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Death metal beginnings - 73%

torn, December 28th, 2005

This short demo (released just over a year before their first full-length) displays a very different sound than we are used to from Immortal. This is pure death metal, and offers only a hint at what was to come. The song titles betray the death metal sound before you’ve even listened to any music, but once the first song kicks in it’s obvious that this is not black metal. It starts off with a tremolo-picked riff over a blast beat, and deep, almost guttural vocals grunt over the music. There are plenty of changes in pace, with different riffs to accompany each section. The guitars sound quite down-tuned, but the riffs are all perfectly legible. We even get a (very) brief solo at about three minutes in. The band also employ the Morbid Angel technique of screaming the song title at regular intervals in place of a ‘chorus’.

‘Enslaved In Rot’ starts off with a great riff (although at points it sounds like one of the guitars is out of tune) and some impressive mid-paced drumming, with frequent fills. The song alters between fast and mid-paced, with the band preferring to use a more interesting selection of drum patterns rather than just typical blasting. Again, the vocals are deep and powerful, with one or two higher-pitched screams, and the lyrics are almost entirely illegible. There’s another brief but quite impressive solo at about two minutes into the song.

‘Left On A Stake’ starts with another great opening riff, with some powerful drumming behind it. As with the other two songs, the emphasis is on rhythm rather than speed, but that doesn’t stop the band from blasting every now and then. There are more of the very brief solos and more guttural vocals. To be honest, all three songs sound pretty much the same; they use the same writing/composing formula, and they tend to stay around a certain range of speeds, never getting ultra-fast or too slow.

The production is, predictably, not great, but luckily the main problem is just that it lacks power or punch, and all of the instruments can actually be heard very clearly. The vocals have a tendency to drown everything else out a little, but not to the point that it ruins the music. It’s a short demo, and the music is good, but it’s nothing special, so unless you’re a die-hard Immortal collector, it’s not worth putting too much effort into finding this. It’s also worth considering that this sounds nothing like their black metal releases, so if you thought that ‘Pure Holocaust’ was Immortal at their peak, then this is probably not for you.