Scrawl from The Saw’s Butcher Shop: Immortal — HEAVY BREAKDOWN

Welcome to The Saw’s Butcher Shop! Your Master Butcher has a frigid Classic Heavy Breakdown for you today; a journey into the cold, brutal darkness of the North. With a new record on the way, Immortal are still the creators of classic, ice-cold Black Metal. And after 30+ years of producing pure darkness, there is no end in sight.

Doom Occulta

Forged out of the ice and snow of Bergen, Norway, Immortal was formed in 1990 by guitarist Demonaz Doom Occulta (Harold Naevdal) and bassist/vocalist Abbath Doom Occulta (Olve Eikemo). Immortal was formed out of two previous bands – Old Funeral (Abbath) and Amputation (Demonaz). Immortal released their self-titled EP in 1991, with Abbath on vocals and bass, Demonaz on guitar, Jorn (Jorn Inge Tunsberg) on guitars, and Armagedda (Gerhard Herfindal) on drums. 1992 saw the release of their debut full-length album Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism (Osmose Productions).

Occupying the Throne

Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism is the only Immortal album to feature Armagedda on drums, he left the band in 1992. The album does not feature Jorn, however; he left the band in 1991. Grim (Erik Brodreskift) was the drummer for the next two years (1993-94). Unfortunately, Grim would later (1999) commit suicide for unrelated, personal reasons. A couple video clips were released in 1995 featuring Mayhem drummer, Hellhammer (Jan Axel Blomberg). In 1996, Immortal found it’s permanent drummer in Horgh (Reidar Horghagen). His name should sound familiar, he was Hypocrisy’s drummer from 2004 – 2021.

Significant Changes

In 1997, Immortal released Blizzard Beasts (Osmose Productions). Incidentally, the liner notes dedicate the album to Horgh, signifying his importance to the band. This is the year that Demonaz suffered some sort of shoulder injury and was unable to continue playing guitar. Abbath continued vocal duties, and moved over to guitar for the rest of his tenure (BTW, he also played studio drums in 1993-1995). Abbath and Horgh wrote most of the music for the next album, 1999s At the Heart of Winter (Osmose Productions). Demonaz continued to be a part of the band as the main lyricist, manager, and spokesman. Iscariah (Stian Smorholm) was tapped for live bass, and was made a permanent member (1998-2002).

The Darkness Remains

In 2000, the band released an often, overlooked album, Damned in Black (Osmose Production). Iscariah is featured on the record with his bass playing, and it was the last record with Osmose Production – the band’s French connection. In 2000, Immortal signed with the German, Nuclear Blast Records. A more prominent record company certainly didn’t mean a change of direction for Immortal, it was business as usual with 2002s Sons of Northern Darkness (Nuclear Blast). The opening track for this album, “One by One” is the only song on which Iscariah played bass. All other songs feature, of course, Abbath on bass. However, it would prove to be Abbath’s last contribution to the bass in Immortal.

Internal Bleeding

Immortal split from 2003 – 2007, reforming in 2007 for several summer tour dates. In 2009, All Shall Fall (Nuclear Blast) was released. It featured Apollyon (Cadaver, Aura Noir) on bass (2006 – 2015). It would be the last Immortal album, to date, to feature Abbath. Within a few years, the members of the band would find themselves in a legal battle for the rights to the name, Immortal. As a result of the stalemate, Abbath left Immortal in 2015, and formed the band of his own namesake – Abbath.

Then There Was One – Immortal

In 2018, Immortal released Northern Chaos Gods (Nuclear Blast). It is the first Immortal album to feature Demonaz on vocals, and the first since Blizzard Beasts to feature him on guitar. The album is also the last to feature Horgh on drums. Demonaz and Horgh have spent the last several years in legal dispute over the Immortal brand. This week (on October 24, 2022) Immortal announced a new album for 2023, War Against All. Demonaz is shown as the only member of the band.

Studio Albums

  1. Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism (1992)
  2. Pure Holocaust (1993)
  3. Battles in the North (1995)
  4. Blizzard Beasts (1997)
  5. At the Heart of Winter (1999)
  6. Damned in Black (2000)
  7. Sons of Northern Darkness (2002)
  8. All Shall Fall (2009)
  9. Northern Chaos Gods (2018)

Immortal

The first three albums were classic, wall-of-sound, Black Metal, inspired by Bathory and the like. However, though Immortal is definitely Black Metal, Blizzard Beasts began a legacy of more Thrash-based music, with trademark Abbath blackened vocals. Horgh’s drumming, starting in 96’, ensures a consistent, even pounding; with his classic Heavy Metal style. The music, from here, up to (and including) All Shall Fall,is brilliant! Excellent time changes – very smooth and natural. Incredible riffs and melodic and harmonic fillers. And you already know that Ya Girl loves Abbath vocals! His distinct voice, delivery, and cadence is genius!

So, Northern Chaos Gods, as we have said, marks the return of Demonaz to the guitar, and his first as vocalist. This album features him as the song writer, as well; his first sole record without Abbath’s input. This album is very good. His vocals are classically blackened. The music is more of the traditional Black Metal variety. Horgh plays drums and arranges the music. He plays with a classic Black Metal style on this album (unusual for him). It is excellent drumming, of course! You wouldn’t expect any less from him. Peter Tagtgren (Hypocrisy) plays bass on, mixes, and produces this album.

Full disclosure: I’m a HUGE Abbath fan (as you know!), but Immortal seems to be in good hands with Demonaz, alone, at the helm. As the main lyricist for Immortal from the beginning, the narrative and storylines are consistent throughout their discography – the fantasy world of “demon and battle-filled,” Blashyrkh; imagined via despair and loneliness, from life in the frozen tundra. Fog, shadows, cold; woods, mountains, and glacial valleys are the theme. Darkness and evil are the vehicles.

This band has been essential in its influence of Extreme Metal, historically. And it would appear as though the future is secure as fresh, frozen sheets of cold, dark, despair continue to develop from the source!

Stay Metal,

THE SAW