IMMORTAL — Northern Chaos Gods (review)

IMMORTAL — Northern Chaos Gods album cover Album · 2018 · Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
IMMORTAL was one of the early pioneers of the second wave of black metal that found the brutal gut wrenching fledgling subgenre spawning from the deathened thrash leanings of the early bird evil ones such as Venom, Bathory, Mercyful Fate and Hellhammer. After all this time though, bands like Mayhem, Darkthrone, Burzum, Emperor, Satyricon and Gorgoroth who launched Norway onto the world’s stage as the most aggressively fearful bands that the music world has ever been subjected to, have pretty much strayed from their roots of the early black metal orthodoxies and either disbanded in search of other musical endeavors (such as Ihsahn spawning a solo career out of Emperor) or have completely jumped into the world of the avant-garde or experimental alternate realities. While a few bands of that era such as Gorgoroth and Sweden’s Marduk have kept a relatively pure form of second wave black metal as their primary focus, none have done it so gracefully and elegantly as Bergen’s IMMORTAL.

As is well known in this sector of the extreme metal universe, all has not been well between founders Abbath and Demonaz who were founders of this darkened nightmare inducing dinfest and parted ways in 2003 after the release of “Sons Of Darkness” but found common grounds long enough to pump out yet one more release in the form of 2007’s “All Shall Fall.” Despite trying to bite the bullet and get along for the sake of the music, the collaborative efforts of Abbath and Demonaz hit a low point and resulted in the ugly legal battles as to who owned the coveted trademark band name. After years of “legalistic battles in the north”, Abbath finally jumped ship permanently and embarked in his own self-penned career move whereas Demonaz continued the legacy of the original band moniker. After nine years of fans’ nail biting and dismay, a new IMMORTAL album has finally hit the market. The band’s ninth studio album NORTHERN CHAOS GODS not only continues their love of a certain direction of geography (uh, “Battles In The North,” “Sons Of Northern Darkness” and this one) but shows a newly energized IMMORTAL on top of their game. Did you really think they went away forever? What exactly does their name mean anyway?!!!

Demonaz stated that this album was to be as grim, dark and cold as possible and that wish has been granted in full black metal grimy regalia. Right from the very first bombastic blast of the opening title track, NORTHERN CHAOS GODS evokes the pure essence of a 90s black metal band catapulted into the modern era. By retaining a sense of the lo-fi bombastic melding of guitar, bass and drums with that classic “shrieking from the depths” vocal outrage, IMMORTAL emerges from the underworld of uncertainty and back into the Earthly plane of existence to reclaim their throne as the most enduring and authentic examples of classic second wave Norwegian black metal. With recognizable and almost downright familiar compositional bombast that evokes their earliest post-death metal years with classics such as “Pure Holocaust” coming to mind, Demonaz unleashes a ferocious fury of guitar riffing, deranged hellfire vocal torture alongside Horgh’s percussive orotundity and the bass bombast of newbie Peter Tägtgren who has played with many extreme metal bands including Hypocrisy, PAIN, Exodus, Therion, Sabaton and Edge Of Sanity, JUST to name a few. He also serves on this one at the helm of the production and mixing room.

I honestly can’t say that IMMORTAL has been anything but consistent. While many claim one album or another is superior to the next, i personally find them all to be compelling and NORTHERN CHAOS GODS, while not deviating significantly from their standard formula of head banging earache inducing black metal from the 90s, still fucking crushes the soul like a ton of bricks. On this release, Demonaz, Horgh and Tägtgren deliver a collection of eight of the most crushingly heavy tracks that the band has unleashed on an unsuspecting world in a long, long time. I, for one, never expected to experience such a fine and quality laden product as this one. This is indeed classic no nonsense black metal that eschews all the frills. No atmospheric touches, no ventures into avant-garde weirdness, no Satanic gimmicks, no none of that.

In fact, this album seems like the perfect recalibration to a more simple return to the roots of the black metal early years. Much like the grunge did to glam metal of the 90s. This is a balls to the wall return to the basics that emphasizes what made second wave black metal so utterly addictive in the first place. With a production that is perfectly balanced between lo-fi middle fingers raised and modern stereophonic bliss dowsed in pyroclastic musical outbursts of black metal fury, NORTHERN CHAOS GODS not only unleashes the frigid wintery ice cold temperatures translated into sonic form but proves that IMMORTAL are the current CHAOS GODS that are living up to their name and are here for eternity. A surprisingly consistent and fiery comeback from one of Norway’s most enduring and constantly kickass black metal bands. Will they return you may wonder? What is their name? Tell me now, WHAT…. IS ….. THEIR…. NAME? I just hope it’s not another nine years.
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adg211288 wrote:
11 days ago
Yes the actual sound is great. I'm very pleasantly surprised on that front - Demonaz fits well as the lead vocalist. His growling is not as distinctive as Abbath's trademark rasp but is more aggressive for it. Again, this is definitely better than Abbath's album.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
14 days ago
Sounds very Psychostick!
Vim Fuego wrote:
14 days ago
@siLLy puPPy a friend of mine once wrote a death metal song about making a cup of tea...
siLLy puPPy wrote:
15 days ago
No doubt they are reliving the past. This is 90s second wave black metal, nothing new in any way. Normally i don't get excited aboiut retreading but i've spun this about five times now and i just love the heck out of it. Simply because it's so well performed. So, it gets a pass for not being oriignal. At least they didn't re-record an earlier album. That bugs me more than borrowing from their own past glories.
adg211288 wrote:
16 days ago
I usually don't either - it just seems really pronounced on this one.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
16 days ago
Agreed but i don't care about silly lyrics in black metal. They could be screaming about the kitchen sponge for all i care :P As long as sounds good and it does
adg211288 wrote:
16 days ago
Only streamed this the once so far. I thought it was quite powerful in terms of performance - definitely better than expected without Abbath (and better than his album) - but I thought that lyrically Demonaz had been really scrapping the barrel of the whole Blashyrkh thing. It gave me a vibe of being a massive rehash.

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