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Immortal - Northern Chaos Gods - 80%

Voidhanger2, August 9th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Nuclear Blast America

Well Jesus jumping Christ it’s about fucking time. It’s been almost a decade since the underwhelming-but-not-bad “All Shall Fall” and Immortal have finally returned sans longtime vocalist and frontman Abbath, who bailed after some legal disputes and released his own self-titled album from his self-titled band. It was a decent enough emulation of Immortal, but there’s no question that “Northern Chaos Gods” completely trounces it.

As clichéd as the turn of phrase sounds, “Northern Chaos Gods” marks a return to form for Immortal. Remember putting on “Battles in the North” for the first time and getting blown apart by a barrage of blasting? Well, the aggression and speed of old is back, and is evident right from the get-go. No fanfare, no intro, no fancy fucking business – just sheer speed, the likes of which we haven’t heard from Immortal since the mid-nineties. ‘Blacker of Worlds,’ ‘Into Battle Ride’ and the eponymous song are relentless flurries of Horgh’s monstrous kit pummeling and Demonaz’s ice-cold riffing that even occasionally calls to mind “Pure Holocaust” in a way that no other millennial Immortal album has been able to.

That’s not to say that “Northern Chaos Gods” is a complete regression. They’ve retained some of the melodic aspects of later albums like “At the Heart of Winter,” especially evident in ‘Where Mountains Rise’ and ‘Mighty Ravendark,’ that give the album moments of towering majesty and allow Immortal to capture the best of all of their eras and accumulate it into one formidable outing.

Now to touch on the obvious elephant in the room – or rather, not in the room – Abbath. Immortal's sound has long been associated with Abbath’s writing and trademark vocals, and there was speculation that continuing Immortal without him would be disastrous. Demonaz is not Abbath, and that familiar frog-croak is nowhere to be found on “Northern Chaos Gods.” Having said that, Demonaz is a fantastic vocalist in his own right and his voice fits Immortal perfectly. The fact is that as much as I enjoyed Abbath on vocals on their previous albums, he’s not terribly missed here. Any question about the writing surviving Abbath’s departure needs only to listen to the first few seconds of the album as proof that there is indeed life after Abbath.

“Northern Chaos Gods” is a vicious and forceful mission statement by an invigorated Demonaz and Horgh to say that Immortal is not only back, but back to what made the band what it is. It’s a statement that they back completely. “Northern Chaos Gods” is what I, and I suspect many others, have wanted to hear from Immortal for a long time.

Written for http://www.drunkinagraveyard.com

The familiar shadow of Blashyrkh's reign. - 91%

hells_unicorn, July 26th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Nuclear Blast (Limited edition, Digipak)

Chaos is the language of Blashyrkh's mighty bards, and it stands to reason that given the progression of time and the unchanging nature of their prose, old allegiances would give way to a massive civil war. This tale of shifting loyalties and newly forged nations within metal's expanding realm is obviously not a new one, but for the longstanding and pioneering 2nd wave outfit of all things black and wintry Immortal, it would take a rare twist. The inevitable yet troubling schism between Abbath and Demonaz that led to the former's exodus from the fold after serving as its dominant personality subsequently led to a triumphant affair in the eponymous solo album of said front man in 2016, embodying just about everything that Immortal was during the closing days of the 1990s. It is most uncommon for two equal foes to arise from the split of a metal institution of any stylistic persuasion, but given Demonaz's own impressive display with his solo venture March Of The Norse in the vocal and songwriting department, there was a glimmer of hope that this would come to pass, not withstanding the fact that it had been about 20 years since he'd handled a guitar in the studio due to a debilitating fit of tendinitis that afflicted him soon after the recording of Blizzard Beasts.

The stars were apparently in alignment when Demonaz and Horgh entered the studio, because the eventual collection of frostbitten anthems to the mountains high that is Northern Chaos Gods is not only a formidable response to Abbath's debut LP, but also a faithful contribution to the Immortal legacy that picks up precisely where Blizzard Beasts left off. It is not a full on retread of their raw, 1990s character of sound as Demonaz is more interested in capturing the magic of the past rather than outright reliving it, but a very current interpretation of the good old days that features a production more in keeping with the clarity and poise of All Shall Fall and Demonaz's subsequent solo outing. It captures the duality of Bathory's black and Viking eras into a singular stylistic expression that is both grandiose and vilely militaristic, spending about as much time in the blasting madness of a mighty blizzard of riffs as it does in a mid-paced march towards the battlefield. Credit should obviously be given to Horgh's mighty drum work, which does far more to shape the duality of frenzied chaos and orderly thrashing that typifies these songs, but it is the combination of Demonaz's highly involved guitar work and his near perfect emulation of Abbath's raspy ravings that truly brings the coldness into focus.

The various chapters of these bleak chronicles of Blashyrkh's ongoing quest for world domination function as perfect amalgams of what some might dub the middle era of Immortal, namely the trilogy that spanned Pure Holocaust until the last album featuring Demonaz on guitar, redressing the imperfect drum work of the first two albums while also providing a clearer sound than the nearly flawless Blizzard Beasts. Berzerker-like fits of blasting madness such as the opening title song "Northern Chaos Gods", "Into Battle Ride" and "Blacker Worlds" hold up the chaos factor quite effectively, challenging even the most intense of the 2nd wave's 90s offerings while eschewing the lack of coherence that often came along for the ride, and also featuring an impressive shred fest out of Demonaz in the former song's case. More driving anthems such as "Called To Ice" and "Grim And Dark" carry a bit more of a thrashing feel that's a bit more in line with the At The Heart Of Winter sound, while the mixture of serene interludes and mid-paced brutality of "Where Mountains Rise" and the long winded closer "Mighty Ravendark" reminisce on the auditory storytelling and scene painting that made "Mountains Of Might" arguably the best musical accomplishment in Immortal's career.

There is a temptation to become overly nostalgic regarding the early days when the two titans that founded this band were side by side like two great commanders ordering the hordes of the north into victory, but if there is one silver-lining in the divide that resulted in Abbath's going it alone, it is that they still seem to harbor a degree of respect for each other. Call it honor among villains or just the sentiment of old friendships enduring despite the cessation of a musical alliance, but this may prove to be one of the most fruitful rivalries to develop in metal's ongoing existence. Old school fans of Immortal will likely give this album a slight edge over Abbath's 2016 debut given its closer proximity to the good old days, and the author of this review definitely finds himself among said group. The stylistic devices are all in place and the lyrical themes include all the usual references to endless war within a parallel world where darkness reigns and winter never ends, but there is a definite freshness to this that is sure to ring as relevant today as this band's seminal works were more than two decades ago. The Fimbulvetr is upon the mighty plains, the Northern Chaos Gods have spoken, so will ye join with the mighty legions of Blashyrkh Ravendark or fall by their icy blades?

Originally submitted to (The Metal Obsever) on July 25th, 2018.

Victorian crest... sort of - 75%

Xyrth, July 19th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Nuclear Blast (Limited edition, Digipak)

Northern Chaos Gods has been greatly accepted by the metal community, and while I concur it's a solid release, I'm not as enthusiast about it as some of my metal brothers and sisters out there. In particularly, the phrase “a return to form” makes me smirk. It certainly could have been much worse (or better), though we all knew Demonaz and Horgh are not average black metal musicians. Still, it's very hard for a band to lose its most important key member and carry on with the same spirit. When established bands lose their iconic frontman, like it happened to Judas Priest or Iron Maiden, there's opportunity to experiment with a new voice, perhaps new sounds as well. As we've seen, in both of those examples the results left a lot to be desired. That's not always the case, though. You have extreme metal acts, like Incantation, that had released outstanding work with different vocalists. But when you lose your VOICE and your main COMPOSER at the same time, the panorama doesn’t seem that promising. Still, the remaining members of Immortal played it safe, and safe and sound is what you get.

Let me clarify that it's not my intent to minimize what Horgh and especially Demonaz have done here, nor their careers in Immortal, nor their capabilities as musicians. There was a minimum quality expected, and they deliver. I don't forget that Demonaz is a co-founder and was the main guitar composer in the early days of the band, not that Abbath's drumming compared to Horgh's feels like the difference between a crippled chicken and peregrine falcon in its prime. But my favorite Immortal epoch came to light once Abbath stepped into the role of undisputed leader and songwriter for the band. From At the Heart of Winter 'til All Shall Fall the band developed their truly signature sound; a semi-thrashy, quasi-technical form of epic black metal tastefully iced and coated in awesomeness. Before that, the band was as kvlt as they come… but also somewhat sloppy, monotonic and inconsistent in quality, style and delivery, with the exception of their purest black metal record, Pure Holocaust, the one LP I think could rival At the Heart of Winter as their best.

It's no surprise that both gentlemen tried to recapture that early-90s darkness and cold here, a style in which Abbath's input wasn't overtly important in comparison to later works. The guitar distortion is as raw as on their first four LPs, with an emphasis on speed and nastiness rather than complexity, while Horgh blasts with mighy, employing mostly rapid fire percussion and occasionally mid-paced standard rhythms. In that regard, Northern Chaos Gods is very successful, and logically, it has found great acceptance among fans of the first Immortal records. Yet I feel those fans are content with listening to a rehashing of Pure Holocaust, only with a greater 'war metal' feel, modern production, but the same song structures, the same titles, and an equally iconic black and white cover. Abbath's vocals definitely have more personality, range and raw power than the similar-but-not-quite vox Demonaz employs here, and that's my main qualm with Northern Chaos Gods. Vocally, I was hoping for something closer in sound to March of the Norse, which I would have preferred, but Demonaz goes 100% kvlt here with monotonic shrieks that sound exactly the same all the time. Not a thing that matters to most black metal enthusiasts, but it matters to me.

But even If I encounter myself in the minority not drooling over this, I have to concede the compositions are iceberg solid. I was certainly impressed the first time I listened to “Northern Chaos Gods”, with an unleashed Horgh blasting mercilessly. But after several spins, as it happened with the rest of the album, the appeal diminished and although I still enjoy it, I don't think it's a very memorable track. That rings true for each and every one of the compositions here, most of them focusing on aggressive speed and heaviness in early Immortal fashion. “Where Mountains Rise” is probably my choice cut, with a mid-paced glory that recalls the I project sole release Between Two Worlds or Demonaz’ own solo album. 9-minute closer “Mighty Ravendark” also recalls Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism's likewise epic long track, “A Perfect Vision of the Rising Northland”. I have to acknowledge Demonaz guitar playing is solid and varied enough. We all know the guy's been limited due to his ailment, but he's been getting back on track, an example of perseverance and dedication. His style again is not as distinctive and varied as Abbath's, but closer to classic second wave black metal, a thus, more popular. It's not THAT different, truth be told. Immortal still sounds like Immortal, instrumentally at least.

You might call me a fanboy, but this Abbath-less Immortal just doesn't fire my loins that much, in contrast to people who prefer their black metal plain and straight, and, free of humor as well. As Abbath encompasses both the iconic kvlt aspect of black metal as much as its parody side, in a similar manner to what Manowar represents for classic heavy metal, it's no surprise some call him a clown or sellout and claim Immortal's better off without him, despite what he's done for the genre. Metalheads that consider black metal a sacred and pure form or art (that is, take it too seriously), certainly won't agree with most of what I've written here. But for me, in this frosty meal, the main ingredient is clearly absent, and thus the flavor is unsurprisingly lacking, if enjoyable to an extent. Neither a failure or a true triumph to my ears, Northern Chaos Gods doesn't add nor subtracts quality to Immortal's discography. The gates of Blashyrkh might have been opened again, but what came through isn't impressive enough for me.

At the Heart of Summer - 90%

Twisted_Psychology, July 19th, 2018

Despite a nine-year gap and a major lineup overhaul since 2009’s All Shall Fall, Immortal has hit a stylistic sweet spot with Northern Chaos Gods. The harsh, brittle style of the black metal legends’ 90s material is matched with the 2000s-era’s grandiosity without having to deal with the former era’s occasional sloppiness or the latter’s ultra-polished production. It’s a lot like At the Heart of Winter in execution, though what was a transitionary sound then feels more like a “best of both worlds” presentation now.

Demonaz’s first recorded appearance on an Immortal album since 1997’s Blizzard Beasts is certainly a welcome return. His time on the sidelines was not in vain as his guitar retains the speed and sharpness of the Pure Holocaust days while his vocal debut is marked by a series of fitting though nondescript rasps. Horgh’s signature snowstorm drumming serves as the grand equalizer of all the styles on display though Peter Tagtgren’s bass ends up buried in the process. Considering how this is Tagtgren’s fifth Immortal album in the producer’s chair and bass has never been this band’s strong suit, I imagine he isn’t too broken up about it.

As heralded by the title track and “Mighty Ravendark” not only serving as lead singles but also album bookends, the eight songs on here represent the two sides of Immortal quite nicely. In fact, it may represent them a little too well as the tracks are evenly divided between faster paced songs and the band’s signature mid-tempo anthems. The faster songs do run together at times and there are progressions lifted directly from classic songs but tracks like “Gates to Blashrykh” and “Where Mountains Rise” are poised to become future Immortal standards.

Northern Chaos Gods is designed to reassure fans more than revolutionize the black metal scene, but all the recent shifts and band drama result in one of Immortal’s strongest outings to date. Demonaz proves to be a capable leader, effectively injecting an old school aesthetic into the band’s grim and frostbitten vision. It may be an intentionally derivative work but fans of all things Immortal should enjoy the trip.

Highlights:
“Northern Chaos Gods”
“Gates to Blashrykh”
“Where Mountains Rise”
“Mighty Ravendark”

Originally published at http://indymetalvault.com

Still Immortal - 80%

Eruntalon, July 15th, 2018

Since the announcement of the recordings in 2016 this is an album that was long awaited, and being Immortal my first contact with black metal – probably this is also true for many people – this awaiting couldn’t be different for me. I always put them side by side with great heroes of heavy metal. There’s fierceness, power and gloom in their music, crucial elements of the genre; but there’s also a vivid thrill, a kind of joy that can be felt in the blind euphoria of their dark riffs and lyrics, something I don’t find in other black metal bands.

After Abbath’s exit from the band, and after the issues relating to that, it was plausible that people could be concerned about the future of the band. The announcement of new recordings have happened in December 2016 and just now, July 2018, we have Northern Chaos Gods. For many people Abbath with his outgoing personality was the face of Immortal, but I don’t see as honest the doubts concerning the integrity of the band after his exit. Immortal, since the beginning, has had the lyrical work from Demonaz – which is also a crucial element, though Blashyrkh can be deemed as a creation of both of them – and the musical choices in this new album are evidence that Immortal’s music is not just Abbath’s property. I respect Abbath as a great artist and personality of heavy metal, but Immortal is greater than Abbath.

The first impression you can get from the album is it’s straightness: riffs in a classic thrash pace allied to blast beats make the main tone of the album. Usually it can be taken as a poor option if the band is just waffling out, but this is not the case. You have classic here but it doesn’t sound as more of the same, it’s good metal to listen on a daily basis. I don’t know if someone have come up with a formula, but there are works in which the classical things sounds as new, and this album is a good example of that.

I can feel the presence of Sons of The Northern Darkness and Blizard Beasts in this album, and it also remembers me of At the Heart of Winter – my first contact with Immortal – due to the well constructed arpeggios in Gates of Blashyrkh and in Where The Mountains Rise. These cold and cavernous arpeggios give the tone I wished to feel in this album: for me this the most precious element in their music, for it seems to ignite all the sense of coldness and darkness in the music, therefore giving to the listener a mindscape of Blashyrkh. This also seems to say to the fan that despite the issues the band has faced, good old Immortal is still here.

I also liked to listen to Demonaz’s vocal in this album. It is another piece of classic black metal: a harsh vocal singing in an epic style, truly telling a story and setting a mindscape. The drums from Horgh are quite good too: it’s focused in the tradition of blast beats but it also has something inventive in the composition. The entire album is a good piece but I must point Dark Ravendark as a really great track: it has all of the above plus the inspired tremolos that give the song an epic attitude. It’s hard for me to give an 80 for this album because I really expected something huge, but if they keep composing songs as this last one I will certainly have a good reason to raise my stakes.

With this release I truly hope they start an international tour. I haven’t had the pleasure to see the original set up on stage but I will gladly go to a concert in this new phase of the band. They are here an they keep doing good metal. May they keep like this.


https://abysswanderer1.wordpress.com

A Stellar Return To Form - 87%

Insomberlain, July 15th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Nuclear Blast (Limited edition, Digipak)

I have been waiting ages for this. And I am ecstatic to report that Immortal is still, in spite of their nine year hiatus, one of the most potent forces in all of Norwegian black metal.
This album is a squall of memorable tracks, drawing infiluence from both eras of Immortal, from “Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism” to “Sons Of Northern Darkness”, in fact, the album can be divided into two halves. The first four tracks are in a similar style to that of “Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism”, I was listening to this outside in the summer heat of July and as soon as the title track began, I felt like the seasons changed from summer to winter in a heartbeat. The title track that bears the same name of the album is a magnificent and relentless tirade of blastbeats and Demonaz’s still consistent guitar playing.

And to address the lineup change, Demonaz has replaced Abbath in place of guitars and vocals, in terms of musicianship with a guitar, the change is almost absent. And in terms of vocals, I think I actually favor Demonaz more. His voice is more of a rasp compared to Abbath’s semi-croak. This assault of relentless aggression and blastbeats continues until the second half of the album, marked by “Called To Ice”. This track is mid paced and majestic with shimmering riffs that almost melodeath influenced and Demonaz’s harrowing rasps. This half of the album evokes some of my favorite Immortal albums such as “All Shall Fall”, “Sons Of Northern Darkness”, and “At The Heart Of Winter”. This half consists of the much more elegant and epic arrangements put out by Immortal.

The experience is marked to an end with my favorite Immortal song to date, “Mighty Ravendark”. And contrary to my suspicions, it is not a re-recording of “Blashyrkh - Mighty Ravendark”. In fact, it almost proves to be superior to that track. “Mighty Ravendark” has some of the best riffs of the year by leaps and bounds, immersing you in its beautiful atmosphere. As for the few downsides this album has, I’m afraid I’ll have to nitpick that Horgh’s drumming falls into the background and is overshadowed by the guitar riffs. A little forgettable, but consistent nonetheless. One of the things Immortal does better than most other black metal bands, is the production. The production is that crisp and clear Nuclear Blast production that makes the drums more percussive, riffs more harmonious, and the vocals more intelligible without being overproduced and artificial.

Immortal have returned to their old glory once again with this album and prove Demonaz’s skills as a guitarist and a vocalist. I was worried at first by Abbath’s departure, but I’m glad that this release attests that Immortal is in good hands. This is truly one of my favorite Immortal records to date and certainly will be going into my favorite albums of 2018. Hopefully Demonaz will prove to be better at crabwalking than Abbath.

Immortal - Northern Chaos Gods - 95%

DHJN, July 15th, 2018

Immortal is finally back after a 9-year absence.
A lot has happened since then, with legal issues, Abbath going his own way, and so on. Nevertheless, remaining members Demonaz and Horgh decided to continue on with Immortal, and create Northern Chaos Gods. And was it worth it? Absolutely.

Since we last heard from Immortal, Demonaz now handles vocal duties, as well as playing the guitar again. Horgh is back behind the drum-kit, with producer Peter Tägtgren handling the bass. They all do a solid job on this, and credit has to be given especially to Demonaz for handling both vocals and guitars brilliantly - despite his Tendinitis diagnose.

As for the music on this record, it draws from most of Immortal's earlier works. I would say that most fans will get their desired dose of Immortal on this here. Roughly, the music presented can be put into two categories: one being the faster, more "classic" black metal songs harkening back to their earlier works. The other being epic, more mid-tempo songs sounding more like their recent catalogue - as well as Demonaz's 2011 solo-outing.

The faster songs works really well, using a formula that Immortal has used countless times in the past. They employ a lot of the "thrashened" black metal sound that Immortal are known for, and do so well. Fast palm-muted riffs, tremolo picking, raspy vocals, and very blast-beaty drumming. For Immortal to stick with this formula clearly presented a bit of a problem, as it has been done almost to death in the past, both by Immortal and similar acts. The reason it works on this album is simply because it is done with an unrelentless energy, and conviction. You get the sensation when you listen to it that this comes from the heart, and that Immortal still wants to be relevant in the ever-growing world of black metal. And that is a statement in itself, as it would have been easy for Immortal to put out something sloppy, and still get attention and sales because of it (Read: Nuclear Blast). Still, they still spit out the grim and cold words of Blashyrkh with power and might.

As for the more "epic" tracks, they seem to draw a bit from some of the recent albums in Immortals discography. Also evident is, as mentioned earlier, Demonaz's March of the Norse solo album. These songs follow a more sweeping mid-tempo pace, with some spread-out acoustic work in between. While this is also a formula that has been used countless times by Immortal in the past, it really works well on this album, and they deliver the kind of majesty you often look for in those kind of tracks. The mentioned acoustic work often comes into play in the beginning of the songs, as well as in the middle - before some sort of change of direction in the song. One good example is in the track 'Mighty Ravendark', where about halfway through the acoustic guitar kicks in, followed by an absolute majestic section where the acoustic pattern blends with the distorted guitar and powerful raspy vocals, and makes the song erupt into an incredibly mighty hymn of Ravendark-worshipping. Beautiful.

As you've probably understood by now, the record is built mostly on familiar structures. This may put some people off, and some people not. To me it sounds fresh, powerful, and energetic, which is an achievement in itself after all these years.
It was make or break for Immortal, and especially Demonaz, on this one. Thankfully, I think it's safe to say that Immortal is back to stay, hopefully for many years to come.

Northern Chaos Gods wanted another holocaust - 89%

6CORPSE6GRINDER6, July 12th, 2018

This is easily the best record released by Immortal since “At the Heart of Winter”. Abbath’s departure paved the way for Demonaz to return to their original artistic direction, so this album is pretty much like Pure Holocaust with better production. The musical concept is naturally old school black metal, Norwegian style: haunting sense of harmony -never lowering it's tension regardless of the pace of the song- wicked arpeggios to decorate strident chord progression, cold atmospheres in slow passages and a fair share of extreme metal percussion brutality in fast parts too. The melodic facet of the band we heard on At the Heart of Winter was dismissed in the songwriting this time. Even though black metal has a wider sense of melody by definition (compared with the rest of the extreme music subgenres) in this record harmony is achieved mainly by open chords and arpeggios rather than traditional scraped melodic lead guitar lines.

The riffing in heavier parts is built upon fast palm mute picking, power chords and arpeggios; simple and effective, that's where the blast beats kick in. The album is full of short and direct songs, fast and aggressive. Obviously there are melancholic mid-paced sections like the album closer “Mighty Ravendark” (nine minutes long) that give contrast and variety to the album but I would say the first single “Northern Chaos Gods” is more representative of the album, ultra fast and mean. The drumming is top notch, not extremely technical but neatly executed despite the insane high tempos. The recording of the percussion was also done perfectly: the double bass drums, snare, toms and cymbals sound natural and acoustic. The performer dynamics were captured perfectly and not compressed at all, it's his playing what is mechanic, I love that.

Bass duties in this album were handled by Peter Tägtgren. Composition wise, bass guitar is a mere companion and there aren't any elaborated arrangements that make it stand out over the guitar riffs but the highly recognizable crunchy and bright sound of the pick hitting the strings and the strings hitting the fretboard they achieved makes it cut through the mix, adding presence to the bass track despite its simplicity. Guitars are heavily distorted as you can expect, acid but thick; pretty balanced. Vocals are mainly high pitched shrieks, traditional from black metal and are properly delivered. There's nothing here we've never heard before yet it's still extremely enjoyable and full of attitude and renewed energy.

A monument to themselves - 88%

Felix 1666, July 12th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Nuclear Blast (Limited edition, Digipak)

Immortal. A name that tears the silence apart. "Northern Chaos Gods". A thunderous promise of another icy load of black metal. So far, so good. However, comeback albums can be pretty ambivalent. Some yesterday's heroes have forgotten their roots, some other are caught in their own past and the most miserable clowns just want to make a quick buck by releasing a collection of lukewarm compositions under the banner of a once great name. Immortal, that's for sure, do not belong to those hordes that are heading for new shores. The album title and especially the song names nearly appear as a parody ("Grim and Dark", Into Battle Ride", "Called to Ice" and so on). But, and that's the crucial thing, they also avoid any form of misery with great ease. Moreover, the album does not lack highlights.

The ultra-aggressive title track sounds like thousands of whiplashes which are combined with the hoarse growling of a bulldog. No doubt, the "Battles in the North" are raging again and the chorus shines with recognition value, although it does not even possess the smallest form of a melody. "Mighty Ravendark" is the best and most powerful homage to the "Blood Fire Death"-art of Quorthon (R.I.P.) since the invention of Norwegian blackness. I admit that it lies in very close proximity to the title track of the Swedish role model's eponymous work, both in terms of musical approach and aesthetics. Yet even a slavish imitation would add value to the album, as long as it is well done, because Quorthon once set the bar very high. I further admit that this track sends shivers down my spine due to its fascinating vibes that mix triumph and grimness, its epic touch and the dramatic sequences that show up in abundance. The vocals, equipped with a massive reverb, reflect the coldness of the Northern winter landscapes and there can be no doubt that this mid-paced monument honours the imaginary home of the band in a worthy manner. "Gates to Blashyrkh", to give one last example, is a close relative of "Mighty Ravendark", even though it holds a few elements of "Tragedies Blows at Horizon" as well. Its rather relaxed tempo meets somewhat scary riffs and the good flow of the verses is remarkable as well.

Götz Kühnemund, the most popular and maybe most authentic German journalist has recently made an interview with the Norwegian duo. Among other things, Demonaz says that he has the feeling the album can open a new chapter in the history of the band. On the one hand, this is correct, because Immortal are back from the dead and "Northern Chaos Gods" shows both their unbroken attitude and their instinct for well designed songs which combine natural forces with clear structures and majestic feelings with sheer insanity. On the other hand, the statement of Demonaz could not be more improper, because Immortal present on the new album nothing but Immortal, Immortal, and, you guessed it, Immortal. They have not changed a iota of their way of proceeding. Honestly speaking, this is exactly what I expected (greetings to the previous reviewer Derimor_Moritur at this point) and any other sound would have been an incalculable risk for the band, their record company (money rules) and last but not least the fans. And even if we were living in a better world without commercial aspects: this is the kind of music that embodies the image of Immortal perfectly. And it is good to know that the metal community does not only have loyal fans, but also some loyal bands.

During the fastest sections, the marginally dull production appears as a blizzard - dense, ice-cold and stormy. During the other parts, the robust and powerful sound creates either a fierce or a gloomy aura. Sometimes I am not sure whether Blashyrkh is still an imagination. It seems as if it has become real over the last 25 years, at least this typical Blahyrhkhian sound. One can discuss whether or not Immortal have a unique status in the black scene, but their lyrical concept has always been unique, maybe slightly infantile at the beginning, but its consistent implementation deserves respect. Enough written. "Northern Chaos Gods" has everything it needs to reinforce the catalogue of the Scandinavians and, thank God, it has nothing in common with the erratic riffing of their nadir from 1997. It is a monument to themselves and a worthy comeback.

Appendix - thanks to a cold-blooded indiscretion, I already know the track list of their next album (scheduled for 2029):
"Demonaz Winter Battle / Storming Through Blashyrk and Holocaust Winds / Chaos of Northern Sons / Grim and Dark Part II / Drim and Gark Part I (lyrics in Blashyrkian) / Frostbitten, Twice Shy / Icy Ravenrealm Darkness / Kings of the Northern and Even More Northern Mountains".

Great times lie ahead!

Immortal being Immortal. - 85%

LycanthropeMoon, July 11th, 2018

When Demonaz and Horgh gave Abbath the boot (for understandable reasons in all honesty), I'll fully admit that I thought the band was done. I'm fully aware of the fact that Demonaz was a key songwriter in the early days and has written the lyrics for every single album, but it was just difficult imagining this band without its now iconic front man. After a rather disappointing, fairly dull solo album from the guy, I figured maybe I'd give the Abbathless incarnation of Immortal a fair shake. For one, I remembered something: All Shall Fall was kind of an uninspired disappointment itself. My expectations weren't all that high, but I was hoping for an album that was at least solid and fun to listen to.

Well, luckily, they delivered on that front. No, this thing isn't exactly innovative and it basically sounds like Immortal just being Immortal, but y'know what? That's fine, there's nothing wrong with that. I've always thought good songwriting was the most important thing - why force innovation on yourself? Either it'll come naturally to you or it won't, what matters is how well you put the music together. Some bands stand out by sheer songwriting quality alone (see: Enforcer, who wear their influences on their sleeves). This album is, in my view, one of those cases. The songs are vibrant and energetic, nothing on the fairly uninspired All Shall Fall can really be described that way to these ears.

You've got stuff like the album's title track, which brings back the sheer blasting brutality of Battles in the North and makes you wanna headbang until you break your neck. The track that immediately follows this, "Into Battle Ride", is much the same - speedy, fun-as-hell black metal...and its title just can't help but remind me of Into Glory Ride by Manowar, which I'm thinking is intentional. Those of you looking for epics in the style of At the Heart of Winter are in luck - "Mighty Ravendark", "Where Mountains Rise" and "Gates to Blashyrkh" certainly provide this. Essentially, this album is almost like a career retrospective. You'll hear stuff that makes you think of the older, rawer material and you'll hear stuff that'll bring to mind the epic thrash-influenced later albums. The one thing that appears to be missing is the blackened Morbid Angel stylings of Blizzard Beasts.

Oh, and Demonaz sounds feral and vicious on this album, something I certainly can't say about Abbath on the previous one. You can tell he put a lot of effort into his vocal performance. In some ways, he reminds me of the way Abbath sounded in the early 90s, though he's got his own thing going on most of the time. His guitar work is damn good too - makes me glad he recovered enough from his tendinitis to start playing again. Horgh's drumming is as reliably aggressive and tight as it's always been, no complaints there.

Despite a rather significant line-up change, Immortal appear to be in top shape. No, you won't hear anything particularly inventive here, but what you will get is a fun, fast-as-fuck piece of black metal from one of Norway's most influential bands. The loss of Abbath hasn't slowed these guys down at all, if anything it's revitalized them. Welcome back, sons of northern darkness!

Just what I wanted - 80%

Demiror_Moritur, July 9th, 2018

I have to start this review off by thanking the current incarnation of this band for putting this album out before even stating anything else. I have to say this is EXACTLY what I was aching to get from them after too many years of anxious expectation anticipating the next Immortal release since All Shall Fall in 2009. Not only have they returned to the very sound that catapulted the band to legendary status in their rough and cold beginnings, but they have effectively crushed any and all rumors about them not being able to pull such a stunt off without their previous notorious clown vocalist being among their ranks.

Having been able to see what direction Abbath decided to take on his solo debut, it becomes more than clear that the watered-down version of Immortal died with his timely departure, and Northern Chaos Gods is a pure, unadulterated, unfiltered, unapologetic return to form; a call to arms, which, without forgetting about the evolution the identity of the band has undergone throughout their releases and through the many years of existence, proves they can undoubtedly still be considered genuine and authentic by all real admirers of this sacred genre.

Almost every single musical element making an appearance in this album feels like it was dug straight out of the black metal playbook bands in the early Norwegian black metal scene were passing around and consequently pasted onto the album with great effectiveness and success, taking the form of an unstoppable, no-gimmick, relentless, cold, powerful record that showcases Immortal's truest non-colors after 9 years of quiet.

Without taking their venomous aggression or force to ridiculous or try-hard extents, this album sounds sober, mature, well-structured, and rich in its many shades of black. It's not shy of (very) brief calmer moments either, and these serve their purpose well by making the wrathful passages stand out in the overall layout of the album that much more. One of the most remarkable features of the record is that it doesn't really leave any real space for filler at all, something to be expected by bands which have nothing to prove, yet Immortal truly have outdone their previous self and used the little over 42 minutes of running time of Northern Chaos Gods well to bring savage black metal to the table, sounding as hungry and serious as ever.

This full-length is a good example of what black metal should sound like, and it's nice to see it released these days. As much as people might try to point out how easy it is for a band like this to reach this sound, therefore perhaps referring to this as a phoned-in effort, I believe a lot of effort and care has been put into this album, as natural and organic as it is, and it deserves to be praised for it, since this is the kind of material the heart of the genre can keep living on.

I'm honestly glad to witness how, regardless of who's behind it and how much time passes, Immortal really is as immortal as it gets.

Immortal - Northern Chaos Gods - 95%

Orbitball, July 9th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Nuclear Blast (Limited edition, Digipak)

This one is a combination of 'Blizzard Beasts' (blackened thrash metal), 'At The Heart of Winter' and 'All Shall Fall'. It haa total blackened thrash vibe to the whole album and Demonaz does a good job sounding like Abbath. A definitely great album, well decidedly that, an excellent effort. They have shown us something quite fresh and not to mention DARK. But what would you expect? It's Immortal, they're notorious for music that is grim and depressing. It's cool however, because their rhythm guitar is what's so strong about them and in this release it's a bit of a raw production sound. That's what takes it back to 'Blizzard Beasts' only it's not as raw.

I liked all the songs on here, so I can't single out one and say "listen to this one" or that one. It's all encompassing the whole album. The rhythms are mostly blackened thrash metal with some clean guitar with it, hence the resemblance also to 'At the Heart of Winter'. But this release has its own vibe to it with Demonaz doing the songwriting, surpassing his tendinitis that he suffered for a while and couldn't play. He's quite immaculate on here. The leads not as good as on 'Blizzard Beasts' but let's focus on the main guitar because that's where it's the strongest. I'd have to say that he did a fantastic job and the 9 year setback with no albums out since 'All Shall Fall' what a return!

Definitely a good thing that their tempos change, but not drastically. A wholly atmospheric album. And it's great Demonaz sounds like Abbath because that's what I always liked about Immortal, their vocals. It's totally dark, but it goes with the black metal genre they play. Only their form of black metal is with thrash metal guitar. These rhythms here are totally original and immaculate. Good that Horgh is still with the band behind the set. I always liked him and Peter via Hypocrisy was guest on the bass until they can find a permanent bassist. It's awesome Immortal has been around for so long. They really have done a service to the metal community for many years now.

The best part of the album are the guitars, both rhythm and clean. You might need to bump up the volume a bit to hear the rhythms though, exactly what they're playing. That is, if you're a guitarist or just a lover of music. The rhythms go well with the music. They really smoke, rather Demonaz does. If you want to see if you'll like the album first download it on Spotify. But otherwise, get the physical CD on Amazon because this is the best work they've done in years. And great that Demonaz is fixated on the guitar, too! Support music, their music by buying the album. I'm sure you'll love what they've done here. Quite an experience to hear this one!

At the heart of summer - 92%

Cosmic Mystery, July 8th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, 12" vinyl, Nuclear Blast (Limited edition, Gatefold)

As much as I appreciate Abbath's performance throughout his existence in Immortal, credit must be bestowed upon Demonaz for rivaling his contribution particularly on At The Heart of Winter and Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism. I mention those albums because Northern Chaos Gods sounds like a fusion of the two with more of the music throwing strong hints at their 1999 release. Upon receiving information that Immortal was in the process of recording a 2018 release, I was very pessimistic of how it would turn out. Though Demonaz' self titled band did impress me with March of The Norse, having to fulfill the duties of an absent Abbath and still overcome the task of making the album fit within the Immortal catalog would not be easy. I've had at least 3 thorough listening sessions of Northern Chaos Gods and it is with great disbelief that I'm at the point of comparing and ranking it against At The Heart of Winter and following releases. Though not better than the first 3 Immortal offerings in my opinion, they are still highly regarded in the Immortal archive. Demonaz has gone above and beyond with Northern Chaos Gods, he has encapsulated that recognizable Immortal feeling and even go as far as creating an entity that is better than At The Heart of Winter and All Shall Fall.

The music on Northern Chaos Gods immediately institutes the Immortal feeling so many supporters of the band love. This served of great importance where acquiring the trust of the legions is concerned; any diversion from what is expected could easily result in massive backfire and overwhelming negative feedback. As mentioned before, Demonaz is also involved with his solo project and the bigger issue being Abbath is no longer an active member of Immortal thus reinstating the importance of Demonaz' and Horgh's precise and careful undertaking. Preventing the album from echoing a Demonaz project/entry and bearing the burden of competing with Abbath vocally and instrumentally would prove to be two defining factors in the success of Northern Chaos Gods. All this could easily contribute to the demise of this latest release that has so much pressure leaning against it.

Speed is the primary focus of the opening moments on Northern Chaos Gods. No problem here; Horgh brings a blistering blast beat barrage that firmly affixes the staple blueprint of Immortal's aggressive technique. A moment is taken to paint the atmosphere and build the landscapes via "Gates to Blashyrkh". Once the pillars had fallen into their rightful places, the Immortal identity revealed itself whole-fully to the listener. During the time spent listening to the first half of the record, similarities amongst All Shall Fall, At the Heart of Winter and Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism presented themselves in an entwined manner. Some entries sound like a collaboration of past immortal songs such as, "Where Dark and Light Don't Differ", "The Call of The Wintermoon" and "Tragedies Blows At Horizon". Given its Summer at the time of listening to Northern Chaos Gods, the atmosphere emerging from the album is so strong that Winter felt ever so near and imminent; as though Autumn was approaching its departure. Vocally, Demonaz sounds like an undertone blend of Abbath on Immortal's 1992 debut full length release, Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism and arguably their most critically acclaimed album At The Heart of Winter. His guitar and vocal skills matched with Horgh's ability to blast away and to play along to mid tempo and mid paced sections with efficacy that licensed a resolute and comprehensive addition to the Immortal inventory. The sound quality on the album echoes At The Heart of Winter but with slightly improved clarity and a meaty bass tone. This production worked well and definitely finalized the output positively.

Northern Chaos Gods is certainly an album that can stand firmly amongst the best albums Immortal have accumulated. It will be a highly debatable album in terms of musical supremacy amongst metal critics, enthusiast and regular fans of the genre and band.

Originally written for
www.Metalbite.com