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Whilst standing amongst giants, it's easy to dissolve and diminish something that is equally as good, but simply holds its value in a different light. If you're lost, I'm talking about Immortal's, and in particular, Pure Holocaust's place amongst the big Norwegien baddies of black metal. Mayhem's Deathcrush, and subsequent releases might of established the norm for second wave black metal, and as Burzum developed the more dreary and simplistic vision of black metal they both held their own against Darkthrone's mighty Celtic Frost worship, and arguably one of the greatest metal albums ever, A Blaze in the Northern Sky. Beyond those three entities, along with the epitome of symphonic black metal (Emperor's In the Nightside Eclipse) the other "classics" of that era seem to fall to the wayside, albums like Pentagram, Vikingligr Veldi, Aspera Hiems Symfonia, Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitler,and In the Streams of Inferno. Each one of these albums is an amazing work of art, but for whatever reason has never caught the same praise that DMDS, ABINS, Transilvanian Hunger, or Filosofem has received, and it is no different for Immortal's Pure Holocaust.
It is true that Pure Holocaust lacks the same depth and atmosphere that is on Filosofem, and that people believe to present on Tansilvanian Hunger, and it doesn't contain any of the historical importance that any early Mayhem release carried, but that doesn't mean it is not quality music. If there's a knock to be made against Pure Holocaust it is its lack of atmosphere and the tendency for the tracks to run together, beyond that it is flawless.
Where A Blaze In the Northern Sky contained that Celtic Frost groove, and most other releases at the time (with the exception of blast happy Hellhammer Mayhem) were more tame when it came to speed and outright ferocity, Pure Holocaust captures a chilling and unmatched ferocity. The absolute whirlwind of blast beats and double bass amongst a flurry of tremolo picked riffs really do create a vibe of an unstoppable winter gust. Not to say Hat's vocals aren't ferocious, or Hellhammer couldn't keep up with Abbath (hahahaha), I'm simply saying Immortal's brand of black metal contained an inoffensive (no bewildering vocals: see early Burzum, Gorgoroth, or Attila/Maniac)but overwhelming vibe that made it accessible, enjoyable, as well as an excellent model as to how to do black metal right.
Demonaz writes some of the best black metal riffs ever for this album, the obvious one being the main riff to "The Sun No Longer Rises," which is mind blowing every time I hear it, and has been copied by none-other than our beloved Kanwulf of Nargaroth. Beyond that one outstanding riff, there's countless others "As The Eternity Opens, "Unsilent Storms In The North Abyss," "A Sign For The Norse Hordes To Ride..." well pretty much every song. Every song on the album has at least two brain splattering riffs, if not more. The awesome riff to song ratio alone makes this a great album.
Abbath's vocals are ideal, as well as typical for modern times. Venomous and throaty, I can't help but feel that Abbath had a very solid and often copied rasp. Abbath's signature sloppy, but solid drumming is fun to listen to and adds a level of personality, which would serve as a good contrast to how bad drum machines really are. I don't see how anyone can complain about his drumming, he's on time for the most part, and sometimes just doesn't maintain the same force, something triggers would hide, but luckily Abbath is an old school kind of guy about that junk.
To bash this album, and say it contains little; to nothing interesting is something that is far beyond my ability of thought. There are plenty of riffs that are catchy and kick ass, as well an overwhelming brutality of speed and destruction.
I find it funny to see how little Immortal imitation there is, everyone and thier mother has covered Burzum/Darkthrone/Mayhem, yet I don't know of one Immortal cover. I.C.E comes to mind as a tribute to Immortal, as well as Kanwulf's plagiarism on "Erik, May You Rape The Angels" (which might be some skewed tribute to Immortal, as well as the drummer, but it's the same goddamn riff except for like one note) and the countless bands that seemed to borrow Immortal's 'campy' lyrical style.
Pure Holocaust is a genre defining, as well as essential black metal album. As mentioned earlier, it might not carry the historical weight of some other releases, or the innovation of others, but it is a highly competent and enjoyable album that seems to have an unspoken and unobserved influence amongst countless black metal acts. Immortal were busy writing great riffs and constantly fine tuning themselves while some of the other Norwegian bands got caught up with the idea of a movement, and others in their own popularity. Immortal might have changed over time, but they've always retained their own flavour and have never compromised. With the exception of Enslaved and Ulver, Immortal's career is far more impressive then crap like Grand Declaration of War, Goatlord, Destroyer, any Burzum midi album, IX Equilibrium, there is no such thing as a bad Immortal release, some just a little less fulfilling than others.
Pure Holocaust is an immortal classic, and it should never be overlooked.