Immortal
All Shall Fall

The anticipation level is high, adrenal glands working overtime, then the first song starts…. I find my mind wandering and playing “Cryptic Winterstorms” internally, so hit stop, pull up Diabolical, listen in its entirety, put All Shall Fall back on and hit play, now where were we… halfway through the first song I have the urge for a Battles in the North playback, hit stop, pull up Battles…I know the press releases were touting a return to 1997, but I didn’t really believe them. That Immortal vibe is there on All Shall Fall, but listening to this new disc should inspire me to listen to it, not the back catalog.

This disc I’d compare to Unleashed’s Hell’s Unleashed. After a lengthy absence a band that never should have disbanded reforms and pops out a disc showcasing their rusty instruments and brains. Immortal, another band that should never have disbanded, does a little better on the initial post reformation salvo. All Shall Fall does not refer to the Immortal bandmates falling flat on their faces, thankfully. The significant fact is that Immortal is back, not the overall lack of quality of the album. First and foremost, all is right in the universe again, Immortal is back, who cares if they didn’t return to Blizzard Beasts form and are still stuck in the post Demonaz on guitar phase. All Shall Fall kinda sucks but I’m willing to overlook that in light of the bigger picture, Immortal is back, and the album doesn’t suck badly.

All in all I’m just left with a headache from over-thinking all the possibilities left unachieved, a letdown that will just make honorable mention on my year end list, mostly because it succeeds at one major thing, it stands on its own and reminds me of Immortal, not of a scattering of other bands. But what of the music? It is kind of pastoral for an end of the world scenario, but then if it is something to look forward to (the end of the world), why get overly angry and wrought about it, sing the praises of the end of the world, no worries be happy. But if this is the clarion call for all to fall I’ve been listening to it for a week now and I’m still waiting for Malekith to open the cask of ancient winters. Many times over this past half decade I’ve contemplated opening the cask myself to bring about Immortal’s return.

Black metal is not about hate or depression or war or persecution, but about living in the ancient ways and customs, the folkish past, reveling in the forces beyond our own. Of course black metal bands, just like death or thrash or doom, can also write about topical issues like hate and persecution, so long as the worldview is not lost in the presentation and imagery, which brings me back to Immortal, and the sense of place so vital to black metal. This disc, like all Immortal discs preceding it, screams Scandinavia, the mountains come alive, the winds carry thoughts and hopes and the winter itself is the catalyst of dreams and fears.

Immortal gets it; black metal’s core tenant is a belief in the old mythic worldview instead of the modern scientific one, “supernatural” beings, a living nature, the forces of nature are alive and the lore of the folk is real and relevant, it is not superstition from an ignorant age but a wider understanding and closer kinship to the natural world. To go back to the word supernatural, actually a misnomer because all these beings we share the world with are very much a part of nature and not separate from nature, thus are inherently natural, not supernatural, but anyway, this mindset is widely held among black metal legions and can be traced back through the ages through Mercyful Fate and beyond but for many it is Immortal, and their personification of winter, the reality of the Scandinavian wilds, and their dedication to presenting it that brought this ancient worldview to the awareness of the wider metal audience.

Favorite songs would be the last three.  Some fine guitar noodling on “Arctic Swarm”, reinforcing how joyous an occasion the onset of eternal winter is, stand out, as does “Mount North”, with the cool bass lines. “Unearthly Kingdom”, definitely one worth a close listen, is suitably ominous at the start with a slow build, the vocals cut in low and slow and you are carried along with no need for any leads. When guitars and drums finally speed up a bit they get much heavier as well, then faint guitar leads weave through adding to the ominous edge. A nice folkish break opens the gate with great raspy narration before the heaviness kicks back in. It is still hard for me to imagine Immortal as anything other than a speed band, but here it is, the slowest song on the disc and it is my favorite. It would actually fit in exceedingly well on Sons of Northern Darkness, think “Tyrants.” In all honesty I’m looking forward to the next full length. I’m excited about Immortal again. Check out the box set, the bag set, the digipack and the vinyl, along with other choice goodies from Nuclear Blast.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Grimulfr
October 12th, 2009

Comments

  1. Commented by: emperorjvl

    This review sucks. Overlong, off on tangents, little discussion of the actual material. I think I should stop reading Grimulfr’s reviews. Album, for me, is fine but not as catchy as the preceding 2. I’ll give it more time.


  2. Commented by: timshel

    Why does a mythic worldview have to clash with a scientific one?


  3. Commented by: Timmy

    Great album. Immortal didn’t miss a beat. Don’t know what all these ramblings are about.


  4. Commented by: gabaghoul

    “Black metal is not about hate of depression or war or persecution, but about living in the ancient ways and customs, the folkish past, reveling in the forces beyond our own. Of course black metal bands, just like death or thrash or doom, can also write about topical issues like hate and persecution, so long as the worldview is not lost in the presentation and imagery, which brings me back to Immortal, and the sense of place so vital to black metal. This disc, like all Immortal discs preceding it, screams Scandinavia, the mountains come alive, the winds carry thoughts and hopes and the winter itself is the catalyst of dreams and fears.”

    No one else in the metal community writes like this. That’s why I read Grim’s reviews. He’s like the black metal Hemingway.


  5. Commented by: Dave

    Disappointing album so far. Maybe it will grow on me.


  6. Commented by: biff tannen

    I had ZERO hopes for this album….but after a good week of spinning it in my car to and from work, it’s acutally quite good. The songs start to stand out more after a few listens.


  7. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    this review is way off base. there’s nothing about this that “sucks.” it’s a really good disc.


  8. Commented by: Dan

    I was disappointed initially, but there were some EPIC expectations placed on this one. They could have used a little more thunder in the drums too, if you ask me.


  9. Commented by: vegard

    still not “getting” these reviews. how does this SOUND? i see a paragraph mentioning “noodling” and “a nice folkish break”, but all in all it’s not telling much imho.


  10. Commented by: Dimaension X

    I like the album a lot, but this review goes way off on too many tangents without actually describing the album.

    Some of the songs actually reminded me of Bathory’s “Twilight of the Gods” album – very epic. Great songs, but the production is way too tinny, much more like Damned in Black sounded. Marduk’s “Wormwood” has much better production, much clearer and “beefier”.


  11. Commented by: Storm King

    Well, after reading this review I know what the reviewer thinks about black metal. I know precious little about All Shall Fall, but thankfully I own it and like it. If you like the last three Immortal CDs, you’ll like this.


  12. Commented by: Rev

    vegard:

    It sounds like Immortal. Therefore, it rules.


  13. Commented by: Vance

    Immortal are no longer black metal, I think they ditched that sound on “At the Heart of Winter” now they are more of a epic war/battle metal type band. I think this new album is good, but not nearly as good as “Sons of Northern Darkness” it reminds me too much of what Abbath did on the “I” side project, the whole thing sounds a little too “rockish”. I do think there are some cool riffs and Abbath’s guitar playing is outstanding, has to have some of the coolest strumming around, I do think the production is a little thin and the drums are kinda weak sounding… but I am very happy they are back.


  14. Commented by: biff tannen

    Vegard- It sounds like the last 3 Immortal albums. Perhaps a BIT faster over all than those…put there are still epic slow parts. “Mount North” is the best song, in my opinion. I had ZERO expectations for this, as I lost interest in Immortal about 10 years ago, but it was a pleasant suprise to my ears. After a few listens it really opens up.
    The only problem with the release is the HORRIBLE production. It sounds like a fucking tin can and is very hard on the ears. Peter Tatgren SUCKS as a producer, and he always has,with few exceptions. EVERYTHING that comes from Abyss studios sounds the fucking same. He should be locked up before he ruins another album.


  15. Commented by: JH Doom

    Sorry Grimmfluffer, but you’re way off the mark on this one.


  16. Commented by: Tom

    Bypassing the hype meter, All Shall Fall is really a solid album. I’m digging it more than Sons of Northern Darkness as a full album.


  17. Commented by: Grimulfr

    I don’t usually respond to comments here but… since so many of you seem to read just a few words and ignore the rest, or perhaps I’m just too subtle…

    I have listened to about 360 2009 releases and I said this one would be an honorable mention come year end, meaning in the top 15 releases or so.

    Advance press promised return to 97 style, didn’t happen, sounds just like the style developed over last three albums. The comment was meant as a declaration of disappointment clarified at the end of the paragraph, i.e. initial listen disappointing but grew on me rapidly.

    As for not discussing the sound, said similar to last three albums, still has Immortal vibe, does not sound like a smattering of outside influences, is kind of pastoral- not angry or warlike- which should tell you about pacing and mood. I said it is a continuation of Sons of Northern Darkness but slowed overall with less emphasis on the noodling and more on riffs that convey mood, i/e. not fast and chaotic (pastoral)

    if that was not enough to give you a sense of the sound, the production is overall a bit flat, vocals are growled a bit lower but still in the distinctive style, drums are lower in the mix with guitars louder and fuller… if you need a second by second break down in order to make a decision you are missing the key point- it sounds like Immortal.

    as for tangents, the imagery and backdrop that Immortal uses for the placement of all their lyrical themes is a significant aspect of who they are, expressing their true Scandinavian character and therefore hardly a tangent, it is customary to discuss lyrical themes in a review.

    now I’m off to visit my mother, I’ve still got a lot of digging to do to create a basement, since the house is built on posts.


  18. Commented by: Grimulfr

    “Why does a mythic worldview have to clash with a scientific one?”

    in theory they can coexist and among reasonable people they do. I try to teach both views to my kids. They are not mutually exclusive, especially from the perspective of kids. But the reality is this is the heart of arguments over scientists being neutral and objective, theologists ignoring evolution, the centuries long arguments over faith versus reason…

    a further discussion would constitute a tangent


  19. Commented by: gabaghoul

    “now I’m off to visit my mother, I’ve still got a lot of digging to do to create a basement, since the house is built on posts.”

    win


  20. Commented by: BreedingtheSpawn

    All Shall Fall is a good album it took me a while to get into though.


  21. Commented by: krustster

    thanks for clarifying yourself, Grimulfr. As others noted, I found your review confusing and it looked like you were saying this was a bad album…. which would just be stupid. ;)

    Your writing style is a little unfocused sometimes but at least you seem to have pretty good opinions.


  22. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    This album is pretty close to being the best album of 2009. I can’t believe Erik gave it a shit review over at Metalreview.com. What was he thinking?


  23. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Dont think it was really shit- just average or fair.


  24. Commented by: axiom

    I guess I’ll spend more time with this release, an early rush to judgment found it pretty dull. Immortal and Grimulfr do ‘get it’ though.


  25. Commented by: Blog › Teeth of the Divine Staff Picks of 2009 › Teeth of the Divine

    […] 19. Immortal – All Shall Fall […]


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