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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.