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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!