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Immortal - "All Shall Fall" (CD)

Immortal - "All Shall Fall" CD cover image

"All Shall Fall" track listing:

1. All Shall Fall (5:58)
2. The Rise of Darkness (5:47)
3. Hordes To War (4:32)
4. Norden On Fire (6:15)
5. Arctic Swarm (4:01)
6. Mount North (5:07)
7. Unearthly Kingdom (8:30)

Reviewed by on October 21, 2009

"Anyone who needs a soundtrack for the next time they find themselves on the frostbitten field of battle, championing paganism by the might of their sword arm, has come to the right place."

Mostly absent from the music world since 2002, Immortal’s “All Shall Fall” is easily one of the most anticipated black metal releases of the year. Joining the ranks of several other black metal originators who have decided to resurface for more grim mayhem, Immortal has again expanded their vision while remaining true to their core concept. Anyone who needs a soundtrack for the next time they find themselves on the frostbitten field of battle, championing paganism by the might of their sword arm, has come to the right place.

Immortal’s lyrics remain well within the boundaries of early black metal. Words like “bleak” and “darkness” get tossed around with wild abandon. Some of the fans who have moved past the cvlt aspects of the genre may want to skip reading through the lyrics, but they don’t particularly detract from the music in any significant way. Each track channels the frozen hatred of pure black metal whether vocalist Abbath is screeching about evil lurking darkness or the chaos of battle.

Where “All Shall Fall” really shines is in the band’s ability to match a grim and depressive undercurrent with the epic nature of full-throttle metal. The title track is a blistering call to war, but it’s executed in a completely different manner than would be heard from battle-themed bands like Ex Deo or Amon Amarth. While the song could certainly inspire the hordes to start a few church fires, it is rooted more in a cold atmosphere and deliberate pacing than a non-stop heavy metal assault. Even as Abbath croaks out the words “All Shall Fall” he gives more of a sense of despairing inevitability than a promise of vengeance.

As would be expected from a band with Immortal’s history, the album is heavy on the blast beats and the bass is kept in an undisclosed location for its own safety. The old school style is a part of Immortal’s charm, but it doesn’t fully dominate the disc. “All Shall Fall” keeps most of the sounds distinct and sharp, with only a minor fuzz surrounding the instruments. A few of the guitar solos even break out of standard black metal conventions and give a cause for straightforward head banging.

The album’s final track “Unearthly Kingdom” starts off with an extended symphonic segment meant to steep the song in gothic atmosphere before the distorted guitars make an appearance. Each successive instrument is added to the mix in a calculating and controlled manner to keep their final epic song going as long as possible. The medium to slow pacing almost adds an element of doom metal to the music that is entirely fitting.

Immortal waited a long time from their last album to release “All Shall Fall,” which set many fan’s expectations to unachievable levels. The disc doesn’t revolutionize the genre or set a new standard, but it absolutely pleases as a black metal album entrenched in the grim, old school flavor. Immortal fans and black metal enthusiasts in general should make a point of checking out the album.

Highs: Grim and frozen atmosphere by black metal legends with a few innovations outside the genre norms.

Lows: The standard black metal problems apply with blast beat overuse and lack of a significant bass presence.

Bottom line: Cold and epic black metal that maintains an old school feel without sacrifcing much quality.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)