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Personally, I like Immortal and that's all - there is no love between us. They play nice music, though their image and style is more annoying than scary. But there is an album, which makes Immortal equal to the great BM classics. It is called "Pure Holocaust"...
I haven't heard "Battles in the North" yet (I saw only "Grim and Frostbitten Kingdom" and "Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark)" videos - really pathetic), so the evolution of Immortal is not clear for me. I see a big difference between "Pure Holocaust" and "Blizzard Beasts" (or every other later Immortal album). While the later releases are concentarted on heavy, death-metal-like riffs and the minimum use of bass, "Pure Holocaust" has got definitely different sound. Here you got riffs, which get totally messed with other sounds on the album, and the only guitar thing you would hear with no effort are those high sounds, reminding me Swedish BM style. On the other hand, you've got loud and clear drums. The vocals are less annoying than they are on the other releases, maybe beacuse of a light echo. The quality of production is bad, but it creates the atmosphere in a way...
...yeah, the atmosphere is what makes this album so great. Every song is set in the very cold, mysterious climate, more freezing than it will be in the times, when the lyrics will turn into the anthems of frost, battles and mountains (cold, mountains, wind, battle, wind, winter, mountains, frost, battle and so on - annoying, isn't it?). Here, the lyrics are more standard - the themes of holocaust, hordes, cemetery and so on.
However, this would be nothing if the songs were not interesting. Here, you've got eight tracks, which vary form great to genious. Great riffs (you just have to listen carefully), various tempo, even guitar solos - it all makes this album really various, but set in one style, one climate. If you start listening, you won't stop until the tape/cd stops.
You won't avoid listening to it, if you think you're a BM fan. Just classic and just genious.
the best: "Unsilent Storms in the North Abyss", "The Sun no Longer Rises", "Frozen by Icewinds", "As the Eternity Opens"