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does the title include the band themselves - 16%

Noktorn, June 8th, 2011

Now, I could easily make the "How'd the Immortal logo get on the next I album" jokes here, but honestly I can't find anything funny about how one of the titans of black metal decided to take a shit on their own legacy with the most pathetic, inconsequential, useless album they've ever released. I can't say I was exactly hyped when I heard Immortal was getting back together- 'Sons of Northern Darkness' was a lot of fun for what it was, but continuing down that path would lead to bad things. 'Between Two Worlds' was that bad thing. So what happens when Immortal completely gives up and just releases another I album under the Immortal name? Complete and utter disaster, for one, but oddly enough a disaster that's somehow tricked most of the metal scene into believing the hype. Frankly I can't understand how, but I can't with most of the things the metal scene likes anyway.

First things first: this isn't black metal. No, this isn't particularly material to whether the album is good or not, but I feel it needs to be clarified. This might have some (not even a lot) of the established tropes of black metal: raspy vocals, (very occasional) tremolo riffs, (very occasional) blast beats, but in actuality this is much closer to Amon Amarth than black metal, who in and of themselves are much closer to rock music than extreme metal in the first place. So, in short, what 'All Shall Fall' really is at the basest level is a rock album. Again- not necessarily indicative of whether it's good or not. The problem is when Immortal try to make 'Sons of Northern Darkness'-style metal out of rock music- it just doesn't work. The resulting album is completely vapid, tedious, and turgid beyond all fucking belief, and sitting through a single play of it feels like an eternity.

A lot of people describe newer Immortal and this album in particular as Bathory-worship, but this is kind of bullshit just because Bathory was never this boring and cliche-ridden. 'All Shall Fall' is basically composed of nothing but the slowest, cheesiest moments off of 'Sons of Northern Darkness', sans the very strong riffcraft and consistent pace. Remember those combinations of '70s heavy metal crunch chords and pseudo-black arpeggios that dotted the slower tracks of 'Sons of Northern Darkness'? 'All Shall Fall' is basically an album composed of nothing but them, but where the slow, epic tracks of the previous album were tolerable because they had variety, 'All Shall Fall' is an album which has no problem stretching out three or four simple riffs for six or more minutes per track. The effect is excruciating and mind-numbing; the first time I heard the opening cut, I literally could not believe how little was going on. Moreover, most of the tracks sound almost identical, because Immortal these days operates at one tempo, with one rhythm, and one melodic idea most of the time. There's absolutely no personality to any of these songs because they're just rock songs in black metal drag, all obeying the same basic rules and not evidencing any sort of creativity at all.

Oh, but let's not forget the occasional blast beats and 'extremity' Immortal will sometimes inject in case you forgot who you were listening to on your way to vomit! Yeah, they're sprinkled around very sparingly, as though they have some sort of saffron-like price to them where the lurching, snore-inducing rock passages are free. Unsurprisingly, when surrounded by boring, slow to midpaced passages, these moments are robbed of all their intensity. No longer does it sound like there's any actual ENERGY behind the blasting- it all sounds lazy, especially because Abbath doesn't even bother to write real tremolo riffs anymore. None of the tremolo riffs, which I guess are as black metal as this album gets, actually SOUND like tremolo riffs: they sound like rock melodies turned into tremolo riffs. Even the fastest parts of this music have no sense of speed behind them because the song structures on this album have no dynamics- there's no importance given to the fast parts, so they come off as just as boring and uninspired as the rest of it.

There's about a hundred other things wrong with this album- Abbath's laughably weak vocal performance, the bad drum production, the sheer, torturous length of the songs- but I feel vaguely depressed writing about this album as much as I have already. I suppose this is all right, as usual, if you have no standards and are okay with listening to bad rock music dressed up in black metal drag, but to suggest, even if this appeals to you, that this is anything less than artistically bankrupt is as close to objectively incorrect as I could imagine in the field of music criticism. There is NOTHING here: no new ideas, no passion, no creativity, and no real metal spirit. Immortal's become a hollow shell of the band they used to be and the metal scene is bankrolling it out of feeble nostalgia. It's times like these I feel like I should just listen to indie rock and be done with it.