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A turning point in their carrer - 90%

calderabanuet, August 2nd, 2013

Sometime ago, I found a blog run by an ol’French ass face badly obsessed with underground black metal; the interesting thing about this particular blog, amongst millions out there and aside the fact it was extremely well nurtured by around a thousand posts, was that rather than a review, the so called blogger would give each post a sort of fun, sort of descriptive and sort of ingenious name to the band’s music style. Being so, sub-genres such as incisive fundamentalist northern African black metal, old school black fucking death metal or modern orthodox black metal with post-black influences are typical to the mentioned blog.

To make a long story short, this guy included quite a few releases that were not underground at all within his posts, and I was able to see Immortal among the bands listed. What I wanted to come across since I started writing this is precisely how this blogger classified Immortal’s work: modern Norwegian black metal.

Although I usually disregard sexless-unemployed-fat-living-with-their-mothers-completely-fucken-useless-opinionated-sort-of-nerds’ points of asshole view, I must admit I couldn’t have said (typed?) it any better. The influence Abbath and Demonaz have had in metal all over the world is FUCKEN UNDENIABLE, and while many Norwegian acts have gone for a very commercial MTV-Hollywood-like sound and image, Immortal belong to the little group of cult bands who have kept up their own reputation showing some class, not that many know what that means…

Now, “Damned in Black” is a fine example of what I mean, by preserving all the elements that made Norwegian metal what it is (was?), as well as including some modern improvements; its sound is raw, it goes from mid paced to moderately speed, there’s SOME epicness to be found, yet it is not cheesily spread all over the surface, you need to look for it. Also it’s not over produced as one could expect from a monster like this, but it is right in the middle between too much money wasted in post-crappy-lying-production and equally-crappy-false-underground-lack-of-production (try to read that last sentence aloud at once).

Back in 2000, this is how Immortal saluted the new millennium, by playing black metal in a way that wasn’t usual; for example, if not the first, this is ONE of the earliest BIG BM releases that included within layers of true rawness what you could think of as breakdowns these days. Of course, Abbath managed to do it without abusing of it as a resource, and that might be the reason why such and innovation went unnoticed. Not that chan-chan-chan riffs if you know what I mean, are a real innovation, but for including them elegantly in a record full of tremolo picking, you have to give some credit to the man.

Sound like a fan, uh? Well, you’re right, but don’t tell me I didn’t told ya! Frankly, I believe this is the album that truly led to current and defining Immortal’s style, withdrawing back to a simpler sound after the successful experiment that “At the Heart of Winter” was, and before releasing “Sons of Northern Darkness” and eventually “All Shall Fall”, both in the same vein as “DiB”.

I consider its only actual sin to be how short the album is; really, it’s like having good sex except too rapidly, with the awful sensation of wanting more. Also, which is arguable and considering the more modern approach to BM here, they could have included some more guitar solos in the songs, but hey, we all know Abbath is not exactly a very proficient guitar player.

Why this almost classic has been neglected and underrated for years is beyond me. It is heavy, raw, fast enough, and hell, it’s damned and imbued in authentic blackness! Shame on you if you don’t think of this one as a compulsory must-have for every metal-head who praises himself of being one, and if you do, think better and put it in a higher position in the list, unless of course, you are one of those who believe that black metal got to its best back in the 80’s, in which case, I really can’t get why you’re still reading.

My fave tracks: “Darkness that Embrace Me” for its great grim atmosphere and songwriting, “Damned in Black” for its melodic use of disaggregated power chords, and “Triumph“for its explicit wrath.

—Originally written for