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Cold Lands of Battles and Demons - 90%

Amber Gray, September 18th, 2016

If there’s anyone who knows cold, it’s Immortal. Music sometimes has a feel of “coldness”. It’s raw, it’s atmospheric, it’s minimal. I don’t know if Immortal fit the bill for having the sound or more just the imagery and lyrics about ice, some kind of musical placebo effect. By the time this came out, they weren’t all that raw or all that minimal. This album is a showcase of talent, with more complex structures, riffs for days, and an ever changing tempo. From here on they’d act as a kind of technical/thrashy black metal band. “Withstand the Fall of Time” is the opener, and boy howdy does it set the tone. No dilly dallying here, right into the blastation. Immortal does the mid paced stuff really well, we see it slow down from their first albums, which I would actually considering a better example of cold music.

Anyway, the mid paced jams are incredible. Extremely catchy and always rather epic sounding. The guitar is the undisputed champion of the music. Immortal are a black metal band that pretty much always drop one of the best riffs you’ve heard. “Solarfall” starts of with the trudging. A really nice instrumental intro. It dips into a more atmospheric break and right back into this super riffing. Like I said, always dropping these badass riffs, and the one after the break is definitely no exception. Some clean guitar to aid the chug riff that comes up next. There is a heavy amount of “riding into battle” riffs, if you know what mean I use the term to describe these epic and galloping moments of genius.

“Tragedy Blows At the Horizon” is the the longest song, coming next. Once again right into the heavy groove riffs. I’ve never thought about Abbath as an awesome black metal vocalist, with his froggy croaks in the early days. With this album it’s a bit more harsh and extreme. Fun fact: Immortal started out playing straight death/thrash metal as Amputation. “Tragedy” brings the fast blasting back. Some more clean guitar in here too. It’s seriously one of my favorite things in music, double kick and midpaced drum beat.

Really though, the thrash influence so prevalent. Think about bands like Artillery and Coroner, for example. It’s a fairly progressive album in terms of the plethora of hard riffs and tempo changes. Clean breaks directly into a massive shift to brutality, and vice versa.

This album pretty much never lets up, we have no shortage of excellence. It’s a good album to recommend people getting into black metal. It’s definitely accessible and I’m sure they couldn’t resist these riffs, usually featuring tremolos and heavy and chords all day. and Also a very clean production sound to show off this mastery of sound.

One of my favorite moments comes from “Where Dark and Light Don’t Differ”, an amazing breakdown around three minutes, nine seconds. With this new style shift we don’t see Immortal dealing too much with speed, but when they do, it’s some of the best out there. The title track starts clean and slams right into a mega heavy riff, easily one of the heaviest songs on the album. Two years prior Demonaz got severe tendonitis (from playing so brutally fast, how about that?) My favorite Immortal album, a definite standout in their discography if not just for these riffs. Like I said, I’d recommend this to black metal newcomers. The thrash, the leads, the clean breaks, have it being a great introduction.