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Immortal's "At the Heart of Winter" - 100%

hailmarduk666, June 5th, 2010

There are some albums that I just love. This is one of them. This album is a rare gem where I can put the tracks on repeat, and listen all day long...and it never gets old and worn. Everything about this release is outstanding.

Abbath's vocals are his standard fare of croaking black metal rasps; seemingly to whisper, and allowing the crushing riffs and incessant drumming to rape your ears. He truly has one of the best black metal vocals, not overly harsh, and overdone, as some bands tend to use. It is also deeper than many others, which allows it to not interfere with the sound of the fuzzy and tinny guitar sounds.

His guitar work is magnificent, using awesome thrashy riffs and many speed changes and chord progressions. The guitarwork is extremely complex for only one guitar, and there is a density that showcases his skills very well. There are many different sounds that one can hear throughout the album; and it keeps every very long and epic song moving through blasting, and thrashing riffs, and also interludes of drawn-out single chords where his fingers seemingly take a quick break and let the fire from the fingertips smolder a bit, before launching into the next aural assault.

The drums are amazing here, from insanely fast blasts, to well-timed double bass and fantastic fills, Horgh doesn't restrict himself to a single one-dimensional style, mindlessly blasting away, or placing his feet on auto pilot while droning away on the double bass...He uses a lot of different timings for the snare, and uses his multitude of crashes well, and follows along with the speedy riffs with excellent percussion. He never loses time, and even during the interludes of slower chord progression, can fill the void extremely well. A quick bit on his double bass work, if you listen closely, you can hear that he doesn't stick with a single timing, he speeds up and slows down during the same riff, making the drumming even more technical than it first appears.

Overall, there is nothing lacking here. There are no bad songs, and even though the tracks are extremely lengthy, they don't grow stale and falter. This is mainly due to the fact that there are more riffs, time changes, and twists in each song than one can count. Touching in a broad spectrum of musical genres, and compacting it into a black metal package, this three-headed Norwegian monster has released one of my favorite black metal albums of all time. In my opinion, never before has there been such a stark difference in talent than there is with Immortal. The floodgates are open for basement bands like Zarach 'Baal' Tharagh who release shit just to release it, not giving a damn about what it may sound like, and never progressing much in regards to talent. Every once in a while, a band comes around that stands alone, and changes the face of their respective musical genre. Here, Immortal has done just that. From their musical talent and vision, to their highly recognizable corpsepaint, they have set the bar high for other bands to follow. Still going strong, they are one of the best that mighty Norway has to offer the world.