So as to reduce any suggestion of partisanship or impropriety, I’ll come out and say it immediately: I still have yet to find any work by Immortal that I can find tolerable, much less “good”. They are without a doubt my least favorite of the big 4 of Norwegian black metal – since I only like one of them anyway, that does mean something – and throughout their career, have done nothing but release album after album which I find either interminably boring at best or actively offensive at worst. I have a horrible relationship with the band and I’m still to this day incredulous that people actually enjoy Immortal unironically.
I can’t even pinpoint what it is about Immortal that I viciously hate so much apart from how feeble and also-ran all of their material is. Of the big 4, I enjoy Burzum but basically dislike almost everything by Mayhem and Darkthrone, but at the same time, it’s very easy for me to see how horrifically outclassed Immortal is by the even the weakest outputs of Mayhem and Darkthrone.
Does anyone really make the argument that Immortal can stand up to any other major black metal band from the ’90s on a musical level? Burzum obliterates all of Immortal’s attempts at atmosphere, Mayhem murders them on a technical level, Darkthrone runs them in circles around their own mediocrity, and even Phantom robs them of the crown of pure songwriting capability.
So what does that leave Immortal with? A ton of irritating ninth-string “blackened” thrash metal albums solely remembered and listened to by the same sort of people who are convinced Watain will turn it around one day and play actual black metal rather than flaccid metalcore.
Immortal do nothing, the only thing they ever influenced were the worst and dumbest parts of black metal, and they’ve contributed nothing to the black metal scene today apart from Demonaz chewing the scenery on VH1 specials.
With that out of the way, I guess the most important thing to state about “Pure Holocaust” is really that it’s more of a blackened speed/thrash metal album than a straight black metal record. The influence from NWOBHM and old school speed metal is palpable, with both Bathory and Slayer a clearly relevant part of the whole package
My interest in this is purely historical and my prejudices against this style of blackened speed metal are well known, so don’t take my opinions as anything impartial. Still, though, I can only guess as to what others hear in stuff like this – maybe this was good enough back in 1993 – though I doubt it as both Burzum and Darkthrone were releasing masterpiece after masterpiece during the same period – but we’re definitely past this now. Just about anything from the same era is better than “Pure Holocaust”.