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Immortal. Do they really need an introduction? Everyone knows what to expect when they pick up one their albums. Fast, cold, and at times, hilarious black metal. Their third release, Battles In The North, is no exception to this. Prior to this release, Immortal put out two other albums which didn’t disappoint in their own ways. However Battles In The North is the bands most relentless and blasting album to date. It seems as though it takes the style of Pure Holocaust and pushes it even further with mindfucking speed and, of course, grimness.
When I say that this album is heavy, I don’t mean Gorgoroth heavy. It still has melody and atmosphere but can kick you in the nuts at times if you aren’t paying attention. Opener and title track kicks off with an ultra fast riff that doesn’t give you a chance to catch your breath. Abbath’s vocals here are pretty standard for Immortal. In fact, have they ever really changed? Who cares, they work.
The music slows down a bit with Cursed Realms Of The Winterdemons, and yes, that is a fucking awesome song title. Here we are introduced to a clean and brooding intro which is then blasted away by more blastbeats. The blastbeats are also noteworthy because in case you didn’t know, Abbath did the drums on this album. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the drums and I admit that I am not a drummer so I can’t say if they are technically well done, but they don’t sound out of place to me. Although they certainly aren’t diverse either.
Demonaz is also impressive on this album. Many of the fast black metal riffs are very memorable, especially on the closer, Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark). This is definitely one of my favourite Immortal songs. It just has everything. Awesome riffs, great vocals, nice acoustic breakdown, and get a load of these lyrics: “Cometh the rightful kings of highest halls/Cry of ravens lurk the realm/Eternally through the noctambulant grimness.” I know what your thinking, ‘is noctabulant a real word?’ the answer is no. I was fairly sure but I checked to be positive. Nevertheless, I think it’s my new favourite word.
There’s only one thing I have a problem with about Battles In The North and that is the production. I’m not talking about buzzy early Darkthrone production, because I love that, I’m talking about half assed laziness. On numerous occasions the songs cut out noticeably too short, in the middle of a riff. If this doesn’t happen, then the following song begins with the ending riff of the last song. This probably wasn’t Immortals fault, but it does effect the album anyway.
If you’re looking for very influential, fast, and grim black metal, pick up Battles In The North ASAP!