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Cold blast of hatred - 100%

Taliesin, March 3rd, 2008

This and Pure Holocaust remain the great contributions to black metal's past and development that Immortal created. Both are very different, and yet perfect in their own ways. Battles In the North is a constantly blasting and cold recording, submerged in its own hoarfrost recording, made so you have to actually listen and pay attention to realise there is a lot going on in this recording.

The guitars and production seem to seek to actually sound like music being played in the middle of a freezing windy snow storm deep in the mountains. Swirling hateful blasts seem to encircle the listener, while the melodies that are indeed here, are buried under the noise. Drums don't help, being atypical, primarily based around at times extremely random shifts between blasts and slower beats, yet almost always having double bass pedals underneath, creating a kind of strange, shifting and strobing beat underlying everything, shadowing in a way the shifting and strobing guitars that trem pick throughout, with very few exceptions.

And it is the moments where the storm lets up that lets you realise the actualy beauty and power hiding under the hateful and unrelenting production and music. Moments when you realise the melancholic beauty that at times lurks, or the fantastic worldview that Demonaz and Abbath seek to infiltrate into your brain, worlds of dark raven kingdoms, demon kings and frost creatures lurking under rocks and caverns of the frozen and desolate north. Though over all this march vast dark hordes of a kind of pagan evil, that seeks to destroy the creations of normal men and the normal world. A Northern pride also is within them, a pride of their strength, their merciless hatred, their will to power to destroy their enemy.

The subconcious seems to revolve around these songs, submerging into them, into the constant noise of the recording, becoming accustomed to them eventually, though they seem to replecate the moments of sleeps oncoming, or the sleep deprived. Listening to this recording in either situation is interesting I will state, the trance feeling of such moments is only increased, and it becomes intensified as you fall deep into the constant stream of storm music.

Merciless and hateful this recording is yes, one of the most extreme statements of the black metal world, and yet once you get past the extremity, you realise the beauty and the strange catchiness of these works. It is a classic to stand next to Transilvanian Hunger, In the Nightside Eclipse, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, among the other classics of the Norwegian scene.

Essential listening.