Northern Chaos Gods by ImmortalRelease date: July 6, 2018
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Abbath IS Immortal, some fans may cry. The legendary and extravagantly kooky frontman has lead Immortal into battle since debut album Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism in 1992, but recent band and legal disputes over the Immortal name trademark lead Abbath to retire from the band in 2015, where a solo career beckoned.
Abbath has some big and often cartoonish boots to fill, but they seem to have been successfully stuffed with the return of co-founding member and former guitarist Demonaz, now taking over vocal duties and continuing the Immortal name alongside blast master Horgh. Though always seen as a member Demonaz was last musically involved with Immortal on Blizzard Beasts in 1997, some 21 years ago. After unfortunately being diagnosed with Acute Tendinopathy Demonaz hung up the guitar, but continued to tour with Immortal and take duty as their main lyricist. It seems only fitting for Demonaz to return to the band full-time and after a recent shoulder operation he now also resumes guitarist position after a lengthy hiatus.
Joining Demonaz and Horgh is Hypocrisy frontman Peter Tägtgren as guest bassist and producer, who does a commendable job keeping the chaos in order, though his bass work is very distant in the mix. From opening title track ‘Northern Chaos Gods’ it’s clear Immortal are back with force, leading the album with a balls-out charge of incessant blasting and frenetic riffage. Demonaz’s rasping scream sends chills and it’s immediately evident this is no second rate vocal job from the man who dethroned Abbath.
Heavier tracks like ‘Into Battle Ride’ and ‘Blacker Of Worlds’ boast a more visceral and raw approach hearkening back to early days of Pure Holocaust utilising raging guitars and pounding blast beats as opposed to the more black n’ roll/thrashy sound of late Abbath era. The nature of these tracks and of all 8 are firmly planted in black metal, utterly grim and caustic with ice-bitten majesty coursing through, just where Immortal thrive and Demonaz clearly feels they should be. Though, no Immortal album would be complete without more melodic numbers like ‘Gates To Blashyrkh’ and ‘Where Mountains Rise’ with the latter being a sweeping, gradiose song with a sweet melodic hook.
Immortal have always produced enjoyable and dark black metal so calling this album a ‘comeback’ will make little sense, this album is rather a glorious continuation of Immortal’s early era with a triumphant return from Demonaz. With his lyrics being a consistent part of Immortal’s history his raspy voice has always been the lifeblood of the music, so his deeper involvement and leadership has proven a reawakening to the song writing aspects.
Northern Chaos Gods is the reinvigorating hit the Norwegians needed, capturing the essence of classic Immortal. Not one bad song. Not one filler. Just 8 tracks of ice-blasting grimness packed with muscular riffs and a primitive brutality that resonates throughout. It seems Abbath’s withdrawal is a blessing in disguise and now allows the new age of Immortal to carve their own icy path and Demonaz to lead them into the frost-doomed expanse of Blashyrkh. Northern Chaos Gods proves to be a stellar album and a perfect addition to the Immortal saga.