Immortal – All Shall Fall (Nuclear Blast Records)

Sunday, 17th March 2013
Rating: 9/10

Back after a seven-year absence, Immortal return to defend the realm of Blashyrkh – and do they ever. Do take stock in the high rating and the fact we’re not tempering our enthusiasm for this reunion – All Shall Fall picks up where the band left off with 2002’s brilliant Sons of Northern Darkness. And if we wanted to go out on a limb, it might even be better.

Having the benefit of not producing an immediate follow-up to Sons… has worked in Immortal’s favor, as All Shall Fall is more or less a continuation of said album. Singer/guitarist Abbath’s icy, Nordic-charged riffs are still instantly identifiable and when the opening riff of the title track lands, it’s a triumphant moment in the annals of black metal. Same goes for Horgh’s drums, which for the lack of a better term, are thunderous.

Both “The Rise of Darkness” and “Hordes to War” are stocked with some of Immortal’s most prime riffage to date. The latter could be either a direct and indirect homage to Bathory’s “Pace to Death,” and in this scribe’s humble opinion, is the band’s best song since “Solarfall” off the At the Heart of Winter album.

The band is still not afraid to toy with atmosphere, and they do on “Norden on Fire” and “Mount North.” Since their sound is practically bereft of keyboards, Immortal relies on the guitar movements of Abbath to create those cold, barren soundscapes and when the band wants to go in a more epic and lengthy direction (as in album closer “Unearthly Kingdom”), it’s done so in a less overt manner than their contemporaries. Immortal doesn’t make you work to feel the atmosphere – it’s just there.

Black metal, in its perpetual state of flux, needed Immortal. As one of the lastbands standing from the vaunted mid-90’s, Immortal are more viable than ever and All Shall Fall is the clear-cut Norwegian BM album of the year. Hard to not get behind this – few bands have such character and integrity.

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