Abbath Doom Occulta is Immortal. Demonaz Doom Occulta is Immortal. Norwegian black metal is Immortal.
Abbath and Demonaz, whose real names are Olve Eikemo and Harald Nævdal respectively, co-founded Immortal in the autumn of 1990. Immortal would become one of the Mightiest and most Ravendark bands in history. It has been almost 30 years since this pioneering second wave of black metal group released their debut album, yet Immortal’s achievements are still as fresh as a gust of northern wind. Abbath and Demonaz have been described as brothers in all but blood. In fact, their bloodlines have actually crossed. Demonaz is the uncle of Abbath’s son. Abbath was married to Demonaz’s sister, musician Merete Winther, so they are still as good as family, even if it seems that they are no longer speaking at the moment.
Immortal has always been a Bergen-based band. Demonaz (born July 6th, 1970) moved with his family to Bergen from the surrounding area when he was a child. Abbath (born June 27th, 1973) still lives in the same place where he grew up — Lysefjorden (Os), which is located south of Bergen. Abbath first saw Kiss perform “Rockin’ in the USA” on television in 1980 when he was just 6 years old. From that moment on, Abbath knew that he wanted to be a musician. Abbath’s love for Kiss has never died, even though he has become the Gene Simmons of Norway in the hearts and minds of so many music fans! Regardless of your musical preferences, Abbath will make you “wanna rock and roll all night.” Mr. Eikemo has been described as being more akin to an offshoot of Kiss than a typical black metal frontman, but perhaps that is just another way of saying that Abbath should be less of a shining star?! Modesty on the stage has never been Abbath’s policy. Thus, if you feel like being a grouch, just close your eyes to the fact that Abbath makes black metal look fun and open your mind to his great music. The gregarious Abbath is so inherently badass that he has no reason to fear expressing his positive emotions. He is a conqueror, after all, and therefore has a victor’s mentality. Abbath and Demonaz have always been in a league of their own. Therefore, we will give an overview of Immortal’s history with a special focus on the band’s origins before we launch into our list.
Abbath and Demonaz met after the former’s friends became acquainted with the latter at a Slayer concert in Bergen. The young Olve had been too young to attend the event with them. In 2014, Abbath told Terrorizer: “Demonaz introduced me into his favourites and I got him to listen to mine… When I first met him in 1988, he had Morbid Angel’s Thy Kingdom Come demo  in his car.” (Note: Demonaz has stated elsewhere that the pair met in 1989, but 1988 seems to be a more accurate estimate.) At the time, Demonaz sang and played guitar in a death metal band that he co-founded called Amputation. Demonaz would participate in Amputation’s only two demos. Meanwhile, Abbath sang and played bass in another death metal band called Old Funeral that he started in 1988 with friends whom he had known since elementary school. Old Funeral’s drummer, “Padden,” Jan Atle Åserød, who would later become known as “Kolgrim” during his brief stint with Immortal, soon joined Amputation as well. Tore Bratseth was Old Funeral’s original guitarist. (When Abbath founded the Motörhead tribute band Bömbers in 1996, he enlisted Tore’s help.) Before his departure from the band, Abbath, a.k.a. “On the Egg,” played on Old Funeral’s first two demos. #1 was called The Fart that Should Not Be (1989). The tape features songs like “The Lovely Stench of an Egg Fart” and “Grandma Is a Zombie.” Both Abbath and Demonaz jammed with each other’s bands, so things seem to have been an incestuous tangle. Tore recalled in conversation with Voice from the Darkside that Demonaz had been a member of Old Funeral for 3 months “in the very beginning.” Abbath also seems more or less to have been a member of Amputation as well. Watch this Old Funeral rehearsal video from 1988 with Tore on guitar (left), Demonaz on guitar (right), Abbath on bass, Padden on drums, and Jim Larsen on vocals.
Abbath has confirmed that he welcomed Varg Vikernes into Old Funeral in 1990 because the band needed a second guitarist. Varg simply happened to be at a house party hosted by Demonaz at the right moment. Tore Bratseth, however, told Tough Riff Magazine: “Padden met Varg at a Slayer concert in Oslo…” Because Oslo is about 7 hours away without traffic or stops and Varg is also from Bergen, Abbath’s story seems more likely. (Later on, however, we will mention a fateful Oslo Slayer concert that would have taken place at an earlier time.) Varg, whose birthname is Kristian, performed with Old Funeral as “Christian.” According to Demonaz, Varg only lasted half a year with Old Funeral, which soon dissolved. According to Varg, he was only a guest member. Tore estimates that Varg played 10 shows with Old Funeral, one of which was prior to Abbath’s exit. (You can see Varg in pictures and videos that were taken during his time with Old Funeral.) Demonaz, Abbath, and Varg also formed a project called Satanel. However, Varg eschews the idea that this endeavor had been anything serious. He has described it as a “project of a couple of days,” if not one that lasted for “a few.” Varg dedicated Burzum’s third album, Hvis lyset tar oss (1994), to Demonaz and Darkthrone’s Fenriz. Demonaz and Varg’s future murder victim, Euronymous (1968-1993), of whom Immortal’s members were fond, had both been present during the recording of Varg’s debut Burzum album, Burzum (1992). Although the pair of friends helped Varg with small tasks like carry instruments, Euronymous played a guitar solo on the song “War.” Varg chose Grieghallen Studio because that is where he had recorded Old Funeral’s sole EP, Devoured Carcass (1991). This is because Old Funeral had recorded their second demo, Abduction of Limbs (1990), at Grieghallen after Tore’s father phoned his old classmate, Eirik “Pytten” Hundvin, on behalf of his son’s band. Pytten also produced Amputation’s second demo, Slaughtered in the Arms of God (1990), at around that time. Pytten would later work on Immortal’s debut EP, first three albums, and All Ye Shall Fall (2009). He has mixed, produced, mastered, and/or engineered many of the greatest black metal albums of all-time like Mayhem’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1994) and Burzum’s Filosofem (1996). It has been said that Pytten put much time into mixing the latter album while Varg was in jail. Pytten has also collaborated with bands like Gorgoroth, Enslaved, Hades Almighty, etc.
In 1992, Amputation’s Jørn Inge Tunsberg actually founded Hades Almighty as Hades. Immortal is often described as a separate venture from Amputation. However, Jørn made Immortal’s creation sound like a simple name change, as well as a parting of ways with Padden, when speaking with Shoot Me Again. In any case, Immortal was formed because Abbath and Demonaz had become dissatisfied with their pre-existing bands and decided to move on. The aim was to make “truer” and harsher music. Abbath and Demonaz wanted to be able fully commit themselves to their new band. It was Demonaz who first asked Abbath to join him based on his voice. The original Immortal quartet consisted of Jørn on guitar, Demonaz on guitar, Abbath on vocals and bass, and Armagedda on drums. (Armagedda would later assist Demonaz, with whom he had grown up, with his eponymous solo project, Demonaz, as well as Abbath with his aptly named project I.) Jørn only lasted with Immortal for the recording of their 1991 debut demo after which he joined Old Funeral. (In 1993, Jørn was sentenced to two years in jail for setting fire to the Old Åsane Church on Christmas Eve of 1992 with Varg Vikernes.)
Jørn’s demo with Immortal was highly significant in light of the fact that the second song, “Enslaved in Rot,” would inspire the name of Enslaved, which popped up in Haugesund that same year. This Immortal tape was untitled, although it is sometimes called “Suffocate,” or “Suffocate the Masses,” after the album’s opening track. This demo is also mistakenly referred to as “The Northern Upins Death.” (The reason is that the cover displays the last drawing that the late “Dead,” Per Yngve “Pelle” Ohlin, of Mayhem sent to the Immortal clan before his suicide in 1991. Dead actually labeled the drawing “The Northern Upir’s Death.” An Upir is a type of Slavic vampire. Dead was obsessed with Europe’s various vampire legends.) The Immortal logo, as featured on this EP, was drawn by Abbath’s friend, Jannicke Wiese-Hansen. Varg met Jannicke through Abbath. She would design the original Burzum logo as well as the cover of the one-man band’s debut album, Burzum (1992), for example. As an artist and a tattoo artist, Jannicke has established herself an extremely important person within the metal world. She even instigated Old Funeral’s 2015 reunion concert.
On their debut EP Immortal (1991), Immortal shifted from death metal to black metal. Once Abbath and Demonaz began painting their faces white, their music changed. Abbath only added black paint to his face due to a Kiss-inspired whim. Demonaz has always been responsible for Immortal’s lyrics. Both he and Abbath found inspiration in the forests around Bergen. Obviously, other black metal bands were inspired by Norway’s climate and nature. However, no group grapples with the harsher elements quite like Immortal. The great invention of Immortal is the fantastical, frozen kingdom known as “Blashyrkh,” which overtly dominated their lyrics from Battles in the North (1995) onward. Blashyrkh is a “profane and majestic realm” where “winter never dies.” Here, you will encounter permafrost, mountains, storms, forests, battles, demons, and even “dragonbirths.” In other words, Blashyrkh consists of “icicled peaks as far as the eye can see.” The throne of Blashyrkh is called “Mighty Ravendark.” Immortal never fails to bring a fearless energy to their music that matches the intense coldness of their lyrics, which were freezing even before the “B” word was ever mentioned. Immortal’s focus on Blashyrkh has meant that the group has remained pure. You will find images such as pentagrams and goats up through Immortal’s debut album, but otherwise, the band has steered clear of Satanism. Immortal is not freaky. They have narrowly avoided becoming geeky (even if Abbath is a massive Star Wars fan). They are certainly not sleazy. These warriors have never had a political ideology or agenda. Immortal has always been about the music. Abbath especially has proven to be a “… lover of life… not… [a] sinner.”0 Awesome IMMORTAL Songs That Are Perfect For Winter" width="754" height="862" /> Abbath and Demonaz imagining Blashyrkh.
Blizzard Beasts (1997) was the first album to showcase Immortal’s longest lasting drummer, Horgh. Although Immortal found Horgh through an advertisement placed in the local paper, they were already acquainted with him. Blizzard Beasts was also the last album to feature Demonaz and Abbath together. Demonaz, who had a job in construction, was diagnosed with tendonitis. After braving through intense pain to record Blizzard Beasts, Demonaz would be forced to relinquish his position as Immortal’s guitarist. Again, Demonaz would remain with Immortal as the group’s lyricist. Abbath would take over on guitar while sometimes playing bass as well. On July 18th, 2003, Immortal broke the news that the band’s activities would be suspended indefinitely. In the meantime, Abbath did some work in scaffolding and Demonaz was employed an advertising company for part of this hiatus. Demonaz even assisted Abbath with his aforementioned solo project/supergroup called I. However, Immortal delighted fans when they announced on 6/06/2006 that they would play at Wacken the following year.
Immortal’s comeback effort, All Shall Fall (2009), which features the amazing Apollyon on bass, turned out to be the group’s last album with Abbath. In 2015, the great frontman became involved in a battle for the rights to the Immortal name with Demonaz and Horgh. In the end, a very sad Abbath felt ousted from his own band. Since Abbath and Demonaz are family, as noted, there will be no bashing of either party here. We will merely suggest that Abbath always wins the war if humor is considered a weapon. Regarding an unfortunate public statement by Immortal, Abbath told Terrorizer the following in January 2016: “In all this time, did I ever mention if Demonaz likes to scratch his ass and balls? You don’t talk about private things like this.” Has there ever been a more endearing man than Abbath Doom Occulta?! With Abbath out of the picture, Demonaz not only stepped up as Immortal’s vocalist, but he suddenly decided that he was ready to reclaim his role as the band’s guitarist after so many years. Demonaz explained this fact to BraveWords: “I had shoulder surgery in 2012 and they discovered that one of the muscles had split, so they put everything back together and I had a recovery of six or seven months. I was able to play the guitar in a much better way than before even if it wasn’t 100% healed, so there was a big difference compared to before the surgery…” Northern Gods of Chaos (2018) has been the first and only Immortal album without Abbath so far. Demonaz stated that being able to write the band’s riffs has provided him with a new sense of freedom.
All the same, Immortal without Abbath is like Starbucks without coffee. In 2019, Demonaz registered the Immortal name as his own. This was done without Horgh’s knowledge. Thus, it was reported in 2020 that the two were engaged in a fight of their own over rights. The status of Immortal is now uncertain. Will the band continue, or is it already lying in its “wintercoffin”?Given that Abbath is open to the possibility of a reunion, perhaps allowing bygones to be bygones might not be such a bad idea?! Regardless of what the future may bring, Abbath will always be Immortal, as we have established. In 2015, Sir Eikemo formed the mind-blowingly magnificent band Abbath. The fact that Abbath is not only capable of standing on his own two feet but soars like a seraph as a solo artist should not be a source of astonishment. Abbath had carried the weight of Immortal like Atlas for many years. By all appearances, he seems to be less alone now that he has chosen new collaborators than he had been for much of Immortal’s history. Aside from having the best corpse paint and the coolest overall visual presentation, Abbath remains one of the most marvelous rock icons. He gives the most entertaining interviews and is the musician, whom we would most like to see try his hand at stand-up comedy. The frontman has inspired his adoring fans to create countless waves of memes. Abbath is also universally recognized as a wonderful human being. But forget about Abbath’s larger-than-life personality because it is really his music that makes us feel Immortal.
Now that the most brutal season of the year is upon us, it’s time to put on your Abbath ski masks, take out your Abbath snow globes, and shake things up. You can try to increase your tolerance to the cold by taking an ice bath with your Abbath soap from Kaamos Cosmetics, but you know that in the end “entropy’s victory is ensured.” We mere mortals are doomed against the elements — “the winter predicts our fall” and “the ice… it devours all.” Thus, there is no better way to celebrate our downfall than with the friendly company of metal’s most vitamin D-deficient band, Immortal. If you listen to Immortal long enough, you are sure to become a human popsicle just like Jack Torrance from The Shining. Although we love all of Immortal’s material unconditionally, today we are revealing our list of tracks that are the most likely to help you soak up the snow and add some blue to your complexion. Enjoy these 10 Immortal songs that are guaranteed to give you hypothermia.
1. “The Call of the Wintermoon”
Every song on Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism (1992) is fantastic. This album exudes fire-and-icle-breathing venom. It is pure December evil. Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism is “A Perfect Vision of the Rising Northland” — “Winter of the ages so dark, so cold that flames turn to the bluest frost.” As odd as it may seem, this album, on which “the sun freezes to dust,” had a July 1st release date. (On February 26th of that year, Darkthrone released their first “black metal” album, A Blaze in the Northern Sky, which actually consists of 3 black metal songs and 3 blackened death metal songs.) Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism is the only Immortal album to include their original drummer, Armagedda.
In a sense, one could say that “The Call of the Wintermoon” is Abbath’s first “winter” song since it is the first track on their debut album after DFM’s damp, wind-swept intro. (A version of this intro had been included on their debut EP, which we admit includes a song called “The Cold Winds of Funeral Frost” that later became a Battles in the North  bonus track.) Abbath is an absolute demon on vocals. His low, raspy screams and growls are performed with bestial élan. He sings: “Buried beneath the mountains of frost. Years of silent sorrow grim and dark. My winterwings of evil sleep in eternal nights. In death’s cold crypts of snow. The moon chimed my return. With blackstorms I came and not with winterwings.”
This song elicits obvious comparison to Mayhem’s “Freezing Moon,” which existed way before vocalist Attila Csihar recorded the version that appears on De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1994). Dead wrote this song, which was listed as “The Freezing Moon” on Live in Leipzig (released:1993, recorded:1990), in 1988. You can hear different versions, including a studio recording, with Dead’s vocals. Mayhem had a big influence of Immortal. Jørn Tunsberg, who had already been booted from Immortal by the time of DFM, told Metal Hammer that he and Demonaz went to Mayhem gig together in Jessheim in 1988 (this concert actually took place in 1990), where he believes that they heard “Freezing Moon.” (Mayhem, in fact, performed “Freezing Moon” that evening.) The show, which Abbath also attended, made a lasting impression on them. Afterwards, they ended up at Euronymous and Dead’s apartment. Jørn and a “friend” (probably Demonaz and/or Padden) had already met Pelle and Euronymous at a Slayer show for which they had travelled to Oslo.
Although we love the playful and kitsch video for “The Call of the Wintermoon,” Immortal had good reason to be angry with it. The clip was shot by a Bergen-based television company that wanted fo feature Immortal. They filmed the video with the band’s participation in less than two hours. It truly looks like a parody. Was Tommy Wiseau the director?! During Immortal’s television appearance for which the now famous video was made, the interviewer wanted to know if the musicians were Satanists. Drummer Kolgrim quickly declared that Immortal plays “holocaust metal.” (Kolgrim’s time with Immortal was extremely short-lived, and he never contributed to any of the band’s audio recordings.) Like the video, which you will see below, the pictures for Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism were taken at the ruins of the Lyse Abbey, a Cistercian monastery near Abbath’s home. In 1993, Pure Holocaust’s “Unsilent Storms in the Northern Abyss” would become Immortal’s first official music video.
2. “Blashyrk (Mighty Ravendark)”
Of course, “Mighty Ravendark” from Northern Gods of Chaos (2018), is a great song, but does it have the same je ne sais quoi and youthful exuberance as this similarly named early Immortal track? We don’t think so. Battles in the North (1995) has more character than the Abbath’s alter-ego Donald Duck. (Yes, Abbath has introduced himself as this Disney-animated hero.) Anyone who criticizes Battles in the North, clearly has a poor sense of imagination. Although Battles in the North, was Immortal’s third studio album, “Battle in the North” was supposed to be the title of their debut album. The cover of Battles in the North is simply unrivaled. Abbath has quoted David Lee Roth in jest: “It’s not about whether you win or lose, it’s how good you look.” We must say in all earnestness that the bare-shouldered Abbath and Demonaz look pretty damned great as cover boys. Although this picture looks like it was taken in a studio, it was actually taken outdoors. Abbath told Terrorizer: “My father took Demonaz and me to a glacier and took the pictures… It -15°C.”
With songs like “Cursed Realms of the Winterdemons,” Battles in the North truly is one of the best Immortal albums to help you catch a cold. Abbath played bass and drums on this release, yet he even managed to play lead guitar on one track, “Throned by Blackstorms.” This song prefigures the next album by mentioning “blizzard beasts.” When Demonaz had to abdicate his throne as the band’s guitarist, Abbath admitted that Immortal suffered a loss, even if many critics consider the first album without him, At the Heart of Winter (1999), to be Immortal’s finest effort. Thus, knowing that it would not last, the chemistry and comradely between Abbath and Demonaz as fellow musicians on Battles in the North seems especially precious. Abbath and Demonaz prancing atop rocky peeks, as you will witness in the video below, is exactly the image of Immortal that I want to cherish forever. Watch these “demons stride at the gates of Blashyrkh.” You will notice that Demonaz’s lyrics for “Blashyrk (Mighty Ravendark)” define Immortal in a nutshell.
3. “Grim and Frostbitten Kingdoms”
Like “Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark),” the video for “Grim and Frostbitten Kingdoms” appeared on the VHS cassette Masters of Nebulah Frost (1995). In this second music video, you can see Mayhem’s Hellhammer drumming for show. (Hellhammer has performed live with Immortal, but you will not find him on any of the band’s studio recordings.) “Grim and Frostbitten Kingdoms” is the second song after the title track on Battles in the North (1995). “Battles in the North” sets an irresistible tone: “… far above we reign mercilessly. Kings of the ravenrealm. Stronger than ice… Those who adhere to principle above battlelust sing your songs with dying breath…” At under 3 minutes, “Grim and Frostbitten Kingdoms” is short, but it’s sweeter than the contents of Nancy Pelosi’s freezer: “Frostbitten I became forthwith to see. Crystallized dimensions to where the unfaithful fly. You might say I’m demonized but yet not the only one. You must come to me. There are nocturnal paths to follow.”
4. “Frozen by Icewinds”
“Frozen by Icewinds” is from Immortal’s masterpiece of a sophomore album, Pure Holocaust (1993), which is quite self-evidently one of the most important black metal albums ever. Immortal has stated that they did not mean for the title to refer to Nazi war crimes. The late drummer Erik “Grim” Brødreskift is pictured on the classic cover of Pure Holocaust together with Demonaz and Abbath under the banner of Jannicke Wiese-Hansen’s logo. However, Erik did not play on this album. Abbath credited Erik, who joined the band afterwards, because he thought that having a “drummer” would give a more professional impression. Abbath had to play the drums himself due to the band’s split with Armagedda. Luckily, Abbath is a most excellent drummer as Pure Holocaust attests. Sadly, Erik was given the boot before he was able to record anything with Immortal. He joined Gorgoroth in 1995.
The enigmatic lyrics to “Frozen by Icewinds” again remind the listener of Per Yngve Ohlin’s death mysticism: “Coven of black mist sing for me. Ceremonial hymns of the purest blasphemy. At one with the earth, alone with light in my eyes. The ravens circle around my tomb as I dream the night.” Ohlin once wrote: “I know it exits really dark covens that use human sacrifices and are eating human flesh — them are those I try to find.” But who are we kidding?! Both Ohlin and Immortal learned so much from groups like the father-son collaborative effort known as Bathory. (Yes, Quorthon’s producer father, Björe Forsberg, has clarified that he and his son wrote Bathory’s songs, minus the lyrics, together.) Celtic Frost and Venom are among Immortal’s other major influences.
Every track on Pure Holocaust is a foggy, bone-chilling gem. The album will lead you to where “the light will disappear… [and] eternity’s gates open.” It is one long march “on the path to the cemetery gates.”
5. “In My Kingdom Cold”
Sons of Northern Darkness (2002) opens with the famous “One by One,” which features ex-Necrophagia’s Iscariah on bass. With such a stellar opening, it is not surprising that Sons of Northern Darkness is one of Immortal’s most beloved albums. Abbath makes his appreciation for thrash apparent on Sons of Northern Darkness as he is known to do. He plays guitar and bass on the album and, of course, sings as always. Abbath’s riffs on “In My Kingdom Cold” are so sick on that they will send you to the hospital. Some of them had been waiting for a home for two years. This song will make you feel like you are “at the mountains of madness”: “Frozen and cold… an existence I do not know… In my kingdom cold, I enter this condition. Open the gate, that’s a mountain of ice. Rising with the shadows… a cold world made for me.” Yet, this region of “unending grimness” will empower you if you allow yourself to own it: “This kingdom is mine!” One of the most remarkable things about this song is the fact that Abbath even manages to sound brutal while using “heart” as a verb thanks to the text provided by Demonaz. In a sense, “In My Kingdom Cold” is like a time machine insofar as it feels more grounded in nostalgia for the ’80s and ’90s than in the early 2000s.
“Antarctica” follows the previous song on our list. It is the penultimate track on Sons of Northern Darkness (2002) before “Beyond the North Waves.” “Antarctica” features a 2 ½+ minute intro, which glimmers with the hope of a new and “unconquerable” promised land. “Behind the gates and mighty portal of the arctic polar circle builds the frozen layer of snow. A perfect platform to grow against the seasons. The snowbelts of Antartica rise with its dark polar winterstorms.” This song’s prettiness is held in check by powerful riffs and a voice that sounds like it is tearing living flesh to shreds tendon by tendon. After you have explored “Antarctica,” you can keep yourself from melting by checking out “Arctic Swarm” from Immortal’s next album, All Shall Fall (2009) — an especially aggressive and thrashy release has been compared to Blizzard Beasts (1997).
7. “At the Heart of Winter”
At the Heart of Winter (1999) was a pivotal release for Immortal, which reflected a change of style. Peter Tägtgren produced this album at his studio, The Abyss, which is in the woods of Sweden. Immortal’s collaboration with Peter, one of metal’s foremost producers and artists, must have seemed like a godsend after Immortal’s decision to record their previous album, Blizzard Beasts (1997), at Sigma Studio, as opposed to returning to Grieghallen, backfired disastrously. Even though Abbath said that Blizzard Beasts was recorded without a producer, Henrikke Helland is technically credited. The production is so horrendous (and not in a “necro” way) that it is jaw-dropping. Blizzard Beasts is like beholding a couture dress that someone has spilled wine on. Only Abbath, Demonaz, and Horgh could manage not only to pull off such a botched recording but also to make its flaws seem fashionable. (Sigma Studio, by the way, closed in 1999.) Abbath and Demonaz displayed great genius as always on this polarizing album. Blizzard Beasts has great tracks like Mountains of Might,” “Winter of the Ages,” and who could resist “Frostdemonstorm”?! The album is under 30 minutes, and many of its songs are under 3 minutes. Immortal’s members strained themselves in the pursuit of speed after having toured with their Morbid Angel heroes. You can hear Immortal moving more towards thrash, which would play a greater part in their future releases. Immortal also indicated that they were moving towards a more melodic direction. Blizzard Beasts also betrays a death metal influence. This experimental album was not only a bridge between two masterpieces, Battles in the North and At the Heart of Winter, but it also divides Immortal’s history in two separate eras.
At the Heart of Winter is beautiful, intrepid, regal, and grandiose. Hate it or love it, Abbath incorporated synthesizers on this highly polished magnum opus. This album begs the question: What is black metal?! At the Heart of Winter even has a bit of a progressive feel. It was the first album not to feature Abbath and Demonaz on the cover, and that’s a damned shame! Again, it was the first album not to feature Demonaz on guitar, which means that Abbath did everything, except for the drums and lyric-writing. As we have said, many people consider At the Heart of Winter to be Immortal’s greatest album. Yet, when Abbath recorded At the Heart of Winter, he expected and hoped for Demonaz’s full recovery, which never came.
“At the Heart of Winter” is the album’s penultimate track, which follows “Where Light and Dark Don’t Differ,” before “Years of Silent Sorrow.” Abbath told Paste Magazine that the main riff for “At the Heart of Winter” came to him while he was thinking about AC/DC’s “Hells Bells.” The song opens on a soft, almost dainty note, but the paradisal landscape that it establishes soon becomes a source of sublime awe and reverence. “Blashyrkh mighty be your name. Victorious a kingdom we made with strength and pride all the way you are at the heart of winter.” This song has a great sense of clarity. Immortal has somewhat moved from darkness to emitting a glittering luminosity. “Winterlandscapes pure and clear a walk into the glacial valleys deep under forests alive only my torches fire light…”
8. “The Sun No Longer Rises”
No. We did not forget about “Solarfall,” which is not only another one of Immortal’s best tracks, but it will also make you shiver uncontrollably: “See the ice in which we craft our souls. Life’s frozen cries the dark benight your kind.” However, we think that the Pure Holocaust (1993) track “The Sun No Longer Rises” is an even more “Grim and Frostbitten” pick. “The Sun No Longer Rises” directly follows #4 on our list. Abbath croaks: “The earth is freezing, as I walk it become[s] colder. Forever descending in a place of the moon… Sempitempernal woods wait only for me. A path opens clearly… To the north and into eternal winters to the north in the grip of eternal frost.” We love the intimacy and the black magic that this Pytten-produced track exudes. Changes in speed will make you feel disoriented as if you have gone from rushing through the woods to stumbling over a branch to being steadily transported to a witch’s abode on horseback, etc. The fact that the heart of the song is not rushed, makes it seem all the more self-assured and menacing. Abbath sounds like a maleficent Frog Prince on vocals. Yet, Abbath capitalizes on the opportunity to change things up and go full out Blitzkreig on drums to close the song much as he began it. If you ever feel your love for black metal waning, “The Sun No Longer Rises” will restore your faith in the subgenre: “I believe, I believe, in tragedies. I believe, I believe, in desecration.” This song will make you feel like it’s still 1993.
9. “Cryptic Winterstorms”
“Cryptic Winterstorms” is an icy jewel in the diadem of Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism (1991). It is positioned between “Unholy Forces of Evil” and “Cold Winds of Funeral Dust.” “Cryptic Winterstorms” is as spellbinding as it is ominous: “I long for eternal frost and black winters. Asleep is the cold lakes awake in the stars in the sky. And silent the valleys in the North. Where I once were a proud warrior. Where I belong where I bath my soul in doomfirefog. Where I ride deaths cold winds in the battles in the North.” “Cryptic Winterstorms” makes you feel as though you have been catapulted back to the Middle Ages in your ’90s leather vest, bullet belt, and spiked gauntlets. Overall, this is a pretty slow song, yet changes in pace build enormous tension and make you feel as though you are descending into- and out of madness, as was the case with the last song on our list, albeit in a very different way. As a kid, Demonaz was first inspired by Tony Iommi before developing a taste for fast thrash metal. On each Immortal album up until Blizzard Beasts (1997), Demonaz pushed himself to increase his speed. Yet, there is a reason why a lot of black metal fans hold Immortal's brooding early work in high regard. If there is one thing that Black Sabbath teaches us, it’s the power of taking one’s time.
10. “Withstand the Fall of Time”
Again, At the Heart of Winter (1999) was the first time that Peter Tägtgren worked with Immortal. He would produce four more Immortal albums. In 2019, Immortal and Tägtgren’s Hypocrisy issued the split release Valley of the Damned / Hordes of War (2009). You can hear Tägtgren playing bass on Immortal’s Northern God of Chaos (2018).
“Withstand the Fall of Time” is the epic opening to an epic album, which closes with “Years of Silent Snow.” We can’t stop extolling the genius of Abbath’s riffs. “Withstand the Fall of Time” is a heroic 8 ½ minutes of excellence and endurance. “Hardening claws of cold tell me we are closer to colder times. Through the days of bitterness still the tundra lay untouched.”
Abbath — “Winterbane”
When Olve Eikemo went solo and formed Abbath in 2015, metal fans everywhere suffered from an overdose of awesomeness. Abbath’s triumphant debut album, Abbath, was the highlight of 2016! It oozes enthusiasm, an unbounded sense of freedom, and a bombastic feeling of power. May we be so bold as to say that this wicked album even has a friendly ’70s feel. Abbath will not only help you blow off some steam, but it will also make you feel as though you are as big of a god as Mr. Eikemo himself. Eikemo wrote all of Abbath’s material. A significant portion of what wound up on Abbath was supposed to be on the next Immortal album, which Eikemo had been eager to make. The wonderful “King ov Hell,” Tom Cato Visnes, was Abbath’s first bassist. Due to Visnes and Gaahl’s battle with Infernus for the rights to Gorgoroth, Visnes could relate to what Eikemo had been gone through with Immortal. Eikemo had asked Visnes to join Immortal in 2005. Instead, Visnes worked with Eikemo on I. It would be impossible to beat the hellacious “King–Abbath” duo that helped make Abbath a sensational album. Unfortunately yet understandably, King left Abbath in 2018 because he objected to Simon Dancaster’s Carl Gustav Jung-inspired lyrics for Outstrider (2019). King found Jung’s connection to Christian mysticism to be incompatible with the band. Abbath has known Simon since the ’90s when he the latter a band called Bastard Son of Buddha. Simon is a philosopher and a poet with an apparent enthusiasm for flesh hook suspension. The British expat even collaborated with Immortal on Blizzard Beasts (1997). However, he was arrested and jailed in 1997 on false terrorism charges. “Creature,” the Irish-born Kevin Foley, was Abbath’s original drummer. He is an absolute beast. However, Creature bailed on the band as well over a month before Abbath (2016) was even released.
“Winterbane” is wedged between Abbath’s killer opening, “To War!,” and the show-stopping “Ashes of the Damned.” The title “Winterbane” can be found within Blizzard Beast’s “Nebular Ravens Winter,” a desperately needed cover of which was included on Abbath as a bonus track. Abbath’s “Nebular Ravens Winter” had already been released as a music video in 2015. We would say that “Winterbane” is catchier than Omicron, but that would be distasteful, so instead we will say that it’s groove more infectious than herpes.