The discovery of a new band is always exciting. Will it be something you’ve heard countless times? An experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or is it a treat from which you cannot stop consuming? I wanted to take a trip back in time to reminisce about bands/albums that not only introduced me to heavy music, but kept me coming back for more…
From The Archive: Immortal – Sons of Northern Darkness
Hands down, one my absolute favorite black metal bands has gotta be Immortal. From the moment I first heard their music, I was hooked, the speed, the rawness, the out of control gauntlets and corpse paint, it was all ridiculous, but oh so awesome. Now while I happen to enjoy their entire discography, the album that gets most of my attention has to be their 2002 release, Sons of Northern Darkness. One listen to this album and it’s easy to see why Immortal are one of the true kings of black metal.
Now reason for them being one of the top in the genre, is that Immortal have shown progression with each release. Rather than simply reproducing a carbon copy of their earlier material, they’ve adopted moments from previous albums, such as At The Heart Of Winter and Damned In Black, putting forth an album that while relentless with it’s upfront blackened/thrash tone, also contains sections of ambient/clean guitar driven interludes. The riffs on this album walk the thin line between the minimal melodic aesthetics of 2nd wave black metal and the technical fury of 80’s German thrash, coming off a little less mechanical than on the last album, but still holding to that very methodical line.
“One By One”, the albums opener is an intense and electrifying song, which gets things started off on the right foot. Being one of the fastest songs on the album, it immediately gets your attention and keeps you hooked. Other tracks that follow this formula are “Sons of Northern Darkness”, “In My Kingdom Cold” and “Demonium”, each offering plenty of frost-bitten riffs and blurring blast sections that are sure to induce instant banging of the head. Other tracks, such as “Tyrants”, “Within The Dark Mind” and “Beyond The North Waves” are more slow-burning with an emphasis on heavy down tempos and an overall darker atmosphere/tone. And speaking of atmosphere, Immortal do a great job of creating that cold/frostbitten feeling to their sound, which in return, gives their albums that epic feeling.
The production on Sons of Northern Darkness is crisp and precise, capturing the instruments and the vocals with an equal amount of attention. It showcases every attack of the guitar and every thud of the bass drum perfectly. Abbath’s vocals, while a tad louder at points, but not so loud as to overpower the music, and his guitar playing are at it’s peak, both in technicality and creativity. The songwriting this time around is concise and straightforward with the riffs hammering out the blackened/thrash sound, but with the Abbath twist on it, providing nothing short of clear brutality.
Sons of Northern Darkness is a killer album, and one of my favorites from Immortal. Although they disbanded for a few years after this album was released, they eventually made their return in 2009 with their latest album All Shall Fall (also a great album), and I for one was more than pleased to welcome them back. In fact I was lucky enough to meet them after a show they played in Brooklyn last year and got a few pictures taken with them and their autographs. All around cool guys that I could not understand at all, haha. Suffice to say, I love Immortal and you should too.
Immortal – “In My Kingdom Cold”