Immortal - _At the Heart of Winter_
by: Paul Schwarz (
I don't know about you, but after less than ten listens I found Immortal's last album, _Blizzard Beasts_, was a little uninteresting and most definitely a step down in quality from the excellent _Battles in the North_ or the classic _Pure Holocaust_. I thought at the time that the band might have hit a creative rut and wondered whether they would again grace my ears with music which would impress and move me as much as their earlier releases did. I shouldn't have worried. Despite losing his Doom Occulta "brother" to tendinitis, Abbath has forged on with drummer Horgh and they have made an Immortal album which not only cements the bands reputation as one of black metal's finest, but also shows that they can develop their style without losing their essence. This album abandons the path of speed which Immortal have been travelling at increasing rates on since _Pure Holocaust_ and opts on the whole for a slightly more relaxed pace. There are still blasts and speed, believe me, but the band are utilizing it where they were before coming close to relying on it. _AtHoW_ is also more music-focused; there are more riffs and they are given more time and space to breathe from the vocals as well as being astoundingly well-pronounced by Peter Tagtgren's slick production. The album has a dark feel and captures, through the combination of riffs, drums, vocals and sparingly used keyboards, a chilling atmosphere which fits their lyrical concept and fantasy themes effortlessly. The symbiosis is successful: the album takes the enraptured listener into the "Heart of Winter", into a world of Immortal's own creation.
(article published 19/5/1999)
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