Immortal – In The Heart of Winter – Review


In The Heart of Winter (Osmose)
by Paul Lee

If it were up to the Norsemen of Immortal, winter would dominate year round and feed the frozen blasts of their blizzard metal. Since I became an Immortal addict with ’97’s explosive Blizzard Beasts, I’ve anxiously awaited the unleashing of their new ice-age epic, In The Heart of Winter. Though Blizzard Beasts was great (though quite brief at 27 minutes), ITHW shatters it with a 46-minute length and much better production, courtesy of Peter Tägtgren.Often labeled black metal, Immortal have little in common with the atmospheric, keyboard-heavy style of fellow Norwegians, Emperor, and Dimmu Borgir. Immortal favor a rawer, more brutal assault, yet their metal is as complex and full of epic grandeur as any of their more popular cohorts. The only original member left is Abbath, who’s switched from bass to guitar duties as Demonaz contracted tendonitis and can no longer play (which is no surprise if you’ve ever heard the insane speed of Battles In The North or Pure Holocaust). From the grinding riff of “Withstand The Fall of Time” and Abbath’s distinctive growl, it’s clear that ITHW is going to be a relentless metal invasion. Though not as speedy as some of their previous work, Immortal are just as warlike and heavy. Yet despite of the crushing aggressiveness of their sound, they retain a melodic undercurrent throughout. Abbath uses some intense chords interspersed with the classic Immortal, speed-picked melodies. Maybe it’s the lyrics and images of frozen wastelands that accompany their music, but Immortal makes me appreciate the majesty and beauty of winter more than I ever have before. You don’t just have to be a fan of black metal to get into the new Immortal, this is an album that’s for addicts of all the extreme sides of music. Metal doesn’t get much more precise or chilling than Immortal’s brand of wintry destruction, and with this new disc, they leave their distinctly frigid mark.
(4470 Sunset Blvd. #6 Los Angeles, CA 90027)