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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.