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Not as dark and atmospheric than "At the Heart of Winter", but still there are some guitar pieces that are very catchy. It didn't get the ratings that I think that it deserves. Less focus on complete depressing black metal, this one is upscale and more endearing in a blackened metal album. A lot of the music is thrash metal based. They could have left out the solos because Abbath really isn't well versed in that department. But with the rhythms, he created some pretty original and catchy guitar work with tons of distortion. His vocal outputs still retain the odd sounds as they were before.
The music is filled with guitar that has certain complexities to it and the bass by Iscariah is well audible. I think that's what lacked on their predecessor. However, the riff-writing was NOT as good as it, but still is nevertheless a powerful piece of a recording. Something to listen to when you don't feel like hearing depressing metal. I suppose that a lot of people felt that this release was kind of a half assed recording. In that respect, I beg to differ. Yes, they did hit a different route on this recording, but it's still pretty solid and very catchy. That's what I liked about it totally.
Demonaz still contributes to the lyric writing. Damn shame that he cannot play the guitar anymore for the band. The last album that he was on was "Blizzard Beasts". That one had a pretty raw production. You won't find that here. A thrash-based Immortal here as I mentioned previously and a darn good/solid drum work that follows the music very well. I really dig the song "Triumph", but all of the tracks are worthy of praise, not just that one. Abbath and Horgh both are responsible for the music writing for all 7 tracks on here. They concoct some great blackened thrash metal.
A band that has fluctuated from being truly dark and black metal oriented, you won't find that much of it on here. There's a different approach that this album has found in them as, but still kicks butt. I think that the album could have contained more tracks and a longer span of music, but it clocks in at a little over 36 minutes in length. That's fine however their predecessor was more notorious in being a lengthier recording. It's alright though because the music is still kick ass and the blast beating still occurs here. Moderate, to fast, to clean tone this release captures it all.
If you want black metal that has a total thrash metal guitar work oriented album, "Damned In Black" is for you. If your looking for an Immortal album that isn't dismal and full of dismay, then you'd probably give this one not as good of a rating as "At the Heart of Winter". Peter Tagtgren was in charge of the production and mixing here and the release was recorded at the notorious Abyss Studios. Immortal fans would take a liking more to this one if they kept an open mind to the songwriting and musicianship. But if you're looking for a darker release, this might not be your "cup of tea" so to speak.