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Okay. I'm going to get pissed on for writing a review not hailing one of the black metal greats ... but I'm going to do it, regardless. First, allow me to state: I like Immortal, they are ... good. Not great, not spectacular, not Godly.
From my gathering, this is one of their landmark albums. To me, that only makes them worse. There's a number of reasons ... and, by no means am I saying this album is terrible or anything, because it is good. It's one of the better true black metal releases I've heard.
Let me also state, that where I do understand what black metal is supposed to be about - I do not fully agree with it. If you'll notice, that's why I've stayed away from reviewing black metal. But hear I go ...
Normally, I comment about the production. The production on this CD, for the style - is very good. Actually, for the style (and for this style only) I'd almost say it's perfect. The guitars sound gritty and raw ... the drums sound ... eh ... the drums are there ... the vocals are fair, a bit too loud at times, though.
The vocals however do bother me. I prefer the vocals on Sons Of Northern Darkness, simply because there's not that sound of gurgling, high pitch eh ... I wouldn't even call them screams, technically. But, his voice is very fucking dark.
But, about the songs themselves - they're structured very well, and are evil as Hell. There are a couple songs when the riffs are stretched out like rubber bands, though. The Sun No Longer Rises, for example. Overall, the songs do perfectly well, in getting their bleak, post-Armageddon, grim sound across.
Here's where I completely disagree with most every other fan of black metal, Immortal, and this CD in particular, though. The drumming.
I can't even sugar-coat this - the drumming sucks. There's generally two intentional styles in metal drumming - tight, and sloppy. This falls under neither. He will seem to play "sloppy" at times to the casual or unknowing listener - but, that is simply not the case. There's a bunch of unintentional tempo changes, and even some missed beats - and think you what you want, but to me, that does not add to "darkness", or "grimness" or anything. Perhaps this is one reason I don't listen to much black metal. Furthermore, the drums can sound very drone-like and repetitive - and yes, I understand that it's uncool in the black metal community to do "fancy", "complex" or "showy" drumming, but ... that's what I like to hear - though, that's not even what I'm asking for ... the earlier was more of my problem though (tempo changes. etc.)
And I'm sure everyone will try to take a shit on me for this, but really, out of all the CDs I have, this is not something I would be quick to go to ... really, I'd prefer this as background music. Though it is good. I would really prefer bands like Blut Aus Nord or Slagmark, being more abstract, and a bit more technical (or much more technical in the case of Slagmark) ... or even Bathory, has more depth, on the middle releases. (Twilight of the Gods, etc.)
Closing thought: It's good, true black metal. You want great, seek out Slagmark, or Blut Aus Nord. (And don't take a shit on me for this review.)