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At the Heart of Winter provides a fierce yet melodic serving of black metal. This does not sound like the minimalist ‘wall of noise’ black metal of Darkthrone and similar bands. In fact, it’s sound resembles Amon Amarth and other melodic death metal bands. Whatever exact genre this album is, its awesome. At the time of its release, Immortal was just a two-member band. Abbath handled all guitars, bass and vocals while Horgh played drums. I’m not to fond of Abbath’s vocals though; its not the greatest example of black metal vocals out there. They are low and, and I prefer a more higher pitched shriek (see Emperor for what I am talking about.) That being said, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say that they had the standard four member roster. The sound created by these two musicians is exceptionally full despite the lack of members. They are decent musicians too. Horgh goes berserk on the drums near the beginning of the song Withstand the Fall of Time. The guitar riffing is exceptional as well, and the riffs change frequently within in the songs so they never become boring.
On Solarfall, the band slows it down in sections, using clean channel guitars to add more atmosphere. Atmospheric elements like this are spread throughout the album. For instance, the title track utilizes synthesizers and keyboards. Little touches like these add a lot to the album, and it helps convey emotion. With the help of the lyrics, listening to this album brings to mind harsh, winter tundra. The lyrics are an interesting read; they are mostly about cold, grim, winters.
Actually, now that I think about it, there isn’t much wrong with ATHOW. Its got everything a metal head wants in music: killer yet melodic riffs and insane drumming. Their corpse-paint image may be a bit ridiculous, but at least they have great music to back it up.
Highs: Killer riffs; great atmosphere
Lows: The vocals aren’t the greatest
Final Comment: An excellent album, even for someone not into black metal.