Review: Immortal – War Against All
Ah yes, my favorite… blackened monotony.
Black metal is often seen as the scariest and in many cases most raw variant of extreme metal. Hailing from the ice-covered caverns of Norway and Sweden it is known for its goth fashion and extreme ideologies. Few black metal bands have stuck around as long as Immortal, so naturally, a new record is a big deal. They have finally emerged from the darkness after 5 long years to once again bring the chaos and destruction we’ve been collectively yearning for.
That is… unless the new record slips into the icy, frozen depths of obscurity.
Immortal has gone through a bit of a rough patch recently. They lost both Abbath and Apollyon in 2015, and then Horgh in 2022. If you’re curious what the lineup looks like now, it’s just Demonaz. At least he was one of the founding members so this gave me some hope; however, listening to the record it’s obvious that there wasn’t any outside influence. I was hoping they would use the lineup changes as a springboard of sorts to evolve the sound of the band, however I’m realizing that was wishful thinking.
Overall the record is fine. The first couple tracks are really neat, but unfortunately after that, it starts to drift into monotony. Looking at the track list, the title track “War Against All” starts the record immediately slamming the listener with wild blast beats and a massive, sweeping chord progression. This is closely followed by the signature high-pitched, distorted, icy vocals. It has a good groove to it that’s sure to keep the listener engaged for the duration of the track. The second track “Thunders of Darkness” follows much of the same formula, however, this one has some seriously wicked vocals as well. Those vocals make this track my favorite from the record. After those first tracks though I quickly began to realize that this record really wasn’t going to do much else for me. As it continues it becomes more and more obvious that Immortal is starting to show its mortality.
From what I can tell, the loss of all other members of the band has made a serious impact in their ability to deliver the signature Immortal sound. This could be forgivable if it did one of two things: it would either need to be an interesting and engaging listen despite its shortcomings, or it would need to push the envelope for what black metal can be. It does neither of these things. As a matter of fact, it does worse than doing neither, it almost baits the listener in with two really good tracks but then it doesn’t go anywhere. What’s the point of a strong start without a big finish? (see what I did there?)
Regardless I’d say the theme of this record is disappointment, and as a wise man once said: “My disappointment is immeasurable and my day is ruined“. This is extremely unfortunate, because as any metalhead already knows, Immortal is a hugely important band for the black metal genre, and their influence is heard in nearly every blackened group that succeeded them. I’m sad to say it’s probably time to hang up the leather coats and wipe off the corpse paint.
I see this record as a dying breath. It’s obvious that this band is all Demonaz has left and he’s doing his best to hold on to the pedigree that the Immortal name brings. War Against All would be received much better as a Demonaz solo project (which it basically is)—at least then there wouldn’t be such high expectations. I would love to see Immortal come screaming back triumphantly in the future, however at this rate I just don’t see that happening. In reflection, I loved the energy they brought with previous releases: it was badass, and more importantly, it was fun. As a long time fan this is not how I wanted to see this band end up; all I hope for now is that they let it drift gracefully back into the icy void, preserving it for all those who wish to experience it.
With a heavy heart, I give this album…
2 out ov 5 flaming toilets ov Hell
War Against All will be released on May 26 through Nuclear Blast.