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Damned in shoddiness - 39%

Aurora Rider, May 23rd, 2019

''At The Heart of Winter'' for sure left many black metal fans with high hope for the future of Immortal. However, everything the band built in the aforementioned masterpiece was kind of ruined with the release of ''Damned In Black'', an album not as groundbreaking and one which mostly reminded me of the band's awkward 1995-1997 era.

With tha band choosing to compose many more fast and aggressive guitar rifts this time, it is made clear from the very first song that this album is not going to have a sinister atmosphere. Instead, there are numerous powerful melodies, which I personally believe give ''Damned In Black'' a somewhat thrash metal character. Drumming also plays a significant role when it comes to the formation of this new style, since for the most part there are fast rhythms and blast beats. Unfortunately, both them and the aforementioned guitar rifts are rather uninspired and boring. I do not think they are not well-played or composed, really. I just think the band either didn't have the time or didn't want to come up with more clever and catchy ideas.

The same story applies to the bass lines as well. There is simply nothing special or new to them. On the other hand, Abbath seems to have left his awkward past behind for good. His vocal style has become better throughout the years. To be accurate, in this album he seems to be doing a much better job, with his vocals sounding evil, without him pretending to be some kind of mean demon snowman. Too bad the rest of the music is in fact a compilation of conventional thrash compositions. Maybe if Immortal used more acoustic interludes, a few slower rifts and keyboards this album would have much more variety and would not be as tiring. Because in the end I felt like I spent too much time listening to an album of which every track sounds similar to one another.

All in all, ''Damned In Black'' is a mediocre album. There is evolution in the way the band composes and plays music, yes. But getting better in composing doesn't mean you release better albums too. This is a record full of energy, which however doesn't offer anything but brutalize the listener through its lack of atmosphere and monotony.