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.