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Black Metal History

IMMORTAL: The Blackened Chronicles

In the second installment of a three-part series spotlighting pivotal bands in Black Metal's past and present; we recount the history of Immortal, one of the biggest bands in the genre's second wave.

In the second installment of a three-part series spotlighting pivotal bands in Black Metal's past and present; we recount the history of Immortal, one of the biggest bands in the genre's second wave.

The second wave of black metal arose during the early nineties. Following the ferocity of the first wave that washed over Europe, a new blast of bands emerged to carry the demonic torch of black metal. However with this second wave came a musical culture brimming with corpse paint, satanic imagery, murders, suicides, and church burnings. It was an infamous era in metal that saw some of its biggest talents become some of Europe's most notorious criminals. In the midst of all the metallic chaos, isolated in the frigid winter of Bergen, Norway was another one of the second wave's biggest bands, Immortal. 

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Immortal formed in 1990 under its two most consistent members, Olve Eikemo and Harald Nævdal. Immortal followed an atypical model when compared to their contemporaries. They steered clear of any illegal activity and controversy. Their lyrical styling spoke to more of a dark fantasy of Blashyrkh, a realm filled with demons and battles. Immortal's albums also take on a very icy aura, harnessing the frigidness of life in Norway. To this point, the band has released eight studio albums, a couple splits an EP, and a demo in their twenty five years of off-and-on existence.

Eikemo and Nævdal originally were members of the death metal groups, Amputation and Old Funeral (which at one time featured Varg Vikernes), that existed in the late eighties and early nineties. The duo adopted new names upon donning corpse/war paint and embarking on Immortal. Eikemo became known as Abbath Doom Occulta and Nædval went by Demonaz Doom Occulta. Their music was heavily influenced by bands like MayhemBathory, and Celtic Frost. They recorded a debut demo and EP in 1991, both entitled Immortal prior to releasing their full-length debut in 1992, called Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism. This was the only album to feature drummer, Armagedda, and it built a foundation for one of black metal's most influential acts.

1993 saw the release of Pure HolocaustImmortal's second studio album that introduced the frozen nature of the band's music. The instrumentation for the album was done entirely by Abbath and Demonaz, the former playing bass, studio drums, and vocals while the latter played lead guitar and wrote the lyrics. This formula remained the same for their next and arguably their most influential studio album, 1995's Battles in the North. It was within this album that the songs, "Grim and Frostbitten Kingdoms" and "Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark)" became wildly popular and fortified the icy aesthetics that often are associated with black metal and the lyrical realm in which Immortal's music exists, respectively. Their icy repertoire grew in 1997 with Blizzard Beasts. With its arrival also came Immortal's first consistent drummer since their inception, Reidar Horghagen, who became known as Horgh. Unfortunately, following the release of Blizzard Beasts, Demonaz got severe tendinitis of the shoulder and was forced to resign from guitar duties. While Demonaz stayed on with the band to write lyrics and manage Immortal, Abbath took over full-time lead guitar duties as well as continuing to play bass guitar.

Immortal released three more albums between 1999 and 2002. "At the Heart of Winter", "Damned in Black", and "Sons of Northern Darkness" all saw the Norse trio utilize a blackened thrash sound. In 2003; the band split, citing personal reasons. Abbath joined a Mötörhead cover band, called Bömbers, for a while. Then in 2005, Abbath and Demonaz reunited again to form another metal group, called I. The group saw the Immortal duo reunited with one time drummer, Armagedda, and joined by Arve Isdal of Enslaved and King ov Hell of Gorgoroth. The group released an album entitled Between Two Worlds in 2006 and coincidentally sent black metal fans into a fit over the possibility of Immortal's resurrection.

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Much to many fans' relief, Immortal reformed in 2006. Abbath, Demonaz, and Horgh all came back and three years after reformation (now joined by current bassist, Apollyon), released All Shall Fall and another split. However the excitement would be relatively short-lived as these would be Immortal's last releases to this day with frontman, Abbath. He has since left the band due to disagreements with Demonaz and Horgh. In January, Abbath released his solo, self-titled debut album through Seasons of Mist, channeling the icy rage his former band was known for. Demonaz and Horgh meanwhile have since vowed to carry on Immortal and are planning to record during 2016 in an effort to release new music. While unfortunate that one of black metal's biggest names has broken up, Immortal's legacy continues to carry its weight. In the ever-evolving scope of today's black metal, many bands still site the grim, Norse titans as influences for their music.

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