War Against All

I do not purport to be an expert on all things Immortal, the long-standing Norwegian Black Metal band, but I do have some interesting things to share, probably more opinions than anything else, before delving into the band’s 10th album, War Against All.

Until now I only followed the band from 1992-1996, so that is the band’s first three albums.  The band’s second album, in 1993, Pure Holocaust, is still one of my favorite black metal albums, still to this day.  It had the ferocity and energy of Darkthrone’s second album, A Blaze in the Northern Sky, IMO.  Battles in the North, the third album, is a lot of fun, but golly gee, the drumming is all sorts of a mess and very sloppy, but, I still enjoy the album.  I can remember in the beginning stages of my fronting Internal Bleeding, in the 90’s my bandmates would rip on me for the black metal in my collection, but I still listened to it, regardless of the opinions, but we had many entertaining conversations and I’ll leave it at that.

Then I honestly lost track of the band and the line-up shifts with Abbath leaving and then Demonaz taking the band on his own.  He is now a one band, but I imagine he has session musicians to play live.  So while playing guitars he also took on full vocal duties some years ago and as for the drums on this album, no drummer is listed, even in the investigations I did I am betting a drum machine was used on this album, however they are well programmed.  I did some spot-checking of Immortal’s other recent albums and came away with it as a pretty positive listening experience and while some of the albums are samey and better than others, I’m thinking maybe I’ll look into their other albums a little more closely, because War Against All is some pretty raging black metal, played with an improved precision and skill then their early 90’s output.  But again, with what appears to be a drum machine on this new album, of course it’s going to be tighter.

8 songs in 38 minutes is the perfect amount of time for brutal black metal, because the music is so over the top fast, anything longer literally is overkill.  But when you get all the different genres of black metal, like: folk black metal, atmospheric black metal, emotive black metal, post black metal then you’re looking at albums ranging from 45 minutes to way over an hour.  This is none of those sub-genres and the title track starts with the proverbial Holy Shit moment right off the bat as this song blasts out the starting gates, with no warning.  It’s devastating and listen to this on a good sound system-this is crystal clear black metal and as stated above, played with much precision.  Tight AF.  Demonaz has good black metal vocals.  Raspy and a bit mid-range, at times and at over 50 can still belt out some high register rasps-very well done.  A little past the mid-way point we are even treated to a nifty little guitar solo before it’s off to the races again with the blasts.  The main guitar riff, is surprisingly catchy.  Cool harmonies and there is a lot going on with the screams and blasts and riffage.  The ending is full-throttle choke-slam through the ground type of brutality.

So suffice to say once I started this album up I was like…”well honk my hooter”, now I realized why I liked Immortal’s first several albums.  “Wargod” slows things down a bit and I do notice a Bathory style guitar tone-think the 2 extraordinary Nordland albums, with that fuzzy guitar tone and that is what I am feeling on this album, especially this track.  While slow, it’s a moody number and heavy.  Pretty darn impressive.  Maybe this is some of the style Immortal have done, after the albums, I first listened to and own, so this is new for me to hear.  Some atmospherics and this track hits pretty darn hard.  Demonaz sounding eerily similar to the late great Quorthon, from Bathory, and this is maybe why I am really enjoying the vocals.  One of the other reasons I really like this song, is the band did not need to rip into a lightning blast and keep the pace slow and steady and it breaks up the album a bit.  If Immortal are planning on playing live, this must be in their live set.  It’s the perfect throw up your horns headbanging number that will win the crowd over in a big way.  I would wedge this fucker in the middle of their live setlist, for sure.

My dear readers, you all know how much I dislike instrumentals on albums.  Honestly, if you’re not Maiden/Sabbath/Priest/ Scorpions/Metallica/Obscura – I really do not want to hear an instrumental, they come across as filler, but what do I know?  “Nordlandihr”, at over 7 minutes, is the longest song and is an instrumental.  The piece is too long, and I do feel with the atmospheric moments and even the progressive side of things, vocals would have been a home run on this song.  There is an emotive aspect I am picking up that, makes me enjoy this instrumental, far more than I should. Honestly –  vocals on this song, even throwing in some clean/aria-style vox, would have gone over well, especially over the traditional guitar solo at around the 4-minute mark.  “Blashyrkh My Throne” ends the album and has a very nice atmospheric build-up before a pace, similar to “Wargod”, comes barreling towards us.  This song is quite expansive and is a bit samey to “Wargod”, but the riffs do breathe a lot in this song.  This is an excellent album closer.  There are other slower moments on the album, like this, but plenty of faster numbers, like the “Immortal” band named track and “No Sun”, all rippers.

The album cover is fun with the demon ice mountain face and the stark colors.  As previously mentioned, the production is great; clear and crisp.  The guitar work is impressive and I came away from this album enjoying how catchy it truly is.  The music is on the trebly side, but the production still has a full sound to it.  I do not find this sterile either, which brutal black metal can conjure up, but with Immortal mixing in those slower and heavier moments, really takes this style to the next level.  I am happy to once again dip back into the Immortal pool of blasphemy.  Killer shit!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
May 22nd, 2023


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