Immortal - "At the Heart of Winter"

Immortal – “At the Heart of Winter”

Immortal - "At the Heart of Winter"

Immortal – “At the Heart of Winter”

What is this gay mock Iron Maiden speed/heavy metal hybrid turd and why is it being promoted as black metal when it clearly has more in common with Judas Priest than with Darkthrone?

Both “Pure Holocaust” and “Battles in the North” are overrated beyond belief, but at least they somewhat resembled black metal music, albeit on a very superficial level only. That is not the case with “At the Heart of Winter” – an album so bland and turdish it gives Gorgoroth and war metal a run for their money.

The third-rate Phantom clone riffs featured on “Pure Holocaust”  funneled by almost minimalist arrangements give way to standard groove heavy and Metallica inspired speed metal. Now complete with nursery level rhymes for karaoke while you angrily contemplate on taking over your local church (not for burning! as Abbath and Demonaz clearly stated repeatedly). These chugs will put you in the right mood to drink your third can of Monster energy drink before your huge fortnite session. At least glam rockers Pantera had something to prove and could make decent lite Metallica when they didn’t mosh to their breakdowns.

This is “black metal” for people who hate black metal. How can such a contradiction exist, you ask? One word – posers, and their “king” and “queen” Abbath and Demonaz. Talk about a “pink mafia” in black metal.

Where is the black metal? Where is the atmosphere? Where is the evil in the music? That is the one question the listener immediately asks when confronted with the turd “At the Heart of Winter.” Say what you want about other early Norwegian “posers” like Enslaved and Satyricon, they at least could write actual black metal music. Immortal, not so much.

“At the Heart of Winter” is plastic speed metal/glam rock of the Iron Maiden meets Pantera variety that the underground hates, as it both tarnishes black metal and actual heavy metal and glam rock.

This beats Watain, sure, but not by much.

Immortal - "Battles in the North"

Immortal – “Battles in the North”

Immortal - "Battles in the North"

Immortal – “Battles in the North”

This fucking sucks.

It’s not as though anyone takes Immortal seriously, and I don’t think even they would even if Demonaz wasn’t a cuckold whose sister was getting banged by Abbath behind his back for 7 years before both members “severed ties” (that type of cuckoldry comes with an obligatory sense of self-derision lest you pass for an actual effete), but in all honesty this album “Battles in the North” is just so fucking lame I feel the need to express to it to the world.

On “Battles in the North” Immortal makes me think of a band who wanted to do a “Deathcrush” knock-off but with better production, Darkthronian blast-beats and Burzum’s riffing style but just stumpled into a latter-era Satyricon album instead with even more immature imagery.

About half the material on here is really fucking tedious black-and-roll shit with blasting drums, strummed riffs, and Abbath just sort of puking all over everything with his typically weak, effete vocal performance, and the other half is composed of terrible reinterpretations of “Transilvanian Hunger” tremolo riffs without a tenth of the passion or intensity. It’s just awful.

Have you ever heard a production job which made you think the sound engineer responsible just knew that this was the sort of album to phone in? It’s remarkably half-assed, as is everything on “Battles in the North”.

It’s as though the producer almost bothered to try, but after an hour of tracking realized it would fall on deaf ears as the music is so boring anyway. It may originally have been a Christian idiom, but “pearls before swine” seems universal in its application, as Immortal discovered.

Yeah, the production is sort of quiet and unassuming – the guitars, while very low-fi and buzzing, have no real bite and the drums and vocals are soft and rounded off. It fits the music, which is equally tepid and worthless, mostly content to just stagger around a bunch of bland and generic tremolo passages that sound a great deal like if Six Feet Under was imitating black metal instead of death. In short, this has no redeeming qualities and shouldn’t be listened to by anyone.

From “Pure Holocaust” to “Northern Chaos Gods“, nothing Immortal has been involved with has ever been worth more than a cringe.

Go listen to “Locked up in Hell” or “Verminlust” rather than this tedious and boring shit.

Immortal - "Pure Holocaust".

Immortal – “Pure Holocaust”

Immortal - "Pure Holocaust".

Immortal – “Pure Holocaust”.

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”.