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It's like a trial of passage now, for young, up-and-coming black metal fans to prove their serious commitment to all things true by turning their noses up at Immortal. "They're a joke black metal band!" rings out the cry of youngsters that, two summers past, were still fawning over Rush and Iron Maiden CDs, blissfully unaware of the musical discomfort that awaited them. I could mention the time I was in a record store and overheard a group of teenagers poking fun at a copy of Pure Holocaust, but the youngster I'm most directly referring to is obviously myself. Several years ago, I began listening to a lot of black metal; I was intent on hearing as much as I could, and was quickly taken by the atmosphere I was finding in it. By the time it came to checking out Immortal however, my head was already far enough up my own ass that I dismissed them on the grounds of silliness. Or, to be more specific: un-seriousness.
In concept, I still think Immortal is pretty silly, as any casual whose seen their video for "The Call of the Wintermoon" will testify. Of course, years later, I can understand why my original dismissal wasn't so fair. The spooky goings-on in Blashyrkh aren't as eerie as a Satanic invocation, nor as passionately felt as an Odalistic filosophy, but Immortal use their grimdark fantasy as a way to achieve much of the same timeless, haunting atmosphere in their music. Say what you will about Immortal; they have sincerity to their art that makes their over-the-top aesthetic work. Their music is solid, and they were just as serious about enshrining their sound in dark energies as much as their legendary kin.
While some of the Second Wavers, like Enslaved and Emperor, managed to nail their sound on the debut, many more usually took an album or two before they unlocked those own capabilities. As solid as Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism is, I believe Immortal belong to the second group. Like Darkthrone, Immortal began their descent into black metal with death metal as an entry. While these guys may have already had a strong idea where they wanted to go, their means on Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism were still rooted in death metal grit, no doubt derived from their time as Old Funeral. While this overlooked fusion gives the album a unique sound in the band's overall career, the album doesn't quite leave me thinking the crunchier guitars and slower pace really worked for what they wanted to accomplish.
Compared to Pure Holocaust (released the following year), Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism almost sounds like a demo. I mean that at least in the sense that the way they arranged their creative ideas is as if Immortal wanted to get all of their best ideas out on the same disc, without so much regard for the way it would look as a whole. They didn't find their sound here, but I think the amount of ingredients they tried tout for size accelerated their progress in time for the next album. Many of the defining traits here would be eschewed on later albums; I do think that evolution was a good move on their part, but the uncalculated, boisterous approach on Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism gave it an interesting character. While the death metal-leaning guitar limits Immortal from reaching their best tempos, the murky tone fits the atmosphere like a glove, and a few of the riffs (such as the centre-riff on "Cryptic Winterstorms") are instantly memorable. The vocals here don't sound so much like Abbath's now-signature croak as they actually do Varg Vikernes', specifically the impish shriek of his early records. The only thing Immortal seemed to really nail the first time around was their fantasy atmosphere; everything else would be switched out for something more focused and distinctive. If only for atmosphere alone however, you can still tell this is early Immortal you're listening to.
While it's a perfectly muddy (even basic) statement in early black metal, Immortal were already layering their gritty sound with acoustic guitars. While the acoustic segments are usually short (too short, in fact) it actually represents a part of their sound I would have liked to see them embrace to a far greater extent than they did. Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism were a refreshing innovation to an otherwise standard album; think of it-- Ulver got a lot of the credit for their incorporation of acoustics, and here Immortal was taking that ingredient to amazing effect on their debut. This is a really welcome aspect on the album; while most of the metal riffs are too crunchy/fuzzy to lend much in the way of melody, some fingerpicking amidst the harsh drums and shrieks gives the music a stronger sense of atmosphere.
Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism served its role nobly. It gave Immortal an opportunity to stretch their creative muscles and build a strong bridge between the death metal of the Old Funeral days to the archetypal style they're known for today. I'm actually really glad I decided to finally give Immortal the chance they deserved; I even think some of their work is brilliant. For the role of this debut, I think you can tell they had a special grasp of atmosphere-- it's just that the more tangible aspects of their sound hadn't fully developed yet. Any of the album's bigger flaws weren't a result of lacking inspiration or vision, but simple inexperience. The album still warrants some place in a Second Wave canon, but it can be said with some certainty that Immortal would have bolder days ahead of them.
A latecomer to the world of Immortal initially, I binged their albums like I was watching House of Cards on Netflix. Between the riffs and icy cold sound, Immortal is everything a black metal fan with penchant for guitar could want. But few talk about their first album, and as such this was the last one I listened to. I wasn't expecting much after hearing so many career highlights. But, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. This is every bit as good as their later stuff.
The year is 1992. Darkthrone is working on turning death metal into black with A Blaze in the Northern Sky, Varg Vikernes is crafting the self-titled Burzum album, and Mayhem are already a force to be reckoned with due to word of mouth and live performances. Meanwhile, three other young Norwegian men with a penchant for thrash and obvious love for Bathory are building their debut in the heart of this second wave movement. It is an exciting time, and new influences are everywhere.
It is fitting then, that Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism wears the touches of its peers on its snow-covered sleeve. From the first notes of “The Call of the Wintermoon,” one can hear the unmistakable sound of what would become the black/thrash of Immortal, but not yet having emerged from the womb. Abbath’s signature syncopated croaks are nowhere to found, replaced by a Burzumish tortured howling. It’s a difference that I feel works, and also helps this album stand out. Similarly, the riffs are far more repetitious and circularly structured a la early Darkthrone. “Blacker than Darkness” is a prime example. The (excellent) drums in both production and variety also nod to A Blaze in the Northern Sky. Both groups would favor a more simplified, muffled blastbeat approach on their sophomore albums.
But despite all of the similarities, there are moments that nod past the masses and ahead to perhaps their most unique, and arguably lauded, album: At the Heart of Winter. The addition of mournful acoustic guitars, longer runtimes, and progressive structures is something few others in the community were doing at the time. It would be 2 more years before Satyricon and Emperor would continue experimentation with untraditional instrumentation. It’s as if Demonaz opened these gates with tracks like “Cryptic Winterstorms” and “A Perfect Vision of the Rising Northland,” decided it wasn’t kvlt enough, and then shelved the ideas for another 7 years.
Clocking at only 35 minutes, Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism remains tight and there were no tracks that I considered "filler" aside from the brief intro. The riffs and beats are guaranteed to get you moving, and those who are turned off by Abbath’s usual approach may actually prefer this above the rest. On a side note, I also find it amusing that the debut has better album artwork than most of their catalog save for At the Heart of Winter and All Shall Fall. Euronymous must have spanked them for using color. Don't skip this outstanding piece of history.
Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism stands as one of the greatest triumphs of atmosphere in a black metal record. Released shortly after Darkthrone’s seminal A Blaze In the Northern Sky LP, Immortal’s first full-length is not only a landmark in the burgeoning underground of early 90s Norway, but an all-time masterpiece of Norwegian black metal. Like their comrades at the time, Immortal ditched their death metal leanings to begin writing as a true black metal band⎯and what resulted was one of the darkest pieces of music they have ever produced.
Pytten is truly the unsung hero of the album. Though not technically part of the trio of darkness, Pytten’s production and engineering lend a great deal to the music’s truly evil vibe. The guitar tone, accentuated by Abbath’s unearthly voice, impresses upon the listener the sense that the album was recorded by some ancient means, long ago, by cave-dwelling winterdemons. There’s a slight echo, or maybe even a “hollow” sound to the recording that genuinely hints the music was being blasted in some frozen cave in a barren wasteland. That being said, the production quality of the album does not seem purposefully “necro”⎯each instrument is audible and lends a hand in immersing the listener in darkness.
On Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism Immortal are at their most evil, delivering some of the darkest music and lyrics of their career. Demonaz’ lyrics triumph as Abbath rasps and roars the malevolent words amidst a flurry of guitars. The song “Unholy Forces of Evil” showcases some of Immortal’s most wicked lyrics: “The unholy forces of evil/Served up our diabolic souls:/Cults of death bathed in slaught/As the devil’s candles burn.” But the album isn’t all diabolical imagery; throughout the album Demonaz demonstrates the now oft-imitated natural lyrics that have accentuated much of Immortal’s music. On “A Perfect Vision of the Rising Northland,” he reveals his dark, natural leanings: “On the hillside/Where I stood, left for another world,/Tragedies blow at horizon;/The sun freezes to dust…”
Immortal are certainly one of the most recognizable entity’s in today’s black metal scene⎯particularly in Norwegian black metal. Before their legacy had been established, Immortal’s debut LP set them up for all future glorious victories. Immortal sound evil as fuck here, and their debut album stands as a testament to true black metal. No gimmicks, no goofy satanic lyrics, no derivation⎯just pure Norwegian black metal. Immortal would naturally evolve as a band and their sound would change significantly from the blustery winds of their debut, but Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism stands today as one of the greatest black metal records to crawl from the frozen black of early ‘90s Norway.
The story of Immortal is a long one, spanning more than 20 years and 8 albums, and undergoing various changes across this time. However, they are one of the few big-name black metal acts that did not dabble with symphonic black metal, nor did they ever once compromise their brutality, instead staying pure to their original sound, whilst evolving over the years. They have released many albums that should be staples of the black metal genre such as their second release, Pure Holocaust and their fourth release, Battles In The North.
Their debut release, Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism is one of their more debated releases, being the most "typical" of their releases, with poor recording quality and the most intense black metal screams from Abbath Doom Occulta of all their albums. This thirty five minute release contained seven songs, and, despite the fact it was their most ordinary black metal release, it still attempts to calve itself its own image. Several of the songs on here deal with the winter and ice, subjects that are staples of Immortal, but not so much of the black metal scene in general, a genre obsessed with Satan and suicide. Also featured is a little more melody into their songs, although not to the degree that they are any less brutal.
The melody on Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism is formed primarily through the use of acoustic guitars on A Perfect Vision Of The Rising Northland. The acoustic guitar introduces this song, helping develop an atmosphere of longing, before the full song really kicks in. This is nine minutes of unadulterated brutality that hits the listener like a freight train and crushes them flat. This song was the perfect way to close off this album, leaving on a high note, in the same way that the little instrumental piece introduced the album. Cryptic Winterstorms also utilizes acoustic guitars in its introduction, serving as the best possible method to open up this song.
Abbath's vocals on this album are extremely good, with Unholy Forces Of Evil using multi-tracking at times, and Blacker The Darkness being completely insane. His vocals on here are the most unintelligible vocals he has ever done and also not even close to his best work. However, they are really powerful, and it is impossible to imagine Immortal without Abbath as the front man. He screams and shrieks his way through the grim and frostbitten tales the band came up with, providing the best voice for the band out there.
The instrumentals are standard early black metal affairs for the most part, with highly distorted flurries of tremolo picked riffs and crazily fast drumming. This is the only album with Armagedda on drums, with Abbath having handled the drumming on many of their other albums, and the difference in quality is clear from listening. However, they are solid enough for the band's debut album, and are more than competent. The riff during and following the solo to Cryptic Winterstorms is the most memorable of the bunch, but the guitar work is, for the most part, forgettable, being too samey throughout. Cryptic Winterstorms is, generally speaking, about as good as it gets instrumentally for this album, with some of the riffs being slightly better crafted. The acoustics that close off this song could probably not have come at a better time.
The production for this album really is not very friendly in favor of the drums nor the soloing, both of which are almost buried under the mix. The drums are extremely quiet, so those listening through rubbish earphones or their laptop speakers must expect to be disappointed. This is a very low-fi production job, with everything mashing together to form a wall of sound, other than Abbath's vocals, which are dominating over the top of everything else. The bass is just about audible for the most part, and sounds nice enough, but the production truly is the one crippling factor of this. There is a fuzzy sound that is integrated with the rest of the music to the point where everything comes off sounding blurred and mashed together. Admittedly, it is on par with many other black metal releases, but this is still enough of a down side to make a massive impact on peoples judgement, especially when stacked up against what would come later.
This album is nothing remarkable, being pretty much a standard black metal affair, with every member of the band putting in their absolute worst performance on this album. For better releases, check out either Battles In The North, the much faster Pure Holocaust, or Sons Of Northern Darkness. However, this is still a very much listenable album, just do not expect anything too special.
The cover art to early Norwegian black metal albums say so much about the music within. Immortal’s debut Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism is perfect example of this; the cover is obscure and esoteric. There is a voyeuristic aura, as if we’re spying in on some dark, secretive ritual. The figures are kept anonymous through the brightness of the flame and the darkness of the shadows. What a contrast to the next three Immortal albums, all of which contain straight-forward mugshots of the band members as they make the grimmest and most macho faces possible!
The difference in the album covers encapsulates what distinguishes Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism from the three records that follow it. In contrast to the dominating, chaotic, full frontal attack of the next three recordings, Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism is an unsettling and mysterious experience. Despite the difference in mood, Immortal’s capacity to create an environment is already evident. In the same way that albums like Battles in the North make you feel like you’re stuck on the tundra in the middle of a blizzard, Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism feels like being lost deep in the woods late at night.
This is a much more low-fi manifestation of Immortal. This recording is fairly raw, with the guitars having a somewhat muddy tone; while they could use a little more edge, they still have sufficient clarity. The riffs express haunting inflections of sorrow, depression and fear. The bass is solid, clear and bouncy. The vocals are wild and uninhibited, leading to Abbath’s best vocal performance. In contrast to the somewhat mechanical tone he has on most albums, here he sounds like a wild mountain lion hissing and snarling at its prey. There are also numerous moments of watery acoustic guitar, whose gentle melodies are pretty, yet devious, as if some dark secret lies behind the soft tones.
The songwriting is quite varied, with most of the songs traveling through a variety of riffs and tempos. “Cryptic Winterstorms” does an excellent job of interweaving plucked acoustic guitar into a harsh black metal landscape. “A Perfect Vision of the Rising Northland” is one of the most riveting songs in the entire Immortal discography. After beginning with somber acoustics, it travels through long stretches of strained and anxious riffs, all building toward an absolutely spine-tingling keyboard crescendo, which combined with Abbath’s tortured cries is simultaneously terrifying and beautiful. It’s as if the ritual has reached its climax; you stand there in awe as a portal to an alternate dimension opens before you. Simply brilliant.
Though Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism the only album Immortal released in this darker, rawer style, it still managed to leave quite an impact. Numerous stylistic dimensions of this album were picked up by other bands in the Norwegian scene (most notably Satyricon, whose debut is quite similar): the gentile acoustic passages, the cathedrals of synths and the woodsy aesthetic. Furthermore, Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism is the best showcase for Immortal’s songwriting skills. The next few albums are focused more on purity of concept and expression and thus employ relatively uniform song structures. Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism demonstrates that Immortal’s skills are more diverse and dynamic than many might expect. Ultimately, this is one of the better and more unique moments in Immortal’s discography.
(Originally written for http://deinos-logos.blogspot.com)
There is something of an odd paradox in the notion of true metal, which is probably the most noticeable within the small circle of bands that started the 2nd wave of black metal in the frigid hills of Norway. This notion of trueness suggests a form of parochialism, in which there is little room for augmentation or variation of a given style. The irony comes into play the minute that all of the pioneering albums that were put together between 1991 and 1994 are taken into account. Say what you will about the common ground that they all shared in their production approach, the stylistic directions that Darkthrone, Mayhem, Gorgoroth, Emperor, Enslaved, Burzum and this brief early era of Immortal were taking are noted for their radically different approaches in songwriting, to speak nothing for the bands that came about in Sweden, Finland, and a few other places around the same time. Basically, though all were going for a raw and low-fidelity answer to the growing trend of slickness and other pop culture trappings, their respective credentials as true Black Metal adherents did not imply a collection of identical Bathory and Celtic Frost worshippers.
Having established that, it is noteworthy to recognize that most of these pioneers did, to a large degree, emulate many 1st wave bands in order to reassert the roots of the style. In this respect, Immortal’s debut album “Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism” draws heavily from Celtic Frost, to an even greater degree than Darkthrone was doing on their early black metal releases. It shares a sense of looseness and variation that is fairly comparable to “A Blaze In The Northern Sky”, though it draws a bit more from Mayhem proto-blackened thrash style than from the remnants of epic death metal that was still present in Darkthrones riff construction approach at that time. Blast beats are used sparingly throughout the entire listen, in stark contrast to most of this band’s later releases, and the resulting character is something more reliant on atmosphere and sound coloring rather than pure aggression. Acoustic guitar passages, something not terribly common at this point in black metal’s development, are employed at various points to further elaborate upon an intricate mixture of styles. Most of the time it resembles the brief arpeggio sections typical to Mercyful Fate/early King Diamond, though some of the passages on the epic closer “A Perfect Vision Of The Rising Northland” have a folk-like character.
The rawness that is alluded to by those familiar with this album should not be mistaken for the unfettered frost coated rage heard on later releases by this outfit, but more as an explanation of the distant and cold character exhibited by the production. The vocals sound like their being sung from the tallest tower of some lone castle in the midst of a raging blizzard to a lower one 50 meters away, distorted by the perpetually raging wind and hoarse from continued exposure to the cold. The guitars and bass also exhibit this sense of distance, while the drums also sound far away, though a good bit closer and louder. Ultimately what results is something that is not fuzz driven as what Darkthrone did circa 1992-93, but retains that same quality of grimness and woefulness nonetheless. The riffs that come out of the mix tend to resemble the thrashy sort heard out of early Sodom and Kreator, though also exhibit the earlier heavy/speed metal characteristic sound that Celtic Frost brought forth in their early days nearly as often. Keyboards are employed very sparsely, most notably on the closing song, and add a slight degree of minimalism and sadness similar to Burzum’s work at the time.
The greatest revelation to emerge from this impressive collection of compositions is the contradiction it brings with the modern black metal notion that technical prowess at the guitar is considered untrue and that solos are to be avoided if possible, if not considered taboo altogether. Nearly every song on here has some sort of noticeable lead break, largely emulating the jagged and improvisatory nature of early proto-thrash and 1st wave black metal outfits, rather than the polished feats of melodic technicality that characterized 80s heavy metal shredders and later technically oriented progressive and death metal bands. Demonaz’s lead playing, and also his riff work, pretty handedly outclasses Euronymous’ studio efforts, though I’d say that Nocturno Culto has a slight technical edge on him. Granted, it could also be pointed out the absent Euronymous’ influence neither of his two technical betters would write music as they have done since, and that the spirit of a movement is an essential component of creating worthwhile music.
Taking into account how radically Immortal’s music has changed since this rather unique and brilliant slab of snow steeped darkness, it is difficult to fully justify why this is the best of their offerings, except to say that what one looks for in black metal plays a big role. If one views it as battle anthems for stalwart Norsemen or some other Indo-European hero archetype, obviously the catchiness of “Blizzard Beasts” or the all out raging chaos of “Battles In The North” would be preferred to this. But to me, this music carries the greatest charm when it invokes images of dark sorcerers and warlocks conjuring spirits and performing forbidden rituals in abandoned heathen castles and other stone structures, and that is precisely what is going on here. This music doesn’t bludgeon or mutilate, but instead schemes, plots, and bides its time until the right moment to slay the enemy. Perhaps in this age of modern black metal we have no room for mysticism and incantations, or perhaps that is exactly the reason why there seems to be a lot of good stuff, but no real amazing classics to speak of today in this style. Perhaps this album is more for one nostalgic for a different time in black metal’s history, but basically that is what I’ve come to be, and as such I recommend checking this out to become acquainted with one of the unsung classics in the early black metal revolution. Abandon all hope, ye who come forth into these frozen halls, for 3 kings of darkness await thee.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on January 23, 2009.
'Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism' is the first full-length from Norwegian Black Metal band Immortal. The album was recorded in Grieghallen Studios, around the same time as 'Det Som Engang Var', and produced by Pytten. The sound is very similar to that of early Burzum, due to similar production. There is a strong Bathory influence here, particularly from 'Blood Fire Death'. This is evident from the opening moments of the album. As with so many great bands, my first exposure to Immortal came from "The Haunted Mansion". One Winter night, I heard the song "The Sun No Longer Rises", from 'Pure Holocaust' and I wasted little time in acquiring that album. Some time later, while in Oslo, I picked up their debut L.P. and it wasn't long before I had a new favorite Immortal album. It was a close call, but songs like "Cryptic Winterstorms" left no doubt as to which album I preferred and it accompanied me on many late night drives through desolate areas. Often, I seemed to have the roads all to myself and had this album blasting as the cold winds blew in through the open window, blowing through my hair and freezing my fingers. Peaceful times... Abbath Doom Occulta, Demonaz Doom Occulta and Armagedda came together to create a very memorable album of grim Black Metal. While the following album usually tends to get the most praise, I feel that this one is an undeniable classic and should not be overlooked.
The album opens with a short intro that is very reminiscent of Bathory, especially with the sound of the winds and the accoustic guitar. Already, you can feel the icy hands of Winter taking hold.
"The Call of the Wintermoon" unleashes the fury from the north, as the fast tremolo riffs and blasting drums rage forth like an arctic storm. The riff is simple yet very effective. In no time, the tempo changes and Armagedda employs a very oldschool drumbeat, typical of 80s bands like Venom and Mercyful Fate. Abbath's screams are noticeably different than the severely grim croaking sound that he would utilize on the next album. I actually prefer this style as it seems more natural. There is a coldness created here as well as a sense of doom. The solo is very well done and I wish more Black Metal bands found ways to fit decent solos into their music. The song evokes imagery of being summoned by the full moon for battle in the cold Winter night.
"Unholy Forces of Evil" is next and begins with an oldschool style as well as Abbath's possessed vocals. Demonaz's guitar riffs have an sense of something ancient and produce images of old, forgotten tombs and battlefields littered with corpses long dead. The song features some very 80s-based riffs, throughout most of the song, but also some faster parts with the typical tremolo riffing of Norwegian Black Metal.
"Cryptic Winterstorms" begins with a cold, mournful accoustic guitar as the song begins. The song is midpaced and carries an epic feeling. The accoustic guitar appears again, throughout the song, and the main melody is very mournful. This song is reminiscent of Bathory and Burzum, without sounding too close to either one. This is, absolutely, my favorite Immortal song ever and is included on a mix tape I made for my car, somewhere between Darkthrone's "Paragon Belial" and Burzum's "Black Spell of Destruction". The solos are perfectly done and Abbath's vocals add a lot to the atmosphere. His screams could be described as very wild and animalistic as compared to later albums.
Following this epic materpiece is "Cold Winds of Funeral Dust". This song begins slowly and includes some thundering drums. This is pure oldschool Black Metal, and could have easily been released in 1989 or so. The pace is similar to something you would find on 'Blood Fire Death', yet there are enough harmonies layered on top of that that give it a distinct Norwegian sound. Abbath's vocals are evil as Hell, here. Near the end, the song speeds up to a furious pace, somewhat similar to something found on Gorgoroth's debut album, before fading out.
"Blacker Than Darkness" continues the album and starts with a midpaced riff. In a short time, the song speeds up to a thrashy pace that would not be out of place on 'The Return...' The riffs are very memorable, as every song in here possesses an identity of its own. There is no filler here.
The album ends with "A Perfect Vision of the Rising Northland". This epic song begins with a somber accoustic piece that leads into a very evil tremolo melody as the drums slowly build up and the song takes off at a pace quite like that of the title track from 'Blood Fire Death'. An intense spoken word part precedes Abbath's vocals, slowly appearing like some ghoul rising from a forbidden crypt. While Pure Holocaust is like a journey through the frozen lands of the North, 'Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism' seems to explore only the immediate area surrounding some lost Medieval castle, inhabited by spirits of pure evil, as they roam the surrounding forests and mountains, never straying too far. There is a sense of dread and melancholy in this song as it takes the listener on a long and dark journey. Late in the song, there is a slight bit of keyboard use, accompanying a spoken word part. It is done very well and only serves to add to the atmosphere as Abbath then screams:
"This Winter is forever!"
Indeed, that would be glorious... As the song continues, evil and yet sorrowful melodies inspire visions of another world where the sun freezes to dust. The same accoustic melody that began the song then returns to end the album. In a way, the title is very appropriate, as one gets the impression that only a brief vision was allowed and yet there is so much more. If only the barrier can be crossed...
As you know, Immortal used to play a raw form of death metal at the beginning of their career, immediately after Old Funeral disbanded. This raw death metal lasted for few years after and, with their first full length, they finally started to play a raw sort of metal, very Bathory influenced but already, finally black metal. This is the full length that opened the gates of hell to this great band and already in 1992, despite the audible influences, they were quite original too, filling the lyrics with plenty of north landscapes descriptions and the music with strange, cold melodies.
“The Call Of The Wintermoon” with the intro of whispered vocals and winds, is the very first important track by this group; a sort of a manifest of their early, primordial incarnation. The speed is at maximum through a raw form of up tempo, paying tribute, as I said, to Bathory but also to Hellhammer. The doom breaks and the cold solos are original, distorted but somehow so evocative and “Northern” in style. The Abbath's screams became immediately a trademark, especially in the following, obscure “Unholy Forces Of Evil”. A manifest of unbelievable coldness and anger.
The guitars distortion by the former Amputation guitarist, Demonaz, are something never heard before. They are fuzz, stormy in the distortion, probably brought by a high level of treble distortion in a guitar already down tuned in death metal style. Everything, drums too, sounds so primordial, ancient and covered by dust. The arpeggios on “Cryptic Winterstorms” are evocative and, united with the down tempo and apocalyptic lyrics, create a piece of burning hell.
Sometimes, anyway, the songs are not so precise and some wrong notes contribute in making this product even more enjoyable and pure in its entire black splendour. “Blacker Than Darkness” contains again screams from hell and a lethal, obscure guitar work. The tempos are a bit more “complex” and in some parts, thrasher with quite fast bass drums tempo. The final “A Perfect Vision Of The Rising Northland” is always able to give me strong emotions with the perfect mix of more apocalyptic sounds with epic ones but always obscure as hell…”This winter is forever…”.
To me, this is the very first homage to the North winter…a classic.
It is often said that people only have one chance to make a first impression. If this is true, then Immortal has little to worry about. Perhaps this is because this release is so powerful, or perhaps it is because Immortal seems to leave a new impression every time they release an album. While many bands require an album or two to “click” and find an appealing sound, Immortal comes out of the gate colder and darker than even the most clichéd black metal expression. Despite being regarded as a “novelty band” by some due to the obsessive focus on winter and coldness, Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism conveys an atmosphere of darkness that few other albums do.
The production is raw and unpolished, but not to the point where it is painful to the ears. Too many times I have cranked up my headphones and started up an album only to yank them out seconds later with the feeling that I just walked through a jet engine with a hangover. The guitars are muddy and produce an enjoyable wall of sound, but the pitch is kept reasonable and is never annoying. This album is an excellent example of guitars adding atmosphere without overpowering the final product. The riffs are also catchy and easily recognizable after a few listens, which makes this a good album for those just getting interested in black metal. Acoustic guitars are used sparingly, but when they are used they juxtapose significantly with the core of the album, heightening the experience of raw emotion. An example of this juxtaposition can be found in the song “A Perfect Vision of the Rising Northland.” The acoustic introduces the piece, which happens to be the longest song on the album, and gives a more majestic and epic feel to the song.
The vocals on this album are done by Immortal founder Abbath, and his voice fits the music perfectly. His voice is rough and mixes well with the music, and is not obnoxious or annoying. Personally Abbath is one of my favorite black metal vocalists, so I hope my personal preference does not cloud my judgment. His vocal work on “Blacker Than Darkness” is something truly special, and don’t be surprised to find yourself screaming along in your basement at 3 in the morning. While Abbath’s vocals remain constantly impressive throughout all of Immortal’s albums, Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism captures them at their rawest and most emotional, which is often the case on debut albums. One final thing to note regarding the vocal aspect of the album is the fact that Immortal does not focus on the religious aspect of black metal. Abbath has even stated in interviews that he “has his own beliefs, and other people have theirs” and leaves it at that. Don’t expect to find any “Fuck Christ!” themes on this album.
If you are sitting on the fence considering whether or not to buy or even listen to this album, go out and find it as soon as possible. The general consensus of the metal community is that Pure Holocaust is the pinnacle of Immortals creativity, but this album is definitely not something to pass over. None of Immortal’s albums sound alike, and it is worthwhile listening to all of their albums just to experience the musical evolution that takes place from traditional black metal, to thrash influenced black metal to the easily accessible music found on Sons of Northern Darkness.
I feel Immortal’s debut is many times unjustifiably overlooked and overshadowed by the band’s latter releases. What “Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism” loses to the three subsequent albums in speed, it makes up for in moods and atmosphere. This album features some great cold, dark and evil black metal played mostly at mid-tempo. The band also uses acoustic guitar on this album and it sounds great.
There are fast parts (but not blast parts) on “Call of the Wintermoon” and “Unholy Forces of Evil” but the other tracks have no fast parts at all. When listening to “Cryptic Winterstorms”, an awesome mid-tempo track tastefully spiced with acoustic guitar, you can almost feel the snowflakes falling around you. “Blacker than Darkness” is another highlight, bringing forth an angrier feel with some truly morbid riffing from Demonaz. “A Perfect Vision of the Rising Northland” finishes this album in a really great manner, this song is clearly influenced by Bathory.
There are some doomy and depressive passages on this song plus some acoustic guitar and freezing synths used with taste. If you’re not a fan of pure blasting black metal and haven’t heard “Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism” yet, I suggest you seek this out immediately. This album proves that Immortal are able to convey their message without playing fast all the time. You also get to experience that unique early 90s black metal feeling, which has almost disappeared from the scene of today.
On “Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism” you can also hear the bass well, which adds heaviness to the sound. Abbath’s vocal style on this album and the preceding EP also influenced Nergal from Behemoth to a great degree, just listen to Behemoth’s “From the Pagan Vastlands” and you’ll see what I mean.
This is Immortal's debut album from 1992 and features a more Bathory-like style as opposed to their later fast-as-fuck technical thrash-fest. Demonaz plays guitar on this album. He doesn't write as good a riff as Abbath but he really nails the Quorthon sound. Production is a minimum and has that old Norwegian raw black metal sound. Much like all of Immortal's albums there is not a bad track to be found. Some songs are obviously better than others.
The Call of the Wintermoon and Cryptic Winterstorms feature some icy-cold riffing and nice vicious blastbeats courtesy of Armagedda. Immortal were yet to write songs about their mystical world of Blashyrkh and most of these songs have a strong Satanic vibe. A Perfect Vision of the Rising Northland is the epic closer of the album and stands as one of Immortal's greatest songs. Acoustic guitar plays a big part in this song and has the best riffs found on the album.
Immortal would release better albums but this debut is without a doubt a mandatory purchase if you like Immortal or old-school black metal.
Before the freezing riffs, before the harsher, icy vocals and before the winter stormed blast beats that make up the Immortal that we know and love today, came this raw, unpolished slab of pure old-school Black Metal blasphemy. You like old Bathory? Hellhammer? Yes? Then this will be something you’ll really dig. It does differ much from what Immortal is commonly known for, particularly in the musical sense. If you’ve heard the band’s later works like At The Heart Of Winter or Sons Of Northern Darkness, this particular album differs greatly from those releases. This is rawer, more straight forward, darker (though not as “cold” in atmosphere), and sounds more like an ode to the classic extreme Metal pioneers from the 80s than anything else. An album such as this can be best compared to Darkthrone’s A Blaze In The Northern Sky, meaning that it sounds primative and raw to the fucking bone, yet, there is enough musicianship present to create an amazing atmosphere for the listener. Yeah, what else would you expect with titles like Cryptic Winterstorms and Cold Winds Of Funeral Dust?
Hell, even the bombastic, highly praised albums such as Pure Holocaust and Battles In The North differ much from this release. Why? The vocals don’t shriek highly over the instruments as they do on the later Immortal albums, meaning that the cold atmosphere on this album may be lost. Instead, the vox is nothing more than a raspy growl that isn’t too far off from what the classic Death Metal bands were doing around that time, such as Morbid Angel and Infernal Majesty. The guitars themselves contain an 80s Black Metal vibe to them, much like early Darkthrone and Mayhem as well. Armagedda’s drumming is quite thrashy, though minimal to the point where it will pale in comparison to the drumming from the albums that Abbath and Horde played on.
I mean, overall you can easily tell that Immortal took their musical influences onto another level with this one, as moments of Bathory’s first three albums shine all through-out on this release. Although no band in this style can come close to the musical quality of Bathory’s early material, Immortal proves that they can create their own unique style using their influences, without coming off as a complete rip-off.
1. Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism - Few intros rarely play an essential part in a non-concept album, though there those other few such as this one, that set the mood so perfectly without being complexed or instrumentally mind-blowing. Acoustic guitars, freezing winds, and diabolical echoes in the background set the mood well for what’s to come…
2. Call Of The Wintermoon - This song blasts over the listener out of nowhere like a blizzard storm! Armagedda’s minimalistic, thrashy drumming pounds away under the searing wave of guitar riffs, followed by Abbath’s demonic, harsh screams. The double bass soon kicks in and it’s a head banging frenzy from then on. The song carries on through many pace changes, both in the riffs and in the drumming, but this occurs all through out the album as well. Definitely one of Immortal’s greater songs.
WARNING: Watch this music video at your own risk...
3. Unholy Forces Of Evil - Some thrashy, mid paced beats kick this beast of a tune off, and then we’re hit with a…”Wowowowoww!!” from Abbath. Yeah, gotta love that scream! Soon, the pace shifts again, carrying on with a catchier riff, through out the rest of the song. You know those rockish riffs that a lot of 80s Metal bands fused into their aggressive music? Well, that's basically what Immortal did here. The blast beats are soon to come though, which are some of the most vicious on this album.
4. Cryptic Winterstorms - A melodic, acoustic guitar opens this tune up, setting a perfect mood of mysticism or melancholy on the listener. The song itself though, isn’t as ferocious as the song title suggests. It’s a slower, mid-paced number backed up by melodic acoustics for additional atmosphere to the music. So unlike the previous tracks, you won’t find any headbangable riffs or rhythms in this song, but in no means is this a boring number either. In fact, it’s one of my favorites on the album.
5. The Cold Winds Of Funeral Dust - Wow, do these riffs kick ass or what?! Now just like the previous tune, this song holds almost nothing to headbang like crazy too, but these riffs do deliver some major punch to them! If you enjoy mid-paced, war-march styled Black Metal, then this is another song you’ll love as well, though towards the end, you’d better prepare to get that neck snapping!
6. Blacker Than Darkness - This song starts out pretty slow or mid-paced in the vein of the two previous tracks, though in no time, it builds up to an amazing, thrashing rhythm that would make Quorthon of Bathory proud! Now this isn’t as fast as Call Of The Wintermoon, but the rhythm here is definitely fast enough to headbang to. A lot like the previous song, some of the riffs here are just purely fantastic.
7. A Perfect Vision Of The Rising Northland - What an epic! Spanning over 9 minutes long, this is the PERFECT way to end off an album such as this. Too bad the band doesn’t play this tune live, because you know what? It would absolutely slay! There’s a high usage of acoustics in this song as well, such as the opening intro, the middle and the ending segments. The other parts are entirely epic sounding and mid-paced, throwing in the use of keyboards for additional mood and atmosphere. As much as Immortal can spew out freezing, frostbiting Metal monsters at 500 mph, they can also put their entire skills to work and create amazing epics like these, using long, strung-out guitar riffs, steady drum beats, keyboards when they’re needed and melodic acoustics to take the listener into another world. Blood Fire Death this is not, but it's by far one of Immortal's greatest songs.
An overlooked album by many fans of the band. Why? I have no idea, but this one seems to get the least attention from many Metalheads or even many Immortal fans. It may not be their most unique album, but it’s certainly one of the best in my opinion. Sure beats Battles In The North and Blizzard Beasts, that’s for sure!
Immortal is one of the best known black metal bands out there, and this album surely displays some classic black metal and is not a disappointment for real black metal fans. This is raw and I'll say it right here that the production even considering that this was recorded around 13 years ago is downright HORRIBLE! But the music is still very good nonetheless.
Here we have moments when the drums are furiously fast. A classic example of that is the first minute or so of "The Call of the Wintermoon". It amazes me everytime I listen to that section as I wonder how its possible to beat the drums so damn fast and hit every note correctly. Some other great things about the album is that it sounds so very raw and dark. Almost throughout the whole duration of this album you almost feel like you are lost in the middle of Norway on a freezing and snowy night. Immortal mentions snow and cold a lot in their lyrics and it is kind of their theme and they certainly let you feel it not only hear it from the words of the lyrics. I also like Abbath's vocals here. His screams while not the best I've heard are definately good and his growling is decent too although I would have liked to hear it better as the instruments seemed to drown the vocals out. You can't hear them too well, but even if you did you likely wouldn't be able to understand them.
I also like the acoustic pieces on this album and for what is probably the first time in my life I wish there were more. They go in very well with a cold, dark, and snowy setting and sound very nice and almost mystifying. And the last good thing I wish to add to this is the little solos that are present here. I love them. They are screechy, long, and somewhat melodic. Not as screechy so that you feel like someone is scraping the blackboard or that you're listening to Pantera instead of Immortal, but enough to add more feeling to the evil and somewhat to the melody.
Some complaints I have about this album is that it feels very repetitive. For example, the beginnings of "Cold Winter of Funeral Dust" and "Blacker Than Darkness" are almost identical except "Blacker Than Darkness" doesn't sound as raw. Most of the album has similar riffs and melodies. It almost sounds as if you're listening to the same song. While I still like the album and the overall melodies I would have liked for at least some variation. And of course, the main bug, they should have had some better production. It is simply horrid and the only positive thing to come out of it is that it makes the album sound even more raw. But a little production at times doesn't hurt.
Anyway this album is a very good one, especially since this was the band's debut, and its a shame they had to split up. Every fan of black metal should own this.
Immortal's "Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism" may be the "lost" album in the bands rather well-known catalog but it rates as my personal favorite. Unlike the rather annoying well-riffed but sloppily composed later efforts this CD's shines by showing strong SONGS that work has cohesive units instead of riff-fests that go nowhere fast. Sure, it's not as imposing in terms of production or technical as the later Immortal - but the song is king here and that is what is most important.
Classic tracks like "Unholy Forces of Evil" and "Cryptic Winterstorms" swirl and slam along with a rather amusing lyrical grind that meshes a rather open satanic vibe with what would become their rather amusing "ice and snow" style lyrics later on. The Bathory-like slam and gong-banging is all just too evil in that "underground in analog" sort of way. Each song is thought out according to build and structure which delivers the telling of it's story perfectly. Demonaz really brings the raw and biting goods on the guitar...it's quite sad he had to go due to health, as he understood the Bathory feel more than many.
Immortal became black metals biggest band for sure...and this record is now forgotten as their "rough opening moments" but to me it's the classiest release they ever put together. There is certainly something truly youthful and exciting about the whole affair and it's more fun and more organized that most of everything they put out in their later years.
I suggest this for all funs of underground black metal...
I guess that Immortal are just one of those bands that are sort of responsible for the dissolution (at least in general perception) of black metal into something less than serious, but I can't help but highly enjoy them, with the exceptions of their "At the Heart of Winter" and "Damned in Black" albums, which, although not really bad by any stretch, just don't conjure up the right feeling as far as I'm concerned. Anyway, this album is from back in 1992, and is one of the original classics of the norwegian scene along with Darkthrone's second and third albums, and the early Burzum recordings. This might be my favourite immortal album, although sometimes I think I prefer "pure Holocaust", because it isn't terribly concerned with being the fastest thing around, nor does it sound overproduced and crisp. In fact, the sound is kind of roomy and cheap, and I'm sure they spent as little cash as possible on the sound, but it's clearly still a studio job and I do think it's the best sound this band has ever achieved. First off, everything is clear...rather distant and muffled, but clear..the drum sound is huge and cavernous, which I really love, and the vocals are just a hell of a lot eerier than they would ever be on future recordings, being rather inhuman howls of winter-spawned mirth and unholy glee, whatever the hell that means (yeah, I must have come up with that under the influence of Blashyrk himself). Guitars are pretty distinct, though the fast parts do sound a little muddy..most of this album is done at a loping, medium pace though, so this works fine and in fact sounds bloody great. Every song on here is a metal anthem, but I give particular note to "A Perfect Vision of the Rising Northland", "Blacker than Darkness" and "Unholy Forces of Evil". All have that same, march-like tempo, and ocasionally make use of acoustic guitar and even the very ocasional keyboard flourish. The drumming on the album isn't overly technical or adventurous, but the rolling, deep tom fills are absolutely magnificent, adding a really powerful apocalyptic groove to the whole affair. Hell, even Abbath's strange vocal ululations of "wow...oowoowowww!" sound great for some reason.
This review is slightly lame, but I'm hoping people will read it and realize how great this first album is and not discount it as another throw-away second wave Norse BM release. Sure, it's nothing vastly original...in fact it's very obviously influenced by the epic moments on Bathory's "Blood, Fire, Death"....but this still manages to convey a unique aura and mystique that you won't find on any other album, though it's difficult to pinpoint exactly what that feeling might be...maybe an air of mystery and an odd, triumphant order to the workings of chaos? Who knows. Immortal would not trod on this path again though...the closest they would come probably is the slower, more recent material, and because of the sound and very different playing style, they wouldn't nearly be able to (nor would they want to, I expect) duplicate or surpass the atmosphere on this first outing.
I'll be honest. This release is good, but not THAT good. Sure it is atmospheric and has lots of great screams, but the guitar is buried in a fury of fuzz, and the drums sound thin. The bass is inaudible as well, but that is not uncommon in BM. It is epic though, which gives it a higher rating.
Abbath's vocals are good on this, but a little in the background, and the drums stand too far out to me. As I said before, the guitar is just a low buzz. Demonaz does some solos here and there, which are usually fast and unstructured sounding. There are even some acoustic guitars on here, which add to the atmosphere greatly. This album has more of a pagan feel than anything to me.
IMO the best song on here is A Perfect Visions of the Rising Northland. It is very epic and has a ton of atmosphere. Abbath does a stellar vocal job on this one.
Of course the cover picture is the usual cheesy Immortal covers that we all know and love (hate?), but it is a bit more interesting on this one. Abbath flamming on the front is cool, and the ancient ruins are as well an interesting setting.
Is it just me, or does Armaggeda look totally out of place on the back cover? He seriously looks like he belongs in some hair band. But enough nitpicking. Other than all the minor flaws I have pointed out, this is actually a good debut. It has the most atmosphere of any Immortal album after it, and it should be played in the middle of a snowy night for the greatest effect.
Sometimes the music sounds a little sloppy, but overall this is a good debut release and it should be in every Immortal fans collection.