ALBUM REVIEW: Immortal – War Against All


No matter the time of year, it’s always winter for Norwegian black metal legends Immortal. Feeling nice and warm and looking forward to summer? Don’t be silly. Just one listen to the latest album War Against All (Nuclear Blast) will have you pining for the fjords and wishing the world was a dark, grim, and frostbitten kingdom of cryptic winter storms.


Having co-founded Immortal in 1991, Demonaz (aka Harald Nævdal) is the last man standing, his partner in crime, Abbath, leaving under a black storm cloud in 2015 with long-standing drummer Horgh going the same way in 2020 after a dispute over naming rights. All of which means that Immortal is pretty much the Demonaz show these days. Far from being a solo album, however, the monochromatically face-painted frontman has prepared for battle by recruiting bassist Ice Dale (better known as Enslaved/Audrey Horne four-stringer Arve Isdal) and Kevin Kvåle (Gaahl’s Wyrd) on drums.



Opening with a typically vicious statement of intent, the title track is pure fucking holocaust, a pulse-pounding throwback to early Immortal with blinding flurries of icy blastbeats and thrashing riffs. Even less subtle than those three-and-a-half minutes of apocalyptic carnage, ‘Thunders of Darkness’ follows quickly behind. Throbbing with early nineties aggression, even its slower and more rhythmic sections are more than capable of removing body parts at fifty paces.


‘Wargod’ is a lumbering mid-paced stomper similar to ‘Tyrants’ from Sons of Northern Darkness, but packing an even weightier groove, a Manowar-style interlude, and a closing section reminiscent of Hammerheart-era Bathory. The Bathory influence remains as clear as Immortal’s own Norwegian roots on the raven-infused brilliance of ‘No Sun’ before the mighty ‘Return to Cold’ begs one simple question: what do you mean return?


If someone claimed a seven minute instrumental could be the highlight of the entire record then you’d have every right to be skeptical. However, the utter brilliance of ‘Nordlandihr’ really cannot be understated. A battery of drums plays against an array of slower, melodic riffs as this enigmatic masterpiece ebbs and flows with atmosphere and drama. Anyone who thinks Demonaz isn’t capable of holding the listener completely enraptured without even uttering a single word clearly hasn’t been paying attention.


Encapsulating everything about the band, the eponymously titled ‘Immortal’ is an avalanche of riffs and icy aggression, occasionally slowing only to build tension before releasing another flurry of sub-zero fury. ‘Blashyrkh My Throne’ is a title that will surprise approximately nobody as the album closes on yet another Bathory-esque behemoth.


Packing more peaks than the Alps, Demonaz returns with all stalagmites blazing, shrieking, and croaking his love of old-school Scandinavian metal and backing it up with an endless supply of unforgettable riffs. Echoing previous albums like Battles in the North while sounding like a continuation of the solo album March of the Norse, War Against All is simply the finest example of modern, old-fashioned Norwegian black metal you’ll hear this year.


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9 / 10