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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.