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Winter of the Ages - 80%

Iron Wizard, August 7th, 2017

Being very contrarian by my own nature, when I was exploring Immortal's discography a few years ago, I obviously gravitated to their least revered release, which could be argued as being either Blizzard Beasts or Damned in Black. Regardless, when I came across Blizzard Beasts, I felt like I had found some enhanced ability within myself to appreciate that masterpiece that was this album. About a year later, however, I bought Diabolical Fullmoom Mysticism and Pure Holocaust, two real masterpieces, and thus my appreciation for this record began to dissipate.

For some brief historical background, Blizzard Beasts was released when black metal in Norway had begun it's decline. Timing alone was enough to deprive it of the influential significance of its predecessor albums. Lineup wise, Horgh now sits behind the drums. Demonaz started developing tendonitis around this time, and it began to partially incapacitate him as far as guitar playing goes. Blizzard Beasts was the last Immortal album that he played guitar on, and even at that, Abbath had to back him up some here. Because of this, the album is carried with a new riffing style. The guitar parts here are very technical and performed at breakneck speed, in a quasi-thrash metal manner. There is some lingering death metal influence as well, though not to the extent of this being a blackened death metal album. The more insane and complex melodies of Battles in the North are even more present here, and the album lacks in most of the beautiful melodies found on Pure Holocaust.

One of the things that made Pure Holocaust and Battles in the North great albums was the drumming. Both Abbath and Demonaz made percussive contributions to those albums, and keeping in mind that drums were not their main instruments, their performance was impeccable. Here, Horgh focuses more on blasting as fast as possible. Technically, his abilities are insane. He's all over the place, and very fond of subtle intricacies, but on this album, he lacks personality. I don't think he's entirely to blame, however, as the way the drums were kicked kills them; some sounds are all but inaudible and the kit as a whole has a homogenous sound. The production really took a lot from Blizzard Beasts as a whole, though. The drums are high in the mixed, but heavily compressed, and it's pretty clear that the word "reverb" was not uttered once in the mixing room. The guitars sound washed out, almost as if they are underwater. The one thing I do like about the production here is that the vocals sound absolutely great. Abbath's screams are high pitched and have a very consistent rasp to them, and they way they were mixed allows them to cut like razors through the lucidity of the mix.

Some of the songs on Blizzard Beasts fall too far behind Immortal's high standards. Up until the epic "Mountains of Might", which is the album's obvious pinnacle, the songs run together. I am listening to the album as we speak, and I wouldn't be able to differentiate between "Suns that Sank Below" and "Battlefields" even if they were played again for me. The aforementioned "Mountains of Might" and "Winter of the Ages" are the two tracks that make names for themselves. The former has a very bleak and melodic sound to it, and it is somewhat of a prelude to the heights of At the Heart of Winter. "Winter of Ages" is a very technical and complex assault, and the main redeeming quality it has is the contrast between the torrential and melodic sections of the song.

For some reason, even though Blizzard Beasts is not necessarily that great of an album, I am tempted to say that it is a must-have. It's a very divisive release for sure, and I would suggest that you buy it as you will probably at least derive some enjoyment out of it.

The battle rages on - 85%

Acrobat, August 10th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1997, CD, Osmose Productions

While Immortal’s 1990s work is generally well-loved it often seems that this is the one that fell through the cracks. At worst, it gets written off as a folly before the band got their act together, started hiring a real producer and got a sensible drum sound (the cheek!) but even amongst its fans it tends to often be known as a “transitional piece” or “The Morbid Angel sounding one”. At any rate, I’d claim that Blizzard Beasts has an identity all of its own and it was another welcome addition to the band’s mercilessly strong 1990s winning streak.

First of all, there is the album’s production; Immortal were never ones to shy away from unusual production jobs (even within the uncanny realms of black metal). Compared to the album’s predecessors; Blizzard Beasts still seems like the oddest of the bunch due to its bizarre approach to drum production. Given the band’s later choices I’d guess that this was a cock up rather than an intentional choice to obscure the drums so. Nonetheless, what we’re left with is a strangely cymbal-less mix and a decidedly weak drum sound. Horgh was never the greatest drummer around – I’ve always preferred Abbath’s drumming despite the fact that you can tell that he’s not a ‘proper’ drummer – but usually he tends to be a bit more powerful than the somewhat papery weird drum sound here (it’s almost like he’s hooked on monkey phonics). This does have one considerable gain, however, as Demonaz dominates things sonically which makes it to be quite a fitting swansong for him as the band’s guitarist (at the time of writing, at least).

While I can see why people often prefer the band’s later albums with Abbath on guitar (or, at least, I can see why At the Heart of Winter and Sons of Northern Darkness tend to be so popular – I’m a fan of the ’99 album myself but I find the others to be too “Wacken metal”) but the Demonaz albums just have a massive edge on them to my ears at least. A large part of this is due to the Demonaz’s totally idiosyncratic guitar playing. Of course, this time around it’s clear that he’s even more influenced by Morbid Angel – although that sound was still present on Battles in the North - it’s still the bitterly cold attack that was present on previous albums (albeit a touch more melodic this time around).

Still, Immortal have never been about individual sounds and aspects. I’ve always felt that people complaining about the production (especially on, say, Bladders in the North or even this album) are missing the point. Immortal have always needed that freezing atmosphere and their 90s albums always managed to be more than the sum of their parts. While Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism felt comparatively warmer it seems to me that it was like the changing of the seasons when autumn’s muggy damp gives way to a darker, colder environ. At this point, then, Immortal were traversing the full blight of winter; what with its seemingly endless frost and stark, ripping winds. Tellingly, after that album Immortal went down a route that had less emphasis on individual tracks and offered more of a immersive feeling wherein albums where more experiences rather than just a collection of songs. That’s probably why a lot of people who aren’t acclimatised to black metal tend to say that there’s only one memorable song on both Battles… and Blizzard Beasts and obviously these are the ones that step outside of the established storm-wind fast pace.

Obviously, ‘Mountains of Might’ is the song that most people remember on this album. Honestly, that’s fair enough, seeing as it’s the best ‘new-style’ Immortal song ever written (albeit before newer Immortal). While it’s clear that to accustomed ears that all Immortal tends to be quite catchy and melodic this is certainly their most obvious ‘hit’. In my eyes, the rest of the album doesn’t live under its shadow, either. It’s certainly mostly cut from the same cloth – heavy winter grey and storming riffs that aren’t as ‘blurred’ as the previous two albums. Certainly, you can hear the ‘cutting’ nature of the riffs (Demonaz had definitely lent his ear to Trey Azagthoth’s picking patterns, although you won’t find any straight-up death metal riffs).

Honestly, I’m kind of at a loss as to why this is considered the ugly duckling of Immortal's discography. It even might generally held in lower regard than boring stuff like Damned in Black and horrible shite like All Shall Fall (an album that managed to spend all of two days in my collection). I can’t be so wrong-eared (I’d like to think I have heavy metal ears) so I’d say don’t neglect Blizzard Beasts.

Lost in a blizzard - 35%

Felix 1666, October 14th, 2015
Written based on this version: 1997, CD, Osmose Productions

Let me speak about Immortal. After the releases of "Pure Holocaust" and "Battles in the North", I thought that this band is the unbeatable flagship of Norwegian black metal. Of course, albums like "In the Nightside Eclipse" or "Frost" had also been outstanding. But Immortal's sheer franticness fascinated me most. From my point of view, they embodied the spirit of the new black metal movement. With regard to their fourth album, I could not imagine that something could go wrong. But Immortal showed in an impressive way that it does not take much to disappoint your followers in an unforeseeable manner.

Instead of scoring with straight tunes, the band wallowed in technical song structures that seemed to be inspired by the most complicated tracks of Morbid Angel. "Blizzard Beasts" had nothing in common with "Pure Holocaust", perhaps with the exception of the ridiculous playtime. In quantitative terms, the running time of less than 29 minutes was nothing else but an impertinence. But far worse was the absence of quality. No song can be described as thrilling, impressive or outstanding. Instead, an accurate description is based on terms such as "immature" or "inaccessible". Immortal rushed through the pieces hastily without rhyme or reason. Their childish endeavour was focused on showing the world their newly won techniques, but the here presented method did definitely not lead to coherent songs. The tracks suffered from a lack of compositional substance.

Aggravating this situation, the extremely compressed sound failed to create an intense atmosphere. Quite the contrary, it emphasized the feeling of listening to a hectic mishmash of shredded lines and senselessly tormented drums. Each and every composition appeared torn and half-baked. The previously demonstrated strengths of the band did not show up. Dramatic sequences as well as any kind of Northern grandeur were missing. The same applied for the previously fanatic ice-cold guitar lines that had "determination" written all over them. In order to stay fair, I will not hide from you that one song stood in sharp contrast to the craggy and confusingly technical elaborations. But to be honest, it appeared as a rather irritating foreign body. "Mountains of Might" tried to build a bridge to the glorious past of the band. The fairly tranquil piece wanted to be the worthy successor of "Blashyrk (Mighty Ravendark)". Unfortunately, it was only the crippled brother of the closer of "Battles in the North", a lame and lukewarm copy without an ounce of majestic greatness. This unexpected mediocrity left me speechless.

The nagging of the vocalist did not play a significant role. Everything was geared to the (deceptive) beauty of the technical twists and turns. Otherwise it would have been another grave shortcoming of the album, because the monotony of the vocals surpassed everything so far. Abbath sounded like a grumpy child that has lost its lolly. Perhaps I am small-minded, but his performance did not match with my idea of hateful and expressive black metal vocals. Anyway, the entire album did not work and made the halls of Blashyrkh crumble. Immortal had sacrificed their authenticity in order to appear more international. But the most important feature of the Norwegian wave had been its autonomy. Seen from this perspective, "Blizzard Beasts" was doomed to failure from the outset.

Needlessly weak. Immortal comes undone. - 43%

ConorFynes, August 29th, 2015

If you somehow enjoyed the piss-poor execution on Battles in the North, well, have I the album for you.

Immortal's distinctly tongue-in-cheek, but unironic approach to darkness in their music virtually put them in a much-imitated league of their own, but that's only one of many things that sets them apart. For one, their career has never fit a conventional arc of quality. Some bands will release all of their best material in the early stages of their career; for others, it takes a few records before their golden era hits. In either scenario, a Black Album phase inevitably comes somewhere along the line if a band's around long enough; the inspiration fades, and a band is relegated to echoing their former glory or, worse still, half-heartedly reinventing themselves in hopes of reigniting a dying flame. Press kits like to refer to that sort of garbage euphemistically as "going back to their roots", but it's not fooling anybody.

For Immortal, it's almost as if they explicitly decided to be lazy and shitty throughout the mid-90s. Their classic Pure Holocaust hits harder than any of the band's stupid memery even begins to suggest. By At the Heart of Winter in 1999, they were back to writing amazing material, albeit under a fairly different approach. So what happened in the interim? If Battles in the North was a half-baked shadow of Pure Holocaust, their fourth album Blizzard Beasts is even worse. Outside of Demonaz' growing issues with tendonitis (which ultimately caused this to be his final album with Immortal) I'm not sure what happened to turn these Second Wave wizards for a loop. Needless to say, I would have hoped for a lot more from the band, even from what is nigh-unmistakably their worst album ever.

After such a high-energy performance on Pure Holocaust, I still can't figure out why they approached Battles in the North so roughly. The production sounded like a demo tape (in a bad, bad way) and their performance sounded like they'd rushed through it in one take. The drums sounded like Abbath had suddenly remembered he left the stove on at home, and tried to hammer away his drum parts as hurriedly as possible so he could rush back and save his house from burning. Even the songwriting sounded fairly undercooked compared to their other stuff. Anyways, Blizzard Beasts is all of that, made a little bit worse. It's one of the few full-lengths I've ever heard (Reign in Blood's the only other that comes to mind) that doesn't even hit the half-hour mark. Not only is the material here disappointing; there's barely enough of it here to constitute calling Blizzard Beasts a real album to begin with.

Each time I've listened to the album, I get a strong impression that I'm listening to some demo tapes Immortal were still working on polishing up. A bad, vocal-heavy mix aside, the ingredients all sound rough, rushed and unpolished. Now, Immortal have had plenty of success with a lo-fi tinge to their art, but this album proves that raw productions are not created equally. Pure Holocaust sounded raw. Blizzard Beasts sounds amateurish. Considering how great Abbath and Demonaz had been together, there's no reason they should have been delving out such rough material this late into their careers. Had they not already perfected their execution two albums prior, I probably wouldn't feel so irked by the way this album sounds. But they did, so I am.

I'm of the mind Immortal's songwriting's at its best whenever they're working with longer track times; bigger compositions lend more space for atmosphere, and it might explain why At the Heart of Winter is one of the band's best. I liked some of the essential songwriting on Battles in the North, but with Blizzard Beasts, most of these tracks barely sound finished. 2-3 minute stretches with rushed, pseudo-thrashy riffs and overmixed croak-vokills seems bent on taking the fun out of listening to Immortal. Even the longer song "Mountains of Might" (which seems to get praise even from the album's other haters) seems out of place and awkward.

This was not a good time in the career of Immortal. Although two of the three Demonaz/Abbath albums fail to interest me, it's a shame Demonaz's health issues forced him to quit the band. Outside of all the true, frostbitten camp and the countless bands that followed their example, I've rarely heard a band (let alone two people) sound as intense as they did on Pure Holocaust. Unfortunately, you can really hear the way Demonaz was slowing down for this one. Blizzard Beasts is a further regression in their sound at a time where they should have still been riding the coattails of their second album. In the end, albums three and four are both major disappointments, but they're ultimately still Immortal, so you can still expect their fundamental strengths to some extent; good riffs and a solid spooky attitude chief amongst them. It's a shame Demonaz's career effectively ended here. He was one of the Second Wave's best guitarists, and for someone with his skilful touch, I would hope to have heard him say goodbye on a stronger note.

Demonaz does not go out with a bang at all - 37%

psychosisholocausto, February 13th, 2013

Immortal have been a remarkable consistent band over the course of their career, with even their weaker albums being above average, as Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism evidenced. However, there was one black mark on their career that they will never be able to erase, and this is their fourth full length release, Blizzard Beasts. Following two of their finest albums including the jaw dropping Pure Holocaust, Immortal released their first release that grows stale incredibly fast, which was also the final album with Demonaz on guitar, before he was forced to leave after being diagnosed with acute tendinitis, which stopped him from tremolo picking at the speed required for the band.

All of the traits established on their first three releases are at work on this album, with dark lyrics about cold winter kingdoms and insanely speedy guitar work and drumming, coupled with the screams of Abbath that still sound as though he has a blocked nose, continuing to fit the lyrical themes found on here. However, this album is lacking in any form of memorability whatsoever, be it in the speed department or in the individual songs as were found on Battles In The North. The songs themselves are bland and all blend together, being too short to incorporate any real memorability or sections that stick in the listeners head. The only song that deviates from this short and quick style is Mountains of Might which, despite its pathetic song title, manages to be the best on the album, clocking in at six minutes and thirty eight seconds, and having some clear progressive song structuring, with speeds changing occasionally and stylistically it occasionally switched into the more thrash-oriented black metal that would be experimented with more from the following album onward. Other than this song, there is no variation whatsoever, with all of the album feeling like one long tremolo picked, blast beating song, and it swiftly becomes too boring to describe.

The one good thing that can be said for this album is that Demonaz went out on a high, with his guitar work being both intense and a slight step up in quality from the past album. His riffs are a lot more technical here, but still maintain the blistering speed that the band has become known for over the many years they have been playing this style of music. In terms of his overall performance, Pure Holocaust and Battles In The North curb stomp this album, but the actual technical ability on display from Demonaz is his best performance. The soloing on here is fantastic, being incredibly quick and difficult to play, serving its purpose on this release really well, and being one thing the album deserves complimenting on. This album features a new drummer, Horgh, who is not quite as competent as Abbath had been on the past two releases, playing slightly slower, but still being good enough to carry the album forward at a ridiculous pace. Abbath takes the bass guitar duties, and handles them well, with his piercing shrieks of anguish being as great as they were on the past two releases.

The production on this album may well be the worst on any Immortal release, which is disappointing given that the sound quality on their other albums is actually a lot more tolerable than many of the black metal bands out there. Everything on this album mashes together to form one solid wall of sound in which everything is buried by everything else, with no instrument actually standing out for more than a millisecond before one of the other instruments drowns it out. Even Abbath's vocals are not as distinguishable as they were on previous albums, instead being mixed back a little. This is hands down one of the worst production jobs for one of the more well known black metal bands out there, being incredibly lo-fi and underwhelming, with the production under-paring the talent the members all clearly possess.

This album is just too short and fast for its own good, clocking in at less than twenty nine minutes and consistently using the hyper tempos, with next to no variation to be found whatsoever. This album will eventually begin to erode the listener's patience, being just so plain and painfully dull that it can not redeem itself, no matter how high the standard of musicianship on display. This is the weakest point in the Immortal discography by a long way.

One More Flurry - 85%

CrimsonFloyd, July 3rd, 2012

Blizzard Beasts is the third and final installment in Immortal’s “holocaust metal” trilogy. The album lacks the sheer compositional brilliance of Pure Holocaust but is slightly more creative than Battles in the North. While Battles in the North opts to create the “trapped in a snowstorm” atmosphere through sheer force, Blizzard Beasts employs a little more style. Here Immortal integrates choppier death metal riffs and rhythms into the icy landscape of blackened tremolo and blast beats, resulting in a fuller, more aggressive sound.

Blizzard Beasts consists of a series of quick hitting and concise tracks. The album’s total running time is under a half hour. If you exclude the epic “Mountains of Might” the other eight tracks are on average less than three minutes apiece. However, Immortal accomplishes a lot in short stretches of time. While the songs tend to center around crunchy lead riffs, Immortal does a nice job of seamlessly integrating lush bridges, stretches of icy tremolo and epic solos into these brief compositions. The result is an album that is quite dynamic; tracks like “Noctambulant” and the title track are absolutely smothering, while tracks like “Winter of the Ages” are shrill and frigid. Consequently, the album feels longer than it actually is—in a good way. There’s a lot to chew on for such bite size songs and a good amount of diversity throughout the recording.

The aforementioned “Mountains of Might” is definitely the outlier. The track is a mid-tempo epic, which builds off of “Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark)” from the prior album. However, whereas the composition of “Blashyrkh” was a little muddled, “Mountains of Might” is brilliantly pieced together. A mournful synth intro leads to a series of glorious riffs and an awesome chant-along chorus. This song would fit in perfectly on Immortal’s next album, At the Heart of Winter and is as good, if not better than any track on that album.

If there is a flaw with Blizzard Beasts it is that, save “Mountains of Might,” it lacks moments of brilliance. These songs will get your head banging and provide you with a few memorable hooks, but it rarely elevates to the profound heights of the first two albums. Still, Blizzard Beasts is a worthwhile closing chapter to Immortal’s holocaust metal era.

(Originally written for http://deinos-logos.blogspot.com)

Altars of Grimness - 90%

marktheviktor, August 7th, 2009

Immortal is such a good band that I can never decide which their best album is. It always changes. This is what all good metal bands should aspire to do with their output. Blizzard Beasts is underrated though. Not enough people give this record a shot because it’s so concise and different from Pure Holocaust and Battles In Ihe North. Well, I’m here to say that while it probably isn’t better than those two albums, it sure gives them a nice ride for the money. This isn’t Christ raping black metal; this is ice raping black metal. That’s right, Blizzard Beasts is so cold, so brutal it rapes the frost right off your ass that bit you so bad it was an anal bruising. Ya feel me on this? If you don’t, you sure will feel it after blasting this blitzkrieg from Blashyrkh. Bundle up.

When I listen to Immortal, I picture this: an icescape whose elements are so harsh they will wither you to stone. A frostbitten desert so vast, it makes the planet Hoth turn to jungle from green with envy. I’m so in awe of this band’s musical depictions of polar epicness that it snowblinds me. But what does Blizzard Beasts do different this time? There is a significant death metal pervasion throughout; specifically from a classic Morbid Angel type sound. Someone once described this album like Bathory on steroids. While Bathory’s music never needed any steroids, I have always fawned over Immortal’s worship of Quorthon’s style. They do Bathory worship better than anyone and they are almost as good. But this is some pretty fast and intense stuff with riffs that won't quit and Abbath's vocals are their awesome as usual Quorthon growls. I like how they are presented in the production quality too. They are given that effect that makes it seem blizzardly; cold winds of chaos sleet and slush all around. You get the picture. It ain't pretty but it's not supposed to be. That's why this album is pretty after all. As in pretty awesome.

If a guitarist gets an arm injury from playing the instrument, it should be from an album like Blizzard Beasts. Demonaz's final contribution here is maybe his best ever for the band. Mountains of Might spells it out pretty well since the song is so diverse but so coherent with the other songs. His riffing on that song sounds more traditional of the band with more open chord riffing but the pace still creates an echo effect from the death metal-y progressions heard on the other tracks. Winter of Ages brings it all more together since it sounds like an amalgamation of brutal thrash chords and the wick whacking winter storm of black metal distortion.

Horgh is the drummer on Blizzard Beasts and I think his blasting is nicely reminiscent of more of that Morbid Angel cognizance of fast and technical yet still raw enough for the black metal mashings. Nebular Ravens Winter and the track Suns That Sunk Below are two very distinctive examples of that influence. On the latter, you don't need me to point out that that little solo is remindful of Trey Azagthoth's playing.

The length of this record is beyond reproach as far as I'm concerned. Immortal have always kept it short but sweet on all of their material. Somehow the brevity of Blizzards didn't stand out as too noticeable because the depth and distortion in combination with the cold speed made it seem appropriate anyway.

The technical prowess and sheer weight of this ice sheet laden offering deserves another chance to those who think Blizzard Beasts is the band's failure. I say get over yourself and may you be cursed by the wrath of the Winterdemons because this album is black metal superiority. Immortal beloved.

Blizzard Beasts - 20%

Noctir, April 11th, 2009

My introduction to Immortal came with hearing the song "The Sun No Longer Rises" on a college radio show, many years ago. This cold and grim atmosphere was enough to draw me in. As a result, I quickly sought and acquired Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism and Pure Holocaust. A short time later, I got my hands on Battles in the North. Though each of these albums had their own sound, they were all similar in spirit and they constitute the classic era of Immortal. Blizzard Beasts, however, represents something far different.

This album was recorded in the autumn months of 1996, in Sigma Recording Studios. This is their first effort to be recorded outside of Grieghallen. Certainly, that may play a small part in the change in sound. Blizzard Beasts also saw the recruitment of new drummer, Horgh, though he did not reall contribute to the songwriting.

The album starts with a brief intro that seeks to create a nightmarish feeling through the horrific sounds. It does not serve much of a purpose, really. The album truly begins with the song "Blizzard Beasts". This sounds pretty similar to the songwriting from Battles in the North. The major difference here is the atrocious sound. Again, the guitars are buried underneath the drums and that is especially terrible here, as the drum sound is awful. The song ends with some random thrash riff and fades back into the shadows.

"Nebular Ravens Winter" begins with an interesting solo and the typical Immortal sound. The songwriting seems far less inspired here than on previous albums. There are more thrash riffs that might have been more appropriate with more of an old school production job. The chorus features some effect on Abbath's vocals. At this point, the listener may wonder where this is all going. There are a couple of decent riffs, but that is all that can be said for the song. The production really kills any chance that this has to be decent.

"Suns That Sank Below" really carries more of a Death Metal feeling. It is pretty awful. "Battlefields" isn't much better, though it does foreshadow the style that the band would employ on later albums, such as Sons of Northern Darkness. There are some okay tremolo melodies that are quickly displaced by mediocre thrash riffs. Again, there are more effects being used, this time on the riffs instead of the vocals. At some points, this album sounds like it was recorded under water.

The next song is "Mountains of Might" and this seems like one of the few worthwhile songs on here. It begins with a synth intro, creating a melancholy atmosphere as the sorrowful tremolo melodies come in, mixed with thrashier riffs. This song actually possesses an epic feeling and is comparable to "Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark)". This song is probably the only redeeming quality to this abomination. It's still mediocre when compared to the earlier material, but it definitely stands out on this album filled with atrocities.

"Noctambulant" begins with more useless riffs that hint at the band's later style. This couldn't be farther from Black Metal, though the argument could be made that Immortal was never actually a Black Metal band. Either way, this is pointless. "Winter of the Ages" continues this terrible sound. The shift in style might have been easier to digest if they hadn't gotten such a wretched production job. I'm not typically a fan of the Abyss Studio sound, but they might have benefitted from going there a little sooner than they did. "Frostdemonstorm" doesn't even sound like it was recorded during the same session, as the guitars and vocals are vastly different than the rest of the album. This is more of the same trash that can be found on the rest of the album, as Immortal doesn't know if they want to play Black, Death or Thrash Metal.

Blizzard Beasts is entirely worthless and Immortal fans are encouraged to avoid this piece of shit by any means necessary. Don't even allow yourself to be in the same room with a copy of this travesty. If you see if on a store shelf, smash it with a hammer. All copies of this should be gathered and destroyed, utterly. At the Heart of Winter and Sons of Northern Darkness were not in the same vein as the early albums, either, but they were executed far more successfully. Blizzard Beasts and its companion, Damned In Black, are truly blemishes on the legacy of Immortal. Even the few decent riffs that exist on this album are, ultimately, pointless as you can hear the same concept done much better on the albums that came before and after this one.

Three riders lead the winterbeast's charge. - 92%

hells_unicorn, January 24th, 2009

Immortal’s part in the black metal scene has been fairly auspicious, particularly because they’ve refused to stick to one specific sound within the spectrum of their style. After going through a pretty sizable shift over towards an extreme thrash riff take on black metal on “Battles In The North”, but coming up slightly short in the performance department, Abbath made the decision to put down the drum sticks and thus allow the band to once again become a band of 3 corpse painted riders of the Fimbulvetr (the terrible winter that precedes Ragnarok, for those not versed in heathen Norse mythology). The resulting sound maintains a fair degree of similarity with the previous release, but definitely transitions the band towards something much different than what they’d made themselves known for with the release of “Pure Holocaust”.

The first and most obvious development present is a large move towards an accessible, catchy and formally symmetrical approach to sonic structure. The riffs have a sort of dual sense of extreme thrash in the old Teutonic German scene, as well as a good amount of death metal trappings equal in extremity to the early offerings of Bolt Thrower and Morbid Angel, but with a cold and melodic nature that comes off as a more exciting and extreme variant on melodic death. A sense of complexity endures in the riff production, at times rivaling the unfettered fury heard out of your standard Dark Angel album post-1984, but the entire songs have inched their way even closer to the standard verse/chorus format indicative of earlier metal styles. Demonaz, who traded in his credentials as a lead player for a mostly riffs alone style beginning on “Pure Holocaust” has come back with a style heavily reminiscent of Trey Azagthoth’s chorus heavy, furious yet short lead bursts peculiar to Morbid Angel’s early 1990s work.

In terms of overall aggression and fury, most of what is on here is equal to what was heard on the last album, but with much more polish and precision. Right from the beginning of the blast beat happy, brain scrambling riff frenzy that is the title track “Blizzard Beasts”, the entire arrangement seems to revel in its super-chaotic sense of tightness and unity. You could swear that after hearing sub-3 minute fits of anarchic rage like “Suns That Sank Below” and “Winter Of The Ages” that an army of half Yeti, half polar bear like monstrosities had just trampled over top of you, followed by a gargantuan avalanche of snow burying your crushed carcass and sealing you in forever. Though not lacking in any excessiveness in violence of sound; slightly longer songs like “Nebular Ravens Winter” and “Battlefields” hint at a much more cohesive, epic thrash style that puts discernable melodic tendencies on equal footing with the controlled chaos that is expected out of this outfit. Picture a really extreme version of Kreator’s “Pleasure To Kill” with the epic anthem tendencies of Metallica’s “And Justice For All”, combined with a blackened and cold atmosphere and a vocal delivery reminiscent of early Bathory.

The one outlier amongst what is basically a compact, thrashy collection of short songs is the longer epic “Mountains Of Might”. In many ways this song looks ahead to the classic “At The Heart Of Winter”, which I personally view as Immortal’s answer to “Hammerheart”. It is an incredibly consonant and mournful melodic number that showcases a lingering influence of Burzum’s ambient music, particularly during the keyboard intro, as well as the use of heavy repetition common to Bathory’s Viking era, but maintaining the speed/thrash sound that the latter band abandoned in the 90s. There are frequent quiet breaks, a variety of melodic tremolo riffs that invoke both NWOBHM and Teutonic thrash influences, superimposed on a cold atmosphere steeped in a constant double bass rumble, and tempered by a set of poignant poetic verses describing the majestic, snow-covered mountains of the north. Put it all together into one lengthy work that just misses the 7 minute mark and you have the archetype for a variant of melodic black metal that would be attempted with lesser success by many others.

Though this isn’t the obscure yet magical classic that “Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism” was, or the triumphant blackened thrash homage to Northland glory that “At The Heart Of Winter” was, this is not something worthy of the shelf. It is a testament to the abilities of former guitarist Demonaz, whose maniacal riffs could induce tendonitis in most mortal men, and are now unfortunately beyond his own physical capabilities. Although there isn’t really such a thing as an Immortal album unworthy of purchase, this holds its place high in the band’s catalog and deserves a wider audience. It’s brutal and evil sounding enough to stand face to face with the likes of Suffocation and Cryptopsy, but it also carries the multifaceted characteristics of melodic beauty, structural coherence, and lyrical intelligibility that make black metal a unique art form within extreme music. The word essential does not do justice to the true nature of this grand, albeit transitional opus.

Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on January 24, 2009.

With Immortal we avoid the ice meltdown - 94%

CHRISTI_NS_ANITY8, September 6th, 2008

Many consider this album the weakest point by Immortal in their long career. I consider Blizzard Beast the turning point for them, instead. As you know, Immortal, during their career, passed through different kinds of black metal. They started as an almost old Bathory clone in their excellent debut, to become faster and icier in the following Pure Holocaust. Battles In The North was achieved as one of the most representative and fast examples of freezing black, as an epitome of the winter itself. This Blizzard Beast I think it was brought down in value just because it’s between two masterpieces of a different kind of black metal by Immortal, Battles In the North and the thrash/epic/black majesty of At The Heart Of Winter.

Many see this album as the forgotten one, maybe also for its short length but it’s also remarkable for the innovations that follow him and for a new conception of black metal by these guys. They couldn’t top the speed, the black essence and the personification of winter that lies in the two albums before, so they decided that it was time to change something remaining the same, a fucking black metal war machine. As I said in At The Heart Of Winter review, one song in particular showed that there was something new from this band, right to demonstrate that they were also good at playing something more epic and less fast without losing their coldness and that song was “Mountains Of Might”.

Ok, I gave you a little starter, but now let’s go in order in analysing this album. This is the last album by the awesome Demonaz that here once again delivers a pure power demonstration in destroying the chords with blasting fury and murderous precision. His riffs are always so icy and foggy and after the gloom intro, everything is displayed. The title track literally explodes and this time the production is truly pounding and heavy. The new drummer, Horgh, is tremendously heavy when he comes for the fast bass drum parts and the up tempo. The bass is truly like a clash of stones behind the wall by the guitars. “Nebular Ravens Winter” already shows less impulsive riffs and less will to destroy everything, remaining a killer song and a supreme demonstration of compact songwriting.

The blast beats run after the up tempo parts and the riffs are like an orgy of hyper fast palm muting parts and tremolo picking. The longer and “opened” parts are the most evocative with first signs of change and a preview of the future evolution. Every song is perfectly recognizable and “Suns That Sunk Below” has one of the most spectacular riffs I’ve ever heard from Immortal, that one at the beginning that is repeated during the length. The atmosphere in this album is one of the most obscure and weird Immortal ever created and it’s awesome. The tracks are short but terribly evocative and violent. Check the violent and thrashy riffs of “Battlefield” and tell me if this song couldn’t fit perfectly in more recent efforts by this band.

A desolate and epic keyboards intro presents us one of the greatest songs these Norwegians masters ever wrote: that famous “Mountains Of Mighty that still nowadays I regard as the true sing of change by this band. To me it’s really impossible to describe it in every single passage, melodic break, arpeggio and everything else. It would take an entire review just for it. I can only say that this is the massive example of superb epic and glacial sound. The homage to the icy and desolated northern landscapes. “Noctambulant” and “Winter of the Ages” don’t add anything new to the album but more rawness, coldness and a load of truly blasting riffs. The apocalyptic “Frostdemonstorm” has even something really catchy and cold at the same time in the guitars lines.

A special credit should be given to Abbath for its unmatchable brutality behind the microphone but all the members are just perfect. From Horgh, with his martial and blasting beats, to the great Demonaz that salute us with this extremely good example of how black metal is all about. They are the Kings.

Not bad - 80%

Human666, April 29th, 2007

'Blizzard Beasts' was the first Immortal album I've heard. It didn't blow me away or anything, but it was good enough to attract me to the other albums of the band.
Nine songs in almost 29 minutes is a pretty good time for this album because if it were longer it could get boring pretty easily. The songs don't sound much different from one another, but they fail to blend and can be separated after a few listenings. The formula is pretty consistent with intensive drumming and piercing riffing on the whole album (except some pretty small parts) with froggy vocals that carry the songs pretty well, but I think that death grunt growls could really increase something within the songs. Abbath's vocals fit well with the album but don't increase interestin levels.

There is a short and thrilling intro with some synthesizer effects and inhaled vox that creates a freezing atmosphere and leads into the first track "Bllizard Beasts", a pretty raw track with brutal drumming and solid riffing but isn't one of the best tracks here. "Nebular Ravens Winter" begins with a chaotic riff and then becomes a nice short lead guitar part that sounds pretty occult. The chorus is also pretty catchy and there is some soloing that makes this song sounds a bit epic. "Mountains Of Might" is easily the highlight. It begins with some keyboards creating a depressed melody and then the guitar comes in like a buzzsaw with awesome riffing and not much later there is a tempo change and the vocals come in and following the riffing. The chorus is also pretty catchy and there is a nice instrumental C-Part that changes the atmosphere a bit and then returns to the usual evil mood and ends completely evil.

This album has a pretty cold atmosphere due to the music and the words. The lyrics deliver you to a scene where you are on a great mountain beneath the glowing moon during a cold winter within one of Norway's deep forests. They describe a dark nature and mystic inspiration that connects with the music and creates an epic but still minimalist atmosphere and sweeps you in for the whole album.

A pretty enjoyable album and a must have for every black metal fan. At first listen it doesn't sounds so special, but when it clicks you'll really like it!

pretty good - 85%

SunGodPortal, December 1st, 2006

I really like the style Immortal went for on "Blizzard Beasts" because it has a black metal feel to it, but it sounds like really jerky hyper-thrash similar to early Morbid Angel (Altars of Madness) or Sarcofago (I.N.R.I. or Rotting). By BM standards these songs are terribly short, but at least we don't have to worry about them overstaying their welcome. Each tune makes it's point and then moves on. I've noticed that on some tracks the drums sound thin, shittie and almost fake. You don't really hear the cymbals that much. All you hear much of time is the triggered sounding snare accompanied by the clickety-click-click bass drums. The vocals are a hair too loud on occasion and there are some songs that you can hear the bass and others (most) you can't. These things make the production/mix seem totally half-assed, but none of the problems are severe enough to kill the album's potential. They're just a little annoying and I'm sure most people don't even notice. I like the fact that on some songs (like the title track) the guitars are not panned left and right like most albums. Here they are mainly dead center and that gives them a very mushy sound, but the riffing is accurate enough that it doesn't sound mushy in a bad way, really. I like that kind of sound. It sounds dense. Much of the problem with this album is in the mix, but there are also problems with the performance. The double-bass work is pretty sloppy sometimes and the solos/leads, though sparse, sound poory written/improvised and fall just short of hitting the mark. I know this sounds like there are a lot of problems and that "Blizzard Beasts" must be awful, but it saves itself due to what sounds like inspired and fresh song writing, even if the production is a little frustrating. In short, it may not knock your socks off depending upon how much you analyze it, but coming from a person who's not a huge Immortal fan (I've always found them to be a bit too silly to take seriously) I'd say it's a very cool album. If you don't mind the sloppiness and the ever changing mix you should enjoy the razor sharp riffage and the no-bullshit kind of feel.

Bathory on steroids. - 97%

LordBelketraya, November 10th, 2006

Before I write this, I believe we all have seen the corny picture on title page before checking out the reviews. This is something that they could never really get down, (that evil fucked up black metal poser appearance) while others have done it better like the LLN. They've been in all the "cheesy black metal look" lists that have included the likes of Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Venom, Celtic Frost, etc. But the music they played was no joke and it was definitely something that will be revered and copied by many in the future. In the end it's the subtance that outweighs the look. Immortal had an abundance of it. I always considered them to be a faster, next gen version of Bathory, the vocals are similar while the guitar and drums are sped up.

After releasing 3 excellent albums in 'Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism', 'Pure Holocaust' and 'Battles In The North' they upped it another notch with "Blizzard Beasts'. Personally this is my second favorite behind Pure Holocaust. Everything in this album sounds faster (if that's possible) and slightly more intense. This is due to Demonaz's guitar playing (or should I say shredding?), in here he's at his best making his instrument sound like strong winds from the winter blizzards. I really mean that too. It's such a shame that this would be his last appearance since he would develop tendinitis "repetitive strain injury" (RSI) in his arm due to his style of play.

In this album Horgh was added to the drumkit and it's a position he still occupies today. He's a great drummer and keeps up speed with the band really well. For the first time since their debut album the band had a solid 3-piece and it shows. Abbath's vocals are a bit louder and stronger on this album as opposed to 'Battles In The North' where he sounds weaker and almost sounding like an annoyed bullfrog just growling away. Here he definitely shows more vitality and interest. This album was to the point, it was short, quick and cold. This was the last album in which they would do it like this. Every album afterwards had longer, drawn out songs of epic nature and I'm not a big fan of that. In a way this is my last essential Immortal release.

Another Immortal classic! - 89%

GoatRitual, June 9th, 2006

I dived into this album years ago, but never went for the production until recently. I put it on and was a little disappointed by the intro. Who gives two cents for an intro? As I found out, it really doesn't matter because Immortal have just blown my mind with another exterminating black metal album with elements and dimensions.

The music remains raw and untouched on this album. It's got a death metal sound at times, but maybe that's just the production talking. This and the debut would be good choices if you enjoy the death sides of Immortal. Not to mention the many demos. But let's move on and skip the small talk, this album is certainly worthy.

"Nebular Ravens Winter" is the second track on the album, which reminds of the first track on "Sons..." but with more energy. One of the early peaks of the album lies in the third track titled "Suns That Sank Below", currently one of my favourite black metal songs in the way of riffing and originality. The album rips through any sort of soft melody and creates a fast, 90s style black metal sound with fast raspy vocals and blast beats out your grandma's cunt.

Lyrical approach is some of the most consistant on this album. As you'll notice, the writing fits the music perfectly, much like on "Sons..." and "Battles in the North". The drumming is original without a doubt, and some of Horgh's best talent right here. Although the snare sounds odd from time to time, there is no way in Hell's unholy fire that it's not an ingenious tone.

As the album spreads out, the longer middle track, number 6 titled "Noctambulant" starts off with a soft synth melody followed by a numerous amount of epic riffs. This track blows me away every time. Abbath screams about the snow in the valley and the mountainsides. Up until the end, these tracks keep on giving Immortal's most innovative work with rhythmical, tone-driven Norwegian black metal. I give this one a 8.5. Go check out "Mountains of Might" or "Suns That Sank Below" and you'll see what the fuck I'm talking about.

© CanadianMetal.com 2006

Mountains of Might! - 98%

TheSomberlain, January 19th, 2006

This 1997 release ranks as my favorite Immortal album. It's a quick blast of black metal fury. 8 songs (and an intro) in only 29 minutes. Most songs are between 2-3:30 minutes long. First off Immortal became a three piece band once again with the addition of Horgh on drums. Horgh does a great job keeping up with the speed of the guitars on this album and doesn't rely entirely on blastbeats, which is always a positive. This is also the last album to feature Demonaz on guitar as a hand injury ended his playing. He would still be an unseen fourth member writing lyrics on future albums.

Shit this album has so many high points! Pretty much everything about Nebular Ravens Winter, Suns That Sank Below and Noctambulant are top-notch. Battlefields is fucking fast! Horgh's drumming is at it's best in this song. The riff that kicks in at about a minute into the song is incredible!

The epic track Mountains of Might is after Battlefields. Mountains of Might starts with some synths before exploding into monster riffage that demands you to air guitar and headbang like a madman! Holy shit that riff that starts in at 1:23. Wow! This song is a glimpse of things to come on their next three releases. Unlike their more epic songs on those next three albums every riff fits the song perfectly. The song slows down twice to add a little more atmosphere to it. The second slowdown at the 5 minute mark is Immortal at their melodic best. Abbath singing "icy peaks as far as the eye can see" behind a clean guitar tone and then screaming "no one's even there" as that amazing riff kicks back in takes this song from being a classic to being perfect! This is my favorite song that Immortal wrote and one of my favorite metal songs of all time. The only problem I have with this is that it should have been the album closer and kept the streak of best song ending the album going. But that's just a minor complaint seeing as how Frost Demon Storm is still a vicious little closing track.

This album is Immortal at their best! Demonaz/Abbath wrote their best songs and Horgh gave his best performance on this album. What a way for Demonaz to go out. This is a must buy for Mountains of Might alone! But there's so much more to it than that great track that I am commanding you to go out and buy it right now!

A Change For The Better; Masterpiece - 98%

ict1523, October 23rd, 2005

Immortal have slightly changed their sound from their previous three albums. I think this is very good because the old stuff on “Pure Holocaust” and “Battles in the North” would have sounded very boring and repetitive had they done it again. There are many things on here that I consider a great improvement from previous works.

First of all, the songs sound slightly more varied even the ones on the one album. The production is much better. Abbath is no longer playing the drums, I realize Abbath is a very good musician, but drums just didn’t seem like his thing, he made many mistakes and it almost seemed like he wasn’t able to keep up with the speed he needed to drum at. Also the songs, instead of sounding like plain raw black metal, they are slightly more melodic, some acoustic parts come back, there are even moments when you can hear some thrash metal incorporated into black metal, and Abbath’s vocals are much better, have more strength in them, and actually vary. Best of all they even have some rhythm. Its not like he’s just speaking them at random times. Some of his screams which I liked on “Diabolical Fulmoon Mysticism” also come back here.

Some highlight tracks on here would have to be “Mountains of Might” which might as well be one of the best songs Immortal ever made. It starts off quietly, and then blasts you with some really great riffs and from about 0:51 to 1:21 actually sounds kind of like thrash. Sections like this, and there are a few of these throughout the album, even remind me of the old Kreator and Slayer. Another highlight track, “Nebular Raven Winter” has a section from 0:07 to 0:19 where the guitar actually sounds somewhat Egyptian. The melody is simply awesome. We even have ourselves a little Egyptian-sounding solo here from 2:05 to 2:16. “Blizzard Beasts” also has some awesome dark riffs especially at the beginning. Even the Intro sounds rather dark and quirky. Really nice mood setter.

Even the fact that the album is rather short, not even 30 minutes doesn’t bother me. If the album was any longer, Immortal might have run out of ideas and made the album seem a little repetitive. As long as its great and grasps my attention it’s a good album.

Overall this album is just spectacular and definitely one of my favorite black metal albums of all time. This is the point where Immortal slightly starts to vary from their older music, and while some don’t like this, I think it is an awesome progression from the older music.

Another Great Immortal Release - 90%

Symphony_Of_Terror, October 29th, 2004

A band that needs no introduction, Immortal strikes again with a quality release. At this point in Immortal’s career they were an established band with three previously great albums. This album comes filled with trademark Immortal’s icy riffs, grim vocals, and polished rawness. Its unrelenting in its aggression, this album will beat you down. It resembles some Blood Fire Death era Bathory riffs, clearly and influence. On top of all this, this album shows some amazing technique, musicianship, and how well a band can work together.

One of the things that I enjoyed most about this album, and what makes it what it is, is the album’s aggression and grimness. Like all of the previous Immortal albums, it has Abbath’s classic vocals, the creepy, grim, spoken word/singing, that gives this album its unrelenting grim atmosphere, and also when accompanied with the more aggressive riffs, its brutality. What makes this album so aggressive as well, is how well the entire band works together. In the beginning of Battlefields, as other songs off Blizzard Beasts, the listener will be hit with a aggressive and brutal barrage of black metal. The guitars and drums work so well together that its hard to hear them as different instruments, but the listener is drawn into listening into what the fusion of these instruments creates. This is probably the best thing a band can do, work so well together that it creates its own sound, not just a melody of drums, guitars, bass, and vocals. Everything goes so well together with this album it has more of its own sound, than the sounds of individual instruments. This is the sound of Blizzard Beasts.

As with a lot of black metal, atmosphere is a big part of it. But I feel that this album is to aggressive and relentless to create much of an atmosphere other than the raw and grim feel the other Immortal albums have. There are some moments to break away from the aggression though and add something different or memorable. In Frost Demon Storm some synthesizers will start playing towards the end of the song and Abbath will simply groan or screech, making the song darker and more grim. Another memorable moment is a fast and relentless guitar solo that may seem haphazardly thrown over the intro to Suns That Sank Below but I feel adds some intensity, it is an unique moment in the song and one of many others. There is a lot to be found to enjoy in this album.

The only thing about this album that is not up to the standards that I expect from Immortal is the length, its not even thirty minutes long. So this album is over before its done. If this album were to say one and a half times longer it would be much more strong and powerful. Its not like the length affects the quality of the music on this album, but it does enough to hurt the album overall. Such a strong album musically deserves more, but then the band would run into the problem of shoving too many tracks on one album. The track length is right where is should be, but I feel Immortal could have lengthened some songs like Nebular Ravens Winter, Winter of Ages, and The Sun That Sank Below without sacrificing power, but in fact improving the album.

With all this said and done, Blizzard Beasts proves to be a worthy addition to the Immortal Catalogue. I believe this should have been One of the last Immortal albums since it could have helped end Immortal’s career on a more powerful note. If you want an old school black metal album with grim vocals, aggressive and brutal instruments, then you have found it with Blizzard Beasts. This album is not as powerful as Pure Holocaust and Battles In The North. Still a worthy listen to by any means. If the length were longer The album would be near perfect. The music is almost powerful enough to overcome this flaw, so it would be unjust to penalize this album based on length since the music is amazing simply put.

Great black metal, with few faults - 90%

Arch88Enemy, May 17th, 2004

I have been a pretty big fan of Immortal since I first heard 'At the Heart of Winter", and Blizzard Beasts is the last Immortal album I have bought. Everything I have heard from them is great, and this is no exception.

Blizzard Beasts starts off with a bizarre intro with synths, wind sounds and whatnot and Abbath screaming something like "...Winters away..". After that, it goes into an all out black metal assault with the title track. The first thing that comes to mind, though, is that all of the sudden the sound got quiet as compared to the intro. But that's not too bad, unless you want to hear it loud without being blasted by the intro, but its easy enough to just skip over it.

My only real problem is that there is not enough variety in the album, the drumming seems to be similar beats throughout. However, Mountains of Might brings in an interesting change with a quiet synth intro, and great riffs throughout the whole song. This song begins the part of the album where I usually start to listen more closely, as these last few songs are much better attention grabbers than the others. Noctambulant has an interesting groove (if you want to call it that) going on, making it a bit more distinct from the other songs, and of course it has that trademark sound of Demonaz behind the guitar. Winter of the Ages is another great one, faster than Noctambulant, slower than Frostdemonstorm, with some great riffing in it.

Frostdemonstorm is one of the fastest, raw-est songs I've ever heard... well, it seems there's a point where you just can't get any rawer or faster without just being rediculous, so I'll just say its the rawest fastest song that I've heard that isn't a rediculous wall of sound. The whole song isn't fast and raw though as there is a nice clean section at approx 1:45, built off of one of the main riffs.

If the first half of Blizzard Beasts were as memorable as the second, then perhaps this would have recieved a better rating, but it's still an all around good black metal album. The fact that it is only about 29 mins long takes away from it a bit, but that's not too bad of a thing either, if you view an album as a complete work of art (ex. If you were to add stuff from ATHOW to the end just to make it longer, it would take away the flow and ultimately hurt the album), so perhaps it's best left short. If you express that view, then there is nothing bad about this album, as I probably dont like the first few songs just because of my personal tastes, so this one's definately worth adding to your collection.