, grumbling like avalanches roaring down the slopes in an effort to bury you alive. My subs have no problem making the house rumble, and I have no problem letting Abbath and Apollyon tearing this place apart.
While less blunt with its epic sound in comparison to say Between Two Worlds, All Shall Fall still achieves this spiritually ascending tone, owing much to the honorary Bathory (that’s who I hear). The most awesome of charges hail from the latter half of the album, but it begins with “Norden On Fire” with its delicious opener; the acoustic / clean guitar mesh leading off the song marks an ode to those found on At The Heart Of Winter and even the acoustics on the debut if you want to be that picky. Abbath himself still pays tribute to Popeye, groaning loudly against the backdrops of mountain strongholds linking the horizon. They have this icy tone to them, like amidst a storm of hazing winds and rupturing, melodic leads. They’re not too croaky like on Between Two Worlds, but I wouldn’t be too off saying that he actually brought back a little of the old screaming style with him (circa Pure Holocaust / Battles In The North). Again, its not too blatant, but you’ll notice the traces when they arise - like old ghosts haunting the realm of Blashyrk.
Sustaining all hate with pure hatred of his own is Horgh, and yes, you might want to put the children in another room when hearing this man’s drumming. He’s stayed alive with Hypocrisy, but Immortal is the band where he really seals the deal in making mountains bellow. Not only do the drums sound rich and booming, but the assault comes in so many different varieties that it makes for the next catchiest piece of the album. Toms, double bass, snares, hats, and cymbals all unite to charge forward at your hearing senses, bashing them endlessly. There’s no hollow sound, no protruding crashes, no muffled double bass – the drumming here is what I’d designate mightiest part of All Shall Fall. He’ll lurch with thunderous beats but will show no mercy when the time comes to batter with endless speed – a pace that accounts for most of the album.
Seven tracks clocking at over forty minutes keep this one focused and filling, with room only for minor errors that I still find a bit of difficulty holding up to all the positives. It’s hard to conjure up these negatives while hearing this album, since the only downside I can think of includes some boring sections in the earlier songs. The band has stiff competition when going for the best album of the year, even though they’ve already made a name for themselves with their iconic legacy. They don’t need to win album of the year; all we wanted was a comeback album, and I believe the band satisfied us well enough.
So here we are, 7 years after the mighty Sons Of Northern Darkness. Press releases had said that Abbath and company wanted to go back to where they left off with Blizzard Beasts. I had some hope for a record of that caliber (or better as I'm not that big a fan of Blizzard Beasts), as Damned In Black was Immortal's only real misstep in my opinion. That album wasn't horrible so much as it was uninteresting. I never figured they'd approach that nadir again, especially after the great Sons Of Northern Darkness album and I’s Between Two Worlds album. Both were fantastic, so I had high hopes for this record. In fact, this was my most anticipated release for 2009. Unfortunately for me, this has proved to be a let-down.
In typical post-Blizzard Beasts fashion, there are no true blazers on this record. Like its predecessor, it only gets slightly above mid-paced with its faster songs like All Shall Fall and The Rise Of Darkness. That's not really much of a problem with this record as it has worked well for Immortal on 2 out of their last 3 albums and it also worked well with Between Two Worlds. The problem is, a good chunk of the songs are filled with some interesting and cool moments but also with a lot of bland and uninteresting ones. The opening track, All Shall Fall, is actually a pretty good song, but it's also a song that you'd expect to find somewhere in the middle of a really good album, not as an opener. It doesn't exactly grab you by the throat and pummel you like One By One, Withstand The Fall Of Time or The Storm I Ride did on their respective albums. In fact, while it's good, it left me weary of what was to follow as I was hoping for a much stronger opening song, not a mid-paced jog through the snow. The Rise Of Darkness follows and is a decent song, with a beefy, grooving riff that makes one think a little bit of One By One or In My Kingdom Cold, but can't stand toe-to-toe with either of those monsters. I wasn't wild about it at first but it has grown on me a bit.
In between The Rise Of Darkness and the sixth track, Mount North, is a whole lot of icy filler. These filler tunes (Norden On Fire, Hordes To War and Arctic Swarm) do have their moments, but filler's filler in my opinion. Mount North is an epic, majestic, frost-bitten track as is its follower and closing track, Unearthly Kingdom. While these are pretty good songs, don't expect the epicness or majesty of past songs like Beyond The North Waves or Mountains Of Might. They are nowhere near that caliber. I think you could completely re-arrange the track listing here and the album would neither suffer nor benefit from doing so.
I know people get irritated when someone reviewing an album is instantly comparing it to past works of the band and even side projects of the main members but in this case, it's hard not to. Even as a stand-alone album, All Shall Fall is extremely underwhelming after such a long wait. This does not feel at all like it was worth waiting 7 years for. But it's not all bad. The cover art is Immortal's best and most serious yet, the atmosphere of the album is cold and monstrous and the production is fantastic—the album sounds great. The problem is that the songs just aren't there. As it is, All Shall Fall is a bit of a snoozer—a Sunday drive on a snowy road even.
If you were expecting Sons Of Northern Darkness Part II, you will not find it here (in my opinion we saw that on Between Two Worlds). If you were expecting a continuation of Blizzard Beasts as the press releases would like you to have expected, you definitely won't find it here, but you will definitely find an Immortal album. If you were simply expecting a good record...well, that's all subjective so maybe you will find it here. As for me, I was expecting a good record--not Sons Of Northern Darkness Part II, not a Blizzard Beasts continuation, just a good record. Well, I didn't really get it. If you're closely monitoring your bank account, look for this in a few weeks when used copies start populating Amazon.com and eBay, or your local record store if you're still fortunate enough to have one that's worth a shit. Buyer beware, this thing isn't anything to go berserk over. In fact, it ranks just above Damned In Black and I don't see it going much higher than that. Maybe next time.
What we have here is quite possibly the year's most anticipated black metal album. Seven years after disbanding, Abbath, Horgh, and Apollyon have reunited to continue where they left off with their last opus, Sons of Northern Darkness. Does it live up to the hype? Was the bar set too high with their last release, and did they reach it now with All Shall Fall?
Quite frankly, Immortal haven't surpassed themselves, nor declined. All Shall Fall continues in the exact same direction as Sons of Northern Darkness carried, but this time around, there is more focus on atmosphere rather than technicality and brutal riffage. Songs like the title track, The Rise of Darkness, and Norden on Fire grasp the listener with a thrusting intensity, before plunging them into an icy cold realm of whirling winter storms and fierce witnerdemons; an atmosphere unmatched by rival black metal bands. Immortal have crafted their signature sound into a sonicscape so profound and moving that could be an album of the same song played seven times over, yet still captivate even the most skeptical listeners.
Lyrically, it's typical Demonaz. Fairy tales of fearsome battles, wintery sorrow, grimness, and permafrost. As corny as they may be, Abbath's voice is more prominent, and dare I say... melodic, than on Sons of Northern Darkness. This may be his strongest vocal performance since At the Heart of Winter! Abbath's signature rasp never ceases to amaze.
The only complaint one may have about this brand new opus is its running time. In classic Immortal fashion, there are no more than eight tracks on the disc (only seven, actually), and spans a running time of just over forty minutes. Hopefully the box set will come with a few extra tracks of icy cold riffing and blasting to make that running time a bit longer (and extend the sub-zero atmosphere even longer).
Overall, it's a very solid album and does not disappoint, much akin to the new releases of bands such as Behemoth and Anaal Nathrakh. Big name bands still cranking out quality music. That's what this music is all about.
So, Immortal has returned after something like seven years in the creativity wilderness, and what have they learned? Nothing.
They have failed to capture even a single Pokemon of awareness.
"All Shall Fall" is more or less exactly what you would expect from post ''At the Heart of Winter'' Immortal. That album was a released at a junction in the band's history where the made the choice to alter their sound, taking their original black metal aesthetics and techniques and bolting them on to a very standard heavy metal frame which some have called thrash or German thrash (whatever that means...). So, for the last ten years or so Immortal have been dead in the water creatively, artistically there was nothing to be gained from reverting to an older style that their heroes played, Immortal simply became self referential, even ironic. All Shall Fall continues this trend.
Where At the Heart of Winter achieves a degree of success by the virtue of it's dog-slobbering energy All Shall Fall is an overall more brooding affair. The production combines the gassy reverberated old school black metal sound with the more widely acceptable modern ultra-clean bass register. The result is that it sounds like it was recorded onto a piece of metal and that all the instruments and voices are also made of metal, it clangs, it rings and it's very clear and crisp. The guitars are lower in the mix than in previous releases, coupled with the copious reverb and flange effects they sound edgeless and tame. This causes the rhythm section to take up the responsibility of driving the music. The result is a slamming, at times groovy sound that makes you want to tap along in time with the music without paying much attention to what is being played, which is probably just as well. There's all the stereotyped anthemic, chant-along sections, the galloping ascending riff followed by the swaggering Bathory style arpeggios (Norden on Fire) and Gothenburg style cheeseriffing dotted throughout the album.
It's as though Immortal mated with Amon Amarth and this album is their stroppy bastard child who poses in a Celtic Frost t-shirt, but you suspect that they prefer Cold Lake. Seriously. This record does have something of the AA in it, the stomping Hollywood-esque beats and the rather sugary melodies. It will please newcomers to metal and younger listeners perhaps. Or maybe just the clueless. Of course, it's a win-win for Immortal, if this album does well (which it surely will) they will have more straightforward, toe tapping material to play live that the crowd can follow while they rhythmically gyrate and so on. If the album does poorly, then they've still generated a lot of hype which is always good.
Ultimately this album is a failure and Immortal have become all but irrelevant, not on the scale of later Darkthrone perhaps, and this album is certainly better than the music Immortal's other peers are currently creating... but it's still not very good, it's stodgy round the middle and kind of poppy. If you thought what made Pure Holocaust great was it's originality, uniqueness and strength of vision you'd better avoid this one.