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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Immortal

All Shall Fall

Review by Mike Korn

Immortal has emerged as one of those iconic bands that defines a certain sound. I would put them in the same category as Black Sabbath or Slayer. There is absolutely no mistaking them for anyone else. All Shall Fall sees them returning from a 7 year hiatus with no battle rust whatsoever. This is another titanic offering of frozen epic metal in the vein of Sons of Northern Darkness and At The Heart of Winter.

I can see why many apply the black metal tag to these guys, but I think it is only a loose affiliation. Sure, they have the black and white war paint, the fixation with axes and swords and an abundance of spiked leather gear, but the music of Immortal has nothing to do with blasphemy or unrelenting hatred. Rather, it is the sonic personification of a kind of god-like majesty found only in mythology and tales of old. There is nothing really "modern" about Immortal...the band and their tunes seem to emanate from another, much larger world.

If you're not afraid of music that sounds as huge and vast as the glaciers of Antarctica, zip up your parka and prepare to venture into the icy wilderness dominated by these warriors from the forgotten realm of Blashrykh.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
All Shall Fall
The album opens with the grinding of what sounds like gigantic steel gates. Then a blast of fast majestic riffing in Immortal style crashes in. The guitar sound is dry and crisp, not as "heavy" as usual. Abbath's croaking vocals are as troll-like as ever, though. There's a slow break that builds back up into a wall of guitar, with an echoing mechanical voice speaking unintelligibly over it. The different guitar sound here takes some getting used to, but the style is still the epic, raging Immortal we are used to.
The Rise of Darkness
This killer track breaks down the doors like the iron boot of an invading Viking. Fast and burly, I love the jangly but thick guitar tone.  Anybody who loved cuts like "One by One" and "Within the Dark Mind" from Sons of Northern Darkness will fall to their knees in worship upon hearing this.
Hordes To War
If "The Rise To Darkness" was the call to battle, then this song is nothing less than all-out war itself. Thrashing and angry, this is Immortal at their most aggressive and it has hints of their earliest days. It’s a headbanging classic to make the blood boil!
Norden On Fire
This starts with very cool Viking sounding guitar riffs drenched in effects but soon transforms into a mid-paced monster bursting with those huge majestic chords only Immortal seems to know how to create.  It just sounds so massive and gigantic....very much in the vein of Sons of Northern Darkness or even old Bathory classics like Shores In Flame.  Even the mellower break has a soaring aura to it. Abbath's vocals are more troll-like than normal here.
Arctic Swarm
The track lives up to its title. It sounds like a cloud of ice locusts hungry for flesh descending upon you in a deadly blizzard. It's another fast and thrashy cut with a jagged and angular feel to the riffing. The solo is one of the craziest I've heard this year!
Mount North
A powerful bass riff by new boy Apollyon kicks this one off. For my money, this is the best of show. It just defines the word "EPIC".  The riff on the chorus is beyond crushing with its massive heaviness and again Abbath's croaks are the perfect accompaniment. I can visualize the armies of Middle Earth clashing with the forces of Sauron while this booms down from the heavens.
Unearthly Kingdom
Speaking of huge, this lengthy monster brings the album to a close. It starts with soothing but ominous atmosphere like a movie soundtrack and gives way to a deliberately paced and very heavy marching tempo.  When the speed picks up, it's a breath-taking moment. This is a magnificently balanced track that moves effortlessly through many different feels. Although I can't say it is my absolute favorite Immortal song, I don't think any other tune demonstrates their artistry so well.
 
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