Over the last eleven years, Immortal have slowly – but not always quietly – established themselves as a leading act in black metal. With the recent passing of the last emperor, the black metal world is like a snake with no head, a writhing mass of coiled muscle wasting away under the weight of its own grimness. It’s time for the true successor to step forward and seize the abdicated throne. And I promise you this, true believers, it won’t be a gaggle of major label limeys in Halloween costumes sporting bad dye jobs and fake blood.
Immortal’s conquest began in 1991. Abbath (ex-Old Funeral) and Demonaz (ex-Amputation) came together with the singular desire to create icy, uncompromising black metal. Their modus operandi was simple: spikes, corpsepaint and music caustic enough to sear the ears of their enemies. An undeniable love for Bathory, Venom and Slayer peppered their early work, as is evident on their debut release, Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism. Abbath handled bass in the old days with Demonaz on guitar. The drummer slot took on nearly Spinal Tap proportions as the throne had a constantly rotating roster including Armagedda, Grim (ex-Borknagar) and Hellhammer (Mayhem). At times Abbath himself even sat behind the kit, as on Pure Holocaust and Battles in the North.
Despite being essentially a two-piece, Immortal created an indelible niche for themselves by writing frosty, fast and catchy songs laden with fantasy-tinged lyrics about a mystical, icy place known only as Blashyrk. With Hellhammer on drums, the band embarked on their first big European tour with Morbid Angel in 1995. The tour only served to raise their status. After 1997’s Blizzard Beasts, which saw the addition of the titan known simply as Horge, Demonaz experienced severe nerve damage in his hand that prevented him from further playing guitar. Abbath changed to guitar, and the band found a temporary bass player in Ares from Aeternus. Demonaz stayed active with the band writing all the lyrics and serving as the band’s manager. In 1999, the band returned stronger than before and clearly established the definitive Immortal sound with At the Heart of Winter and its follow-up Damned in Black. Rounded out by new bassist Iscariah, Immortal stood above the others, as the records received incredible press worldwide. U.S. audiences even got a small taste of the band live, as they did a week of dates with fellow Norwegians Satyricon.
Damned in Black finished the band’s deal with Osmose Productions. The band signed with Nuclear Blast Records for the world and will see proper distribution in the U.S. for the first time with their seventh release Sons of Northern Darkness. Once again recorded at Abyss Studios and produced by Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy), who also produced the last two, SOND continues in the great Immortal tradition of thick riffs, pounding drums, grim-throated vocals and an undeniable hook of melody that ties it all together. And as the black metal throne now stands vacant, Immortal stake their claim with a prophecy-fulfilling lyric from "In My Kingdom Cold": "At the mountains of madness/Unending grimness this kingdom is mine."