Immortal - All Shall Fall (Nuclear Blast) 2009
1. All Shall Fall (5:58)
2. The Rise Of Darkness (5:48)
3. Hordes To War (4:33)
4. Norden On Fire (6:16)
5. Arctic Swarm (4:02)
6. Mount North (5:08)
7. Unearthly Kingdom (8:31)
I'll just be right up front and admit that I've never been a huge fan of black metal. My interest in the style was pure curiosity in the past and pretty much remained that way through the years. I would check out bands on the suggestion of friends but mostly found the music humorous, sometimes amusing and really nothing more. I just rarely found anything in the music that would call me back for repeated listens. Immortal are one of those band's I have curiously followed through the years yet never really dug deeply into their music. Their promo photography has become so over-the-top in the past that I couldn't help but laugh. Their look is a cross between Kiss, King Diamond, a racoon and some sort of armored warrior. Regardless, I have to respect them for sticking with their image and delivering album after album of grim black metal to back it up. It's safe to assume that they either don't care about the critics and those that poke fun at them, or they really don't take themselves all that seriously and are laughing right along.
"All Shall Fall" is the band's first album after a seven-year hiatus. I would describe the band's sound as cold, metallic, controlled chaos, slightly melodic and a bit monotonous. On my first couple listens I was actually having a hard time distinguishing one song from the next. The sound overall comes across as a bit same-y and the songs tended to run together without much distinction. This has long been my trouble with most black metal. It lacks much in the way of memorable songwriting/hooks and is mostly about aggression, speed and image, usually accompanied by poor, high end production. The production on "All Shall Fall" is more than adequate. As well, with repeated listens, the subtleties of the songwriting began to appear and the deft melodies and varied tempos brought out some dynamics in the songs. Of course, it wouldn't be black metal without the blistering speed. The opening title track should prove that Immortal still have the speed along with the subtle melodies they have interwoven. Other tracks boast more dramatic and epic sensibilities, and even explore more somber and melancholy emotions as well. As usual for black metal, and Immortal's Abbath is no different, the vocals sound like a demented muppet. The shrill vox become part of the musical landscape and never really offer much in the way of memorable hooks, but then I suppose that isn't really the point either. Immortal aren't going to be writing any fist-pumping, feel-good, sing-along, heavy metal anthems any time soon.
At this point, I cannot compare "All Shall Fall" to the band's past catalog, since I am fairly unfamiliar with it. After living with this album for some time, I still cannot say that I Immortal have won me over and made me a black metal fanatic. However, I did found myself enjoying this album quite a bit, and certainly more-so than a lot of other black metal albums I have heard. Take that for what it's worth. (thanks Jeremy)