Sunday Old School: Black Metal History Month Part 4. Immortal
Band Photo: Immortal (?)
As many people are aware, February is Black History Month in the United States of America. Always one to respect cultures and take part in something, we here at MetalUnderground.com are dedicating this month to the history of Black Metal. We will be looking at some of the biggest names in the genre, those who helped to shape it, and some of the promising younger black metal bands in the underground.
The most ardent fans of the genre might say that black metal is immortal. Whether or not that’s true, Immortal is certainly black metal, and could be considered by some to be the poster boys of the scene, since practically every picture mocking black metal features the band and there’s even a Facebook group dedicated to inserting Immortal into any and every picture. Regardless of how they may be seen by some, there’s no denying that the group are one of the most popular that emerged from the Norwegian black metal scene in the early 1990’s. The origins of the band can be traced to one of the first extreme metal bands in Norway, Old Funeral, which featured future Immortal members Demonaz and Abbath, as well as including one Varg Vikernes in the lineup at one point. Abbath then began forming other musical projects, including Amputation, before deciding to form Immortal, which featured members of Old Funeral and Amputation, resulting in the demise of the former.
The band gained a following in the black metal underground after releasing a number of EPs and demos, but their popularity increased largely when their music video for the song, “The Call Of The Wintermoon,” from their debut full length album, “Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism,” was shown on television. Although the station mocked the band and the video has been a source of parody ever since, it helped gain awareness for the group and they soon got to work on new material, culminating in “Pure Holocaust,” which received rave reviews and has since gone on to be considered one of the best black metal albums of the 90s, if not all time. It was a departure from the previous album lyrically, discarding the supposed Satanic themes and concentrating more on ice, snow and blizzards. The album was recorded solely by Demonaz and Abbath, as they had not found a drummer yet, which came a few weeks later in the form of Grim, though he was to be fired from the band before Immortal recorded their next album, “Battles In The North,” which is considered to be another outstanding work in the field of black metal. After filming two more music videos for the songs, “Grim and Frostbitten Kingdoms” and "Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark)" with Mayhem drummer, Hellhammer, the band finally found a permanent drummer in Horgh and the group recorded their next album, “Blizzard Beasts,” which featured a more experimental sound than their previous work, which was considered straight up black metal.
However, disaster struck the band in 1997 when Demonaz suffered acute tendinitis in his arm, rendering him unable to play the guitar anymore, though he has stayed on with the band as their primary lyricist and sometimes manager. Owing to this upset, Abbath and Horgh recorded the next album, “At The Heart Of Winter” on their own, bringing in a more thrash metal orientated take on their music. Nevertheless, the record was met with extremely positive reviews from critics and a great response from fans. Abbath decided to switch from bass to guitar, and the group brought in new bassist Iscariah for the subsequent tour, before offering him a permanent position in the band. Iscariah would make his Immortal recording debut on their next album, “Damned In Black,” which returned to the group’s black metal style, though not completely removing the thrash influence. This trend continued on their next release, “Sons Of Northern Darkness,” which was the band’s first album for Nuclear Blast, one of the biggest metal record labels in the world. Despite the positive feedback, the band decided to call it a day in 2003.
The split was not to last long however, and in 2006 Abbath revealed that he, Demonaz and Horgh were resurrecting the band, much to the delight of black metal fans the world over. The reunited Immortal performed at several large European festivals, including a headlining performance at Germany’s legendary Wacken Open Air festival, along with the also recently reformed Celtic Frost. Within time, the band recruited Aura Noir bass player Apollyon and announced that the reunion was to be a permanent one, with new material to follow, which finally came to fruition when, “All Shall Fall” was released on September 25th in 2009. Since then, the band has continued to perform all over the world, recently wrapping up a short tour of the United States and have revealed that work on their next album is already well underway.
Immortal - "Call Of The Wintermoon"
Immortal - "Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark)"
Immortal - "One By One"
Immortal - "All Shall Fall"
Abbath Don't Feel Like Dancing
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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