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Immortal rose from the ashes of an earlier death metal band, known as Amputation, back in 1990. For one reason or another, it was decided to start fresh despite having lost only one rather unimportant member. What some may not be aware of is that Immortal started out by continuing on the same musical path, playing their own form of death metal. It was sometime after this that Euronymous got Abbath into black metal, thus altering the course of Immortal's career (and quite likely saving them from becoming yet another forgotten band, among countless others that were playing the same style). Though they had just released their first demo in July, by October 1991 Immortal unleashed their first E.P. upon the world. This would mark the first Norwegian black metal release since Mayhem's Deathcrush, in 1987.
This E.P. only contains two songs, plus an intro. In this case, the intro is short enough and does a good job in establishing a dark and ominous tone. "Unholy Forces of Evil" is an interesting song, as it officially introduced the underground to the band's new sound. Abbath's vocals have changed from the very deep and guttural sound that was heard in Amputation, and on the first Immortal demo, to something much more raspy. His voice was very close to the way it would sound on Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism, but not completely. Much like Darkthrone would do, Immortal chose to recycle some of their death metal riffs, rather than taking the time to create entirely new songs. Perhaps, they were in a hurry to record something that reflected their change in outlook. "Unholy Forces of Evil" includes re-worked riffs from the earlier demo, most likely from the song "Suffocate the Masses" (though it is difficult to tell, since all of those tracks are so similar). For one reason or another, the atmosphere does not manage to match that of the later version. "The Cold Winds of Funeral Frost" has a bit more of an old school feeling, thanks in part to the percussion and the overall vibe of the songwriting. Like the previous song, it moves along at a rather relaxed pace, with some hints of a Bathory influence. Also, like the first track, it builds up to a more intense speed with blasting drums, near the end.
The production is not so much raw as it is kind of muddy. The guitar tone lacks the cold feel of Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism. As a result, the guitar riffs are not as sharp and tend to blend in with the rest of the instruments. In particular, the bass is too high in the mix and, combined with the lack of sharpness in the guitar tone, gives the music more of a warm feeling. As for the vocals, they also seem to blend in to the rest, to an extent. It could be due to the levels, just as much as the fact that Abbath's voice doesn't have the exact same edge to it that he would later develop. Little things like this, along with the more subtle nuances in execution on the full-length, make a big difference in the type of atmosphere that is present.
Immortal is definitely an interesting E.P. and is recommended for hardcore Immortal fans, though it is hardly essential for anyone else. Other than the intro, superior versions of these songs can be found on the band's debut full-length, so there is no real reason to go to any trouble in seeking this out. As a matter of fact, within the context of Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism, these aren't even the strongest songs on the record. This is the sort of record that was far more important when it was new, though losing its significance once they released their first L.P.
Immortal’s self-titled EP is the band’s first black metal recording. While it clearly displays Immortal’s promise, it also shows the groups greenness. Released about a year before Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism, it contains two early versions of songs from that album: “The Cold Wind of Funeral Frost” and “Unholy Forces of Evil”. (There's also a forgettable 40 second dark ambient intro). The songs are exactly the same in structure and arrangement, but here the production and atmosphere is far inferior.
While both songs sound good on the debut, here they sound a little cluttered and without edge. The recording lacks dynamism. For example, “Unholy Forces of Evil” is a composition full of interesting shifts in tempo and vacillations in intensity. Here, those shifts are understated. For example, the slow, dark bridge around the 1:45 mark is a startling moment on the full-length version. However, here it is barely sounds different from the passage that precedes it.
“The Cold Wind of Funeral Frost” is the weakest track on Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism. It involves the fewest number of twists and turns and its lead riff isn’t particularly memorable. Having an even weaker version of the track is something most Immortal followers can live without.
This EP was rendered irrelevant the moment Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism was released. The superior production and atmosphere on the full length make the second editions far more enjoyable. Furthermore, these two tracks, which are solid but unspectacular songs, accomplish more within the context of the full length album than they do standing on their own. There, they work as pivot points between larger, more epic tracks. Here they have trouble holding their own.
(Originally written for deinos-logos.blogspot.com)
There is one major complaint that I have about this EP, and that’s the fact that it’s too damn short! Featuring two of Immortal’s best songs in their rougher, rawer forms, I would have loved to have heard more. As you probably already know, both tracks are from Immortal’s debut LP, Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism. While the album versions are in no way sub standard material, they just don’t compare to the kind of atmosphere that the tracks on this EP give off. Even the intro is far superior!
Beginning as a typical Death Metal outfit, it’s hard to believe that just one year later, the band would rise up with something like this. The music is even more primitive than that of the previous demo, yet less brutal. Yet, it’s cold and harsh in every sense of the term. This is pure Black Metal here. Abbath has traded in his guttural growls for higher pitched, raspy approach. And in my opinion, the production is perfect. Lots of reverb on the vocals and snare drum, delivering an even darker affect to the aura of the music. Cold Winds Of Funeral Frost (renamed ...Funeral Dust on the album) is the better of the two tracks here. While Unholy Forces Of Evil is almost every bit as good, Cold Winds takes the bait here. The vocals sound totally sick and the ambience of the song is built on pure darkness. The loud, background booms (sounding a little like a gong) are a great affect too. This is by far one of Immortal’s best songs, whether it’s this version or the album version.
Immortal’s first full length album, released just one year after this, would have sounded so perfect if the band had just left the tracks in their rougher form. I mean, that album itself is damn near perfect the way it is, but once you hear this little EP, you’ll be thinking somewhat differently of it too. Even if this EP is out of print by now, you can hear it on the limited edition of Battles In The North or the True Kings Of Norway split.