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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.

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