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IMMORTAL - Northern Chaos Gods cover
4.17 | 10 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2018

Filed under Black Metal


1. Northern Chaos Gods (4:25)
2. Into Battle Ride (3:50)
3. Gates to Blashyrkh (4:38)
4. Grim and Dark (5:27)
5. Called to Ice (5:06)
6. Where Mountains Rise (5:51)
7. Blacker of Worlds (3:43)
8. Mighty Ravendark (9:14)

Total Time: 42:14


- Demonaz / guitars, vocals
- Horgh / drums

Guest/Session Musicians:

- Peter Tägtgren / bass

About this release

Release date: July 6th, 2018
Format: CD
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

Thanks to Nightfly for the addition and adg211288 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

When Norwegian black metal act Immortal first disbanded back in 2003 after seven studio albums, they left behind a pretty great legacy, ending on career high note Sons of Northern Darkness (2002). Their later reunion in 2006 resulted in a solid if not exceptional comeback album, All Shall Fall (2009), but then the band went another long stretch without a new album. Then, in 2015, something unthinkable happened: the band's two key members, Abbath and Demonaz (who hadn't been able to play with them since 1997 due to severe tendinitis, which was surgically corrected in 2013), had some sort of bust up. This resulted in Abbath going off to start his self-titled project, which released its debut album in 2016, and Demonaz officially restarted Immortal again in 2015, consisting of just him and drummer Horgh. Demonaz returns to his original instrument, guitar, and also takes over the lead vocalist role from Abbath, with bass handled by guest musicians Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy).

Now I for one was pretty sceptical about this whole thing, I admit it. Demonaz had previous laid down lead vocals in his self-titled project back in 2011 and didn't give the kind of performance that I personally felt would have fit in with Immortal's more aggressive form of black metal music. That's not to say that they were bad, just different, especially considering that Abbath has one of the most distinctive growling voices in the scene and has always been an aspect of Immortal's music that has set them apart from other black metal acts. Sure enough, on Northern Chaos Gods (2018), Immortal's ninth album and first and only without Abbath, Demonaz doesn't deliver anywhere near as distinctive sounding growls as the former frontman. They also fit in here much better than those on Demonaz's March of the Norse (2011) led me to expect they would. Combined with some really furious black metal riffing, Immortal's Abbath-less comeback may just be the most aggressive album they've ever released.

That's the good part. There's also a problem. And that's that with Abbath or without him, lyricist Demonaz has long written extensively about his own Blashyrkh theme and now that we're nine Immortal albums deep, he's starting to really show signs of scraping the barrel. Throughout Northern Chaos Gods and it's eight tracks, you'll continually hear phrases that have been heard before across Immortal records and even though the music itself provides an absolute beast of an album, it does feel just that bit stale now because of the lyrics. Even the title is taken directly from Immortal's popular track One by One, the opener from Sons of Northern Darkness while closer Mighty Ravendark was actually used before as part of Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark) on their third album Battles in the North (1995). Furthermore, there's also Gates to Blashyrkh on this album. It all feels a bit of 'been there, done that'.

In spite of that issue, it's clear that Northern Chaos Gods is a far superior album to Abbath's 2016 self-titled effort, so if nothing else, Demonaz most certainly wins round one of their post-collaboration careers. Immortal just needs a bit more originally in their lyrics in the future though, as for the first for me they prove a distraction when listening to their music, summoning memories of past glories with Abbath up front rather than allowing me to fully invest in this Demonaz fronted new incarnation of the legendary band, without otherwise does a damn fine job of proving itself a viable venture for Demonaz and Horgh. For the music alone, Northern Chaos Gods is still worth a respectable four stars though.
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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  • lopolik
  • Psydye
  • Anster
  • TheHeavyMetalCat
  • MorniumGoatahl
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