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A huge step down from At The Heart Of Winter - 45%

psychosisholocausto, February 13th, 2013

The sixth studio album by Norwegian black metal titans Immortal was the sound of a band going through an identity crisis. Whereas the previous release, At The Heart Of Winter, had been a black metal album with a thrash tint to it that was a complete masterpiece in every sense of the word, Damned In Black is a thrash metal album with a blackened tint to it that is one of the weakest they have put out. The sound to this album is that of a typical Slayer album with black metal shrieks and the use to blast beats, sounding like a cacophony of utter chaos. On Damned In Black, the band went from one of their best releases to their joint weakest, taking away all of the intensity and majesty of the previous release and instead putting out a mash-up of various ridiculous ideas and sounds.

Musically, this album is just noise, with thrash riffs found left right and center whilst drummer Horgh lays down monotonous blast beats throughout the album and Abbath shrieks his lungs out attempting to give this album a little credibility but to no avail. Triumph is the song that opens up this album and immediately hits the listener with the most unwelcome collection of equally stupid ideas to be found. The riffs sound like a second rate extreme thrash band without any context whatsoever in which to put them. If the drums were slower, then the band could perhaps pass themselves off as a weaker version of Slayer or Demolition Hammer, but instead Horgh refuses to slow down, with the band clearly still under the misguided illusion that they are playing pure black metal music still.

This is Horgh's weakest performance behind the kit on any Immortal album, with his beats being monotonous for the most part, with very few tempo changes that actually affect the sound of the album. This is not as bad as Blizzard Beasts, but is still not much better, with only a few half decent riffs to carry it through, with the majority of them found on the title track that closes off the album. If the listener has suffered through enough of the album to reach this song, then perhaps they will find solace in the fact that this song is not half bad, with the flaws that plagued the rest of the album not being as prevalent here.

The band would continue to attempt this style from this point onward, with Sons Of Northern Darkness and All Shall Fall embracing the thrash side of the band, although never to this degree. This album is decent enough as an entry to the band's discography, but on a musical note it is very underwhelming and lacks any of the punch of the album that preceded it and the two that have followed it to date. Abbath and the boys experienced a huge misfire on this album, which is only just rendered average due to the final song that has enough merit to it to boost the album on the whole. Thankfully the band never made this mistake again.