Words and pictures by Kyle Moore, the Metal Magnus
The Gramercy Theater – New York, NY
February 19th, 2011
I was fortunate enough to cover Immortal’s concert in Brooklyn nearly a year ago, and at the time I didn’t expect I’d ever get to see them live again. But to my delight, the true sons of northern darkness came back to the States for a second tour. This time, it would be in a far superior venue to their last digs, where there wasn’t anything to keep rambunctious fans off the stage (one fan even stopped Abbath from playing to give him a hug.) It was an appropriately frigid winter night in the Big Apple, a sudden frost that dispelled what had previously been a very warm week. No doubt we can thank Immortal for bringing the icy cold of Blashyrkh with them to the States.
Like their previous show, Immortal only had one opening band precede them. Absu is a self described “mythological occult metal” band, though at a casual listen you wouldn’t distinguish them much from many other black metal bands. Their music was decent, if somewhat unmemorable. One odd thing is that their drummer is also their frontman and bandleader, though their bassist took about 40% of the vocal duties as well. Still, props to “Proscriptor McGovern” for being able to nail his blast beats while shrieking continuously about mythical deities. I wonder when he gets a chance to breathe…
After a brutally long wait of around fifty minutes after Absu’s exit, Immortal’s intro finally brought the listless crowd to life. Abbath and company then rampaged on stage with numerous cheeky poses and grimaces to the delight of all. Abbath has a well-deserved reputation for being a comical figure in what is otherwise a very deadpan genre (no pun intended,) which some people find aggravating and probably not evil enough. However, I find his shtick to be extremely refreshing in a world dominated by guys who take themselves way too seriously. To my surprise, Abbath seems to be very popular with the ladies – but I suppose you need a good reason to be wearing leather pants as tight as he does, no? To his credit, his leather-and-spikes outfit was exceptionally menacing without being at all tacky
Musically, Immortal was in sharper form than the year before. Abbath’s trademark sloppiness at guitar was considerably tamed, though his soloing is still pretty shabby. Immortal isn’t a band one goes to see for shredding – one goes to see the world crystallize in the malevolent ice of Norwegian black metal. The otherwise exceptional drummer Horgh dropped his sticks not once, but twice (!) during the classic song “Withstand the Fall of Time,” though his furiously fast feet never stopped his always-impressive double bass work. Immortal focused mostly on the second half of their long and storied career, excluding many classic numbers from their set. Abbath complained of a curfew that may have cut their set short, but that didn’t seem to shorten the unbearably long set change that certainly took time away from playing.
All in all, Immortal puts on a fine show. Their fans sold out the 500-seat Gramercy well in advance, and at considerably more expensive tickets than the average metal fan is accustomed to paying. Abbath made no mention of a new album, or of a future tour, but it’s my hope that both things will come to be in the near future.
All Shall Fall
Sons of Northern Darkness
The Rise of Darkness
Damned in Black
Hordes to War
Norden on Fire
In My Kingdom Cold
Grim and Frostbitten Kingdoms
Withstand the Fall of Time
One by One
Beyond the North Waves
The Sun No Longer Rises