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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.