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Diabolical beginnings - 85%

Valleys_Of_Hades, December 2nd, 2005

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!