Immortal, an indomitable power in the realm of black metal, has entranced audiences and inspired innumerable artists with their distinct amalgamation of eerie ambiance, ferocity, and originality since their inception in the 1990s. They are poised to unveil their upcoming album titled ‘War Against All’ on May 26th, 2023, which will be released through Nuclear Blast Records. Their tenth studio album will boast eight fresh tracks that encapsulate the iconic Immortal sound.
Emerging from the frosty terrains of Bergen, Norway, Immortal was founded by Olve Eikemo (more commonly known as Abbath Doom Occulta), who assumed the roles of lead vocalist, bassist, and guitarist, and Harald Nævdal (also called Demonaz Doom Occulta), who played guitar. Gerhard Herfindal (a.k.a. Armagedda) joined the duo as their drummer. Originally named Amputation, the group ultimately adopted the moniker Immortal, inspired by the bleak and wintry seasons of their homeland.
Over the course of almost thirty years, Immortal has created a discography that encompasses nine albums, with each entry demonstrating the band’s skill in adapting and innovating within the genre. With a reputation for their ominous and moody sound, Immortal has incorporated components of both thrash and Viking metal into their traditional black metal style, forging a unique musical identity that has left an indelible imprint on the annals of heavy metal history.
Immortal’s impact and originality are not limited to their own discography but extend throughout the broader spectrum of the black metal genre. Their contribution to the evolution and metamorphosis of black metal over the past thirty years has been substantial. Immortal’s successful fusion of Viking and thrash metal components into their music has been a source of inspiration for numerous bands seeking to experiment with new styles and sonorities within the black metal framework. Their steadfastness and flexibility have established a model for other artists who face difficulties and lineup changes, illustrating that creativity and artistic integrity can flourish even amidst hardship.
In addition, Immortal’s dedication to crafting enigmatic and ominous soundscapes has played a crucial role in defining the unique character of Norwegian black metal, setting it apart from other regional movements within the genre. As Immortal’s influence and legacy continue to shape the future of extreme music, their impact will not only be felt through the bands they directly inspire but also through the ongoing evolution and diversification of the genre.
Immortal’s discography spans nearly three decades and encompasses nine full-length albums that have shaped and defined the black metal genre. Each album marks a significant stage in the band’s development, demonstrating their growth as musicians and their aptitude for adaptation and innovation.
In 1991, Immortal unveiled their debut demo, ‘The Northern Upins Death,’ which showcased their raw and unrefined black metal sound. The demo garnered the attention of the French record label Osmose Productions, who subsequently signed the band and released their debut album, ‘Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism,’ in 1992. The album introduced drummer Erik Brødreskift (a.k.a. Grim), who replaced Armagedda in the lineup.
Immortal’s first album, ‘Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism,’ epitomizes the primal and unpolished inception of the band’s signature sound. Published through Osmose Productions, the album features seven tracks that merge the chilly, atmospheric components of black metal with the ferocity of thrash. Tracks such as ‘Call of the Wintermoon’ and ‘A Perfect Vision of the Rising Northland’ exhibit the band’s aptitude for generating immersive and ominous soundscapes that evoke the frigid landscapes of their Norwegian heritage. Despite the relatively lo-fi production, the album’s sound and overall aura of darkness are only augmented.
Immortal’s second album, ‘Pure Holocaust,’ released in 1003, is frequently hailed as a landmark in the black metal genre. Building on the foundation established by their debut, the band honed their sound, incorporating swiffer tempos, more intricate guitar work, and a heightened sense of melody. Tracks like ‘Unsilent Storms in the North Abyss’ and ‘As the Eternity Opens’ highlight the album’s relentless ferocity and underscore the band’s maturation as musicians. ‘Pure Holocaust’ not only reinforced Immortal’s position as a pioneering force in the Norwegian black metal movement but also inspired countless bands that followed in their footsteps.
With ‘Battles in the North,’ released in 1995, Immortal continued their progression, placing a greater emphasis on atmosphere and integrating blast beats into their sound. The album’s cover art, which features a snow-covered landscape, mirrors the icy and barren soundscapes that pervade tracks like ‘Grim and Frostbitten Kingdoms’ and ‘Cursed Realms of the Winterdemons.’ The production on this album is particularly unrefined, lending it a more savage and frenzied quality than its predecessors. ‘Battles in the North’ reinforced Immortal’s renown for creating engrossing and atmospheric black metal.
Nonetheless, the band encountered a significant change in their lineup when drummer Grim departed, and was replaced by Horgh (Reidar Horghagen). This formation would remain constant throughout the latter part of the 1990s and the early 2000s.
‘Blizzard Beasts,’ released in 1997, signaled a shift for Immortal, as they commenced integrating components of thrash metal into their sound. The album showcases quicker and more vicious guitar work, with a greater emphasis on rhythmic intricacy. Tracks like ‘Nebular Ravens Winter’ and ‘Suns That Sank Below’ typify this fresh direction, underlining the band’s capacity to blend genres while preserving their characteristic atmospheric style. ‘Blizzard Beasts’ demonstrated Immortal’s openness to experimentation and their inclination to push the limits of black metal.
‘At the Heart of Winter,’ released in 1999, saw Immortal embracing Viking metal influences, giving rise to a more grandiose and melodious sound. The album features more extended and intricate compositions, like the title track and ‘Tragedies Blows at Horizon.’ The production is also particularly refined, resulting in a more polished and dynamic listening encounter. ‘At the Heart of Winter’ is frequently regarded as a pinnacle in Immortal’s discography and has inspired innumerable bands within the black and Viking metal movements.
With ‘Damned in Black,’ released in 2020, Immortal continued to delve into Viking metal influences that were introduced on ‘At the Heart of Winter,’ while also integrating elements of death metal. The album features songs like ‘Wrath from Above’ and ‘Damned in Black,’ which exhibit a more robust and aggressive sound, combined with the band’s characteristic atmospheric elements. The production on the album is potent and refined, enabling a more dynamic listening experience. ‘Damned in Black’ reaffirmed Immortal’s aptitude for innovation and pushing the limits of black metal.
‘Sons of Northern Darkness’ is widely recognized as one of Immortal’s most iconic and accessible albums. Released through Nuclear Blast Records in 2002, the album strikes a perfect equilibrium between black, Viking, and thrash metal influences. Tracks like ‘One by One’ and ‘Tyrants’ highlight the band’s capacity for crafting grandiose, melodious compositions with potent riffs and memorable hooks. The production on the album is outstanding, with a clear and well-balanced sound that accentuates the intricate musicianship. ‘Sons of Northern Darkness’ received critical acclaim and commercial success, making it a pinnacle in Immortal’s career.
In 2003, Demonaz was diagnosed with acute tendinitis, which ultimately resulted in his departure from the band as a guitarist. Despite leaving, he continued to contribute to Immortal as their primary lyricist. The band subsequently went on hiatus, with Abbath and Horgh pursuing various side projects.
Immortal reassembled in 2006, with Abbath and Horgh joined by bassist Apollyon (Ole Jørgen Moe). In 2009, the band released their long-awaited comeback album, ‘All Shall Fall,’ which marked a triumphant return to form. The band continued to blend black, Viking, and thrash metal components, resulting in tracks like ‘All Shall Fall’ and ‘The Rise of Darkness.’ The album’s production is modern and potent, resulting in a polished and grandiose sound. ‘All Shall Fall’ was warmly received by both fans and critics, demonstrating that Immortal could continue to produce high-quality music despite their time away from the scene.
In 2015, Abbath announced his departure from Immortal, citing personal and legal disputes with the other members. He subsequently established a solo project under his own name, while Demonaz and Horgh proceeded as Immortal.
In a surprising turn of events, Demonaz made a comeback as the band’s guitarist and took over lead vocals, despite his prior tendinitis diagnosis. The reinvigorated Immortal, now operating as a duo, inked a deal with Nuclear Blast Records and unveiled their ninth studio album, ‘Northern Chaos Gods,’ in 2018, marking a fresh chapter in Immortal’s history.
‘Northern Chaos Gods’ finds the band returning to their raw and aggressive black metal origins while preserving the melodic and atmospheric components of their later releases. Tracks such as ‘Northern Chaos Gods’ and ‘Mighty Ravendark’ highlight the band’s aptitude for crafting intense and potent music, even with a new lineup. The album garnered positive reviews from both fans and critics, demonstrating Immortal’s tenacity and lasting significance in the black metal genre, while also proving that the band could continue to thrive without Abbath’s involvement.
Demonaz is the mastermind behind the composition and performance of ‘War Against All,’ with some session musicians contributing to the record, just as in previous Immortal albums. The album was produced by Arve Isdal and recorded at Conclave & Earshot Studio in Bergen, Norway, under the supervision of Herbrand Larsen and Arve Isdal.
Immortal’s odyssey through the chronicles of black metal history is characterized by lineup shifts, stylistic transformations, and an unwavering commitment to their artistry. From their inception in the frigid and desolate terrain of Bergen, Norway, to their ongoing success in the face of hardship, Immortal has cemented their position as one of the most influential and enduring bands in the genre. Their discography stands as a testimony to their musical excellence, and their influence on the black metal scene is indubitable. Immortal’s legacy will undoubtedly continue to shape the future of extreme metal for years to come.