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This is what black metal should fucking sound like - 94%

VampireKiller, December 20th, 2007

Immortal's "At the Heart of Winter" album is the album that has caused my interest in black metal, albeit only black metal that doesn't sound like a load of noise. You see, "tr00 black metal" or "kvlt black metal" is basically nothing but a bastardised offspring of punk, that for some way or another, made its way into metal without anybody noticing it. Except for me, it seems. The music has always been Immortal's most important aspect, unlike with bands like Gorgoroth where their "Satanite message" is the most important thing. That's what I choose to label as false metal. Metal is ALWAYS supposed to be about the music, and while I agree that the message that a particular band is trying to present is important to some degree, it's always the music which is supposed to be the main priority!

The production is clear but at the same time quite raw. The guitars pack a lot of crunch, and the drums still have that black metal drum sound. The bass is inaudible, as on most black metal recordings

The album opens with the crushing song entitled "Withstand the Fall of Time". The opening riff is catchy as fuck, as is the following riff, and so on. Abbath is an underrated guitar player, and he is a total riff master. And his crocodile snarls are also distinctive as hell

"Solarfall" is the next song. It begins with a drum roll courtesy of the black metal drum meister Horg, and then a catchy riff kicks in which sounds almost like a power/thrash metal hybrid riff. The thrash element is understandable as this album is drenched with elements of German thrash metal. The only thing that brings this song down are the silly synth interludes which sound out of place

"Tragedies Blows at Horizon" differs from the other songs in that it's not as riff laden as the others. This song also has some synth interludes, but they fit perfectly into this song

"Where Dark and Light Don't Differ" is the first, and unfortunately, last song to feature a guitar solo from Abbath...and it kicks some fucking ass alright! It has a slightly more progressive structure than the rest of the songs, and it features excellent drumming

The title track is a very atmospheric piece. It starts out in a very spooky way with synths and sound effects of blowing winds, which then leads us into quite a groovy but yet atmospheric riff. And then a brilliant symphonic section appears which is slightly reminiscent of the keyboard intro to "Holy Diver" by Dio, before the song kicks into high gear with yet another barrage of riffs. Horg also delivers yet another stunning performance behind the drums with plenty of blast beats to make your neck sore

And finally the album closes with the monumental "Years of Silent Sorrow" which is my favourite song on this album. This is the thrashiest song on the album, with a riff after each verse that's catchy as hell. The intro reminds me somewhat of "The Glory of Achilles" by Manowar (the last part of their "Achilles, Agony and Ecstasy in Eight Parts" opus from their "The Triumph of Steel" album) with the powerful double bass

This is an album that I recommend to everyone who wants a taste of how awesome black metal can be!