Immortal - _Blizzard Beasts_
(Osmose Productions, 1997)
by: Steve Hoeltzel (
"Inhale the effluence of the demon worlds", Abbath snarls on "Nebular Ravens Winter". I think I'll pass on that, but I will tell you this: these guys have definitely been inhaling Morbid Angel dust. Especially Demonaz: his drastic, jagged riffing technique on this album is heavily indebted to the ferocious early Trey Azagthoth style. The Horgh/Abbath rhythm section also displays a notable death metal influence this time, performing numerous sharp changes in speed, from mid-paced to hyper-fast, and with plenty of alternation between double bass, blast beats, and even some semi-grinding parts. Compared to their previous material, especially _Battles in the North_, the new songs are surprisingly winding and angular, mostly due to the frequent variations in speed, but also because there are several quite distinct riffs in every song. Songs like "Noctambulant", "Frostdemonstorms", and "Suns that Sank Below" make especially good use of weird, cutting riffs and sudden shifts from cruising speed into blasting overdrive. "Mountains of Might" and "Battlefields" take a more measured approach, but I definitely prefer the more frenetic material, like the title track and the other songs mentioned above. New drummer Horgh sounds quick and dexterous, but the drums are actually rather low and thin in the mix, which is dominated instead by biting guitars and icy vocals. The guitars retain their grim, alien sound, though the riffing style has changed. Also, Abbath's vocals are as icy as ever - so Popeye fans will continue to be gratified. :) Overall, I've really enjoyed this release. It's an unexpected and interesting change for the band, with some fierce and engaging material. The heavy Morbid Angel influence waters down Immortal's uniqueness a bit, but there's still something singularly chilly about their sound.
(article published 4/9/1997)
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