- Sarah Stubbs
REVIEWED: Immortal's 'Northern Chaos Gods'
It's hard to imagine a band of such towering status and staggering longevity possibly surpassing the dizzying heights of blackened excellence for which they've long been so fanatically admired. And yet, in this electrifying act of crushingly immense, sinewy power and frostbitten atmospherics, that's precisely what these legendary Norsemen have achieved in rich and seemingly limitless abundance.
With its gargantuan slabs of reverb and madly revolving whorls of tremolo accelerating with all the bewildering velocity of an apocalyptic blizzard, self-titled opener 'Northern Chaos Gods' forms an exceptionally vicious statement of intent. Gathering whiplash-inducing momentum across grandly expansive layer upon layer of battering hyperblasts and thickly distorted groove, the duo's ninth long-player to date is gloriously rich with
evidence of their genre-defining historic roots. Yet the impeccably engineered precision and control with which these savage old school trappings are skilfully manipulated instantly makes clear that this is no simple and derivative homage to past glories. Propelling these classic, frostbitten trappings headlong into the 21st century, ‘Gates to Blashyrkh’ displays seamless ease in blending pulverising groove and exquisitely delicate melodic details to electrifying effect. With every lacerating rasp of tremolo and propulsive blast showcasing impeccable standards of clarity in the mix, ‘Northern Chaos Gods’s’ monstrously expansive presence owes no small debt to engineering legend Peter Tägtgren’s prestigious studio talents. Pushing these stunning levels of technical complexity into still icier, otherworldly territories, the aptly-titled ‘Called to Ice’ sees insanely paced feats of raggedly abrasive riffage accelerate frantically beneath savagely beautiful flurries of wintry melodic trappings.
With its generous lashings of lacerating rock hooks and richly distorted grooves imploding in a bone-splintering tsunami of ghoulishly echoing screams, epic closer ‘Mighty Ravendark’ sees the synapses instantly crackling with adrenaline. Splicing these stirringly anthemic trappings alongside utterly entrancing episodes of frostbitten atmospheres that chill the enraptured listener to the very bone, it’s as fittingly haunting and explosive a finale as any Immortal fanatic could wish for.
'Northern Chaos Gods' is out now on Nuclear Blast