IMMORTAL — At the Heart of Winter — the ultimate metal music online community, from the creators of

IMMORTAL - At the Heart of Winter cover
4.49 | 58 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1999

Filed under Black Metal


1. Withstand the Fall of Time (8:29)
2. Solarfall (6:02)
3. Tragedies Blows at Horizon (8:55)
4. Where Dark and Light Don't Differ (6:45)
5. At the Heart of Winter (8:00)
6. Years of Silent Sorrow (7:53)

Total Time: 46:06


- Abbath Doom Occulta / Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Synthesizers
- Demonaz Doom Occulta / Lyrics
- Horgh / Drums

About this release

An extremely limited edition version was available with a picture box case.

2005: Vinyl re-issue on Osmose (Lim 1000).
2010: Vinyl re-issue on Osmose
- black vinyl
- blue vinyl (303 copies)
- blue/white haze vinyl (200 copies)

A common misprint with some CD versions of the album has "At the Heat of Winter"
written on the disc.

Recorded in Abyss studios, Sweden, during November 1998.
Produced, mixed and engineered by Peter Tägtgren
Co-mixed by Immortal
All music written by Abbath
All lyrics written by Demonaz
All music arranged by Abbath and Horgh
Cover artwork by Jean Pascal Fournier
Concept and layout by Grafik sarl.

Warning - Osmose CD presses from February 2001 up to around 2005 may contain a
copy-protection method which renders the CD completely unreadable in PCs and
certain modern Hi-Fi systems. This isn't indicated anywhere on the packaging.

Thanks to Prog Geo, adg211288 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

The fifth Immortal album At the Heart of Winter marks a few changes to the band, especially when put up against the previous album Blizzard Beasts. Because of his problems with RSI guitarist Demonaz was forced to take a back seat with the band from this point onwards, with Abbath taking over the guitarist role. On At the Heart of Winter he still retains his bassist role as well, while the drums are still handled by Horgh. As usual though Demonaz still wrote all the lyrics.

Musically though this is also a very different band to that which recorded Blizzard Beasts and also the rawer sounding first three albums, which are all very much staples of a pure black metal sound. Where Blizzard Beasts toyed with death metal At the Heart of Winter introduced some thrash metal elements to the Immortal sound. The songs are much longer than on past Immortal albums as well, which has resulted in a more substantial running time and overall the record is better produced. The end result is what I consider the band's crowning achievement and tracks like Withstand the Fall of Time and the title track are fine favourites. I do enjoy Blizzard Beasts more than some fans seem to but I have to say that At the Heart of Winter is like a new lease of life for the Norwegians; a massive jump in quality and a record that they'll spend the rest of their career trying to match.

Demonaz was forced to step back from a performing role due to the onset of tendonitis after Blizzard Beasts - though he's still considered a full member of the band and is essentially their lyricist and manager - prompting a sonic transformation that's almost as radical as the shift into blackened death metal on Blizzard Beasts was. Here, the band inject a hefty influence from thrash metal into their style, creating a hybrid style of blackened thrash which combines complex riffs reminiscent of the Big Four with the blast beats and shrieked vocals of black metal.

And most importantly, Abbath proves himself more than capable of filling the vacant lead guitarist spot. Considering how close the working relationship between Abbath and Demonaz was (and still is), losing Demonaz as a performer must have presented a real crisis for Immortal's continued survival as a band; in At the Heart of Winter, they not only survive, they thrive.
This is without a single doubt in my mind, not just a great improvement on Immortal’s previous offering, Blizzard Beasts, but the band’s best album to date. I’ll go even further to say that I feel that this is not only their best, but one of the best albums of the black metal genre. I’m not the type to call it the best the genre has to offer; I don’t think that anyone has a right to decide such things, but if someone did have that right, I’d put a wager on At the Heart of Winter.

Troubled times surround the creation of this album, guitarist Demonaz had to pull out of his guitar duties permanently because of an injury, but he stayed on as Immortal’s manager and lyricist, and with frontman Abbath handling all the music writing, they have produced the album of Immortal’s career. It’s a slight departure with their traditional sound, bringing in a much better production to their music, and including more elements of traditional metal. There are more actual grooves within the guitar riffs (now played by Abbath) and they are topped off by Horgh’s monstrous drumming. The style of the album could even be considered blackened thrash metal. At the Heart of Winter is fast, catchy in a black metal sort of way, but still brutal, and still black metal, and even more amazing than before. This album deserves all the high praise it can get.

The standout songs here though are easily Withstand the Fall of Time, Solarfall and the title track, At the Heart of Winter. Immortal unashamedly include a very long synthesiser intro on the latter, and slower sections appear on this album more often they on previous releases by Immortal, giving a much needed variety to At the Heart of Winter that I feel was needed to provide the new sound with more depth. It’s even progressive in parts, with Abbath not being afraid to throw in an extra riff here and there to make song structures more unusual. His playing of both the guitar and bass is excellent. He may not be known for fast soloing, but his rhythm work more than makes up for it.

Abbath’s vocals are very strong on At the Heart of Winter too. Blizzard Beasts saw him taking on a style closer to death metal at times. At the Heart of Winter sees a 100% return to the black metal growling style, although he does sound distinctly different on Where Light and Dark Don’t Differ, it is still black metal. It is however this track where I have my only complaint about At the Heart of Winter. It has a guitar solo, but it gets drowned out by the rhythm section. It's still a good song, but I think the mix could have befitted from a little tweaking here.

(Review originally written for Heavy Metal Haven)

Members reviews

After losing Demonaz to tendenitis (he still writes the lyrics), Immortal returns once again to a two man line up. But this time with Abbath doing all the guitar, bass, vocal work and Horgh tackling the drumming. I had no clue what Immortal had up their sleeve this time, but i was going to find out at all costs.

Wow, this is a comeback album if I have heard one. Immortal has slowed things down a lot, and instead of using their trademark of blazing guitars (Abbath can still shred mind you) with superfast drumming, they have gone on more of a thrash route and have incorporated technical riffs with quality drumming to make this album a winner. The production on the album is terrific (which is a tremendous improvement from their previous albums) so you can actually hear how Abbath is picking and he still belts out the vocals like no other. "Withstand The Fall of Time" is one of the golden moments on the cd with some incredible guitar work, mixing high fast riffs with low ones to make a nice balanced sound. Horgh has improved alot and follows up the guitar work with some nice drumming that fits the album very nicely. But no other part on this cd caught me off guard as much as the midpoint of "Tragedies Blows At Horizon". Abbath switches to a clean guitar with very precise picking that sounds amazing, which made me rewind the cd many times to hear it again. Plus, to think that wasn't enough, "At The Heart Of Winter" has a nice breezy intro to it before incorporating yet another clean guitar riff into the cd.

Immortal have come back with an album that has all the varity, uniqueness and production that "Blizzard Beasts" lacked and will appeal to any metal fan out there. Amazing!

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