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A minimalistic approach makes for a boring debut - 49%

psychosisholocausto, February 13th, 2013

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.