Immortal – War Against All (Album Review)

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Immortal – War Against All (Album Review)

The word Immortal these days is reincarnation. Long ago torn apart by the weight of internal conflict, the Norwegian Black Metal masters are back with a new album five years ago under the leadership of Harald Naevdal, who is known in dull circles like Demonaz. Co-founder of one of the founding groups of the second wave, Demonaz continues the conspiracy in his second effort as the sole leader of Immortal. Released on May 26, 2023 via Nuclear Blast Records, War Against All It seeks to further consolidate this post-splitting legacy. In a saturated market that has seen Black Metal expand its wings even further, including the significant success of his former bandmate’s solo career, War Against All achieve their goals?

In the eyes of fans and critics “damn if he does, damn if he doesn’t”, old bands like Immortal don’t face easy choices when it comes to new material. Had Demonaz continued Immortal’s name and changed its aesthetic, lyrical and musical approach, it would have been labeled a bestseller or downright disingenuous. Keep it right and there will be those who think it lacks imagination. The album does not suffer from any of these issues, as it brings us solidly to the mythical world known as Blashkyrh. The surroundings are familiar, but the voice in the wind carries its own melody.

It’s immediately clear that Demonaz isn’t interested in taking the job lightly. “War Against All” and “Thunders of Darkness” showcase the hyper-speed snowstorm and darkness permeating the Immortal signature sound. The second song brings to mind the perfect marriage of the epic and the triumphant with the hellish pace that defined 1999. In the Heart of Winter.

Not one to crowd out an album with too much track time or too many songs, Demonaz also manages to avoid the heavy nature of some of the slower numbers on the late Immortal albums before Abbath left. “Wargod” may appear on the air puppet master It was Metallica with its repetitive heavy central riff. The quiet strumming, distortion pedal provides a nice pivot in the middle of the song; followed by a release of tension that quickly marries the increase in pace. Frankly, this song is much more engaging and dynamic than previous slower Immortal songs that got nowhere.

Immortal manages to turn Scandinavian weather reports into top-notch Black Metal songs, as “No Sun” once again showcases Demonaz’s absolutely nasty guitar tone. Enslaved superstars Herbrand Larsen and Arve Isdal’s rich, stingy but in itself gorgeous studio work is spectacular. The involvement of the old Bergen gang ensures that this album is handled with love and expertise. Listen to the last half minute of this song – Black Metal’s ’90s old heart is on display and beating in your eardrums in all its glory.

“Return To Cold” is less impactful, the closest material to the cover on the album. Riffs have a tried-and-true feel, but Demonaz can feel like he’s mimicking his former bandmate’s style a little too much. If we go on, however, a rare case arises – this is an instrumental song called “Nordlandhr”. That makes up seven minutes of a thirty-eight-minute album, so it wasn’t considered an afterthought. Breathtaking, dominating and melancholy; It is clear that Demonaz’s blessed untendinitis-stricken hands are in magnificent form. Soaring leadership abounds as this heavy effort unfolds like a primeval stretch of Norwegian forest. Although not included in the composer’s croaking, it’s arguably the best song on the album and possibly the best Immortal song since the aforementioned. In the Heart of Winter. It’s that good.

What better way to follow the epic than with a song of the same name that combines a mid-tempo triumph with a revealing boom-stroke section in the chorus? To Close “Blashyrkh My Throne” goes back to 1995s Wars in the North with his proud mid-pace gait. It’s hard to imagine how Demonaz could honor his legacy more than he did with this brilliant follow-up effort. That’s why Cryptic Rock gives War Against All 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Immortal – War Against All / Nuclear Explosion Records (2023)

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