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Immortal - Northern Chaos Gods Award winner

Northern Chaos Gods
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 23 July 2018, 7:01 AM

IMMORTAL’s ninth full length album, “Northern Chaos Gods,” is probably the most anticipated Metal album of the year for many reasons. Much like there was between “Sons of Northern Darkness,” and “All Shall Fall,” there was a huge gap between this one and the latter.  Not having released an album in nine years is a big enough deal of its own but this is also the first full length without the participation of Abbath, who was the band’s longtime song writer in addition to lending his hands to bass, guitars, and even drums over the years. On top of all that, another original member, Demonaz, has returned to the fold for his first appearance on an IMMORTAL record in 21 years.  He often provided lyrics for the band even after he left but this time he is doing vocals and guitars.

Although I haven’t heard the solo Abbath album, I am very familiar with IMMORTAL so I was somewhat hesitant before loading the album up.   My worries were put to bed the exact second I pushed play on the very first, and title, track, “Northern Chaos Gods.” Despite such a long time between albums, Demonaz has lost none of his edge, both in guitar tone and song writing.  It is almost as if Demonaz picked up right where he left them. Indeed, it was made very apparent to me that the album comes across as an early 90’s Black Metal record but with modern trappings.

The production, for example, does exhibit a rawness that most other bands wouldn’t go near but thanks to Peter Tagtgren’s impeccable production, it has enough evil punch in its clarity to satisfy even the most anal and true Black Metal  audiophiles.  In addition to production duties, he also provided the bass guitar as a session musician.  With HYPOCRISY and BLOODBATH a part of his very large discography, Peter is no stranger to extreme Metal; his frantic fretwork across the bass neck proves he has lost none of own abilities outside of the producer’s chair. The songwriting is more modern in its leanings as well.  Unlike a lot of Black Metal, it isn’t the same riff over and over again.  Every time I listen to this album, there is a new riff, bass line, or snare hit that I missed. It isn’t progressive by any means but it definitely isn’t one dimensional.

Demonaz himself is in fine form; his vocals are a higher pitched rasp reminiscent of Ihsahn (EMPEROR) and early Danny  Filth. “Into the Battle Ride,” displays him playing real riffs that have weight and meaning to them instead of constant tremolo picking. It wouldn’t be an IMMORTAL album without a song dedicated to anything frozen or ice; the fifth track “Called to Ice,” is a frenzied song that is as cold as a really cold thing. The guitar and drums in between the verses are definitely among the best the band has come up with in years. Horgh’s drums are spot on, playing off the rhythm of the guitars well while coming up with frozen paths on their own to travel; he simultaneously backs up the rhythm of the song while creating interesting parts of his own.

Blacker of Worlds,” is one of the most furious Black Metal tracks I’ve heard in some time and captures a lot of the magic the genre seems to lose focus on at times.  It is the shortest track on the album and packs quite the punch in that time.  The next, and final, track is the exact opposite.  It is almost triple the length and doesn’t start in an unbridled fury. The beginning is clean instrumentation that builds up a chilling atmosphere in a methodical layer of darkness. At 3:57, the song suddenly turns back to a similar structure that doesn’t take away from the momentum but adds another level of excitement because it builds up to a scream by Demonaz and a stellar performance from HorghIMMORTAL are a legendary band and it is amazing they have weathered such changes and came out stronger.  I know I will probably be mailed dead goats and virgin babies from troo and klvt Black Metal fans for what I’m about to say but here it is:  “Northern Chaos Gods,” is the best IMMORTAL album.  Come at me, bro.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Northern Chaos Gods
2. Into Battle Ride
3. Gates To Blashyrkh
4. Grim And Dark
5. Called To Ice
6. Where Mountain Rise
7. Blacker of Worlds
8. Mighty Ravendark
Demonaz – Vocals, Guitar
Horgh – Drums
Peter Tagtgren – Bass (Session)
Record Label: Nuclear Blast


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