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Battles In The North
Released: 1995, Osmose Productions
Editors Note: Metal-Rules.com was founded in 1995 as a forward thinking site. Our goal is, and always has been, to support Real Metal. The decision was made that very rarely do we ever go back and review an album from before 1995. Does the world really need another CD review of Master Of Puppets, Powerslave or Screaming For Vengeance? We don’t think so. We have always supported what is happening now.
Starting in January, 2014, as we head towards the 20th Anniversary of Metal-Rules.com, we are looking back and filling in a few gaps in the review database. We want to complete the post-1995 review catalogue of some of the bands that we have supported since 1995, when very few, if any websites were supporting real Metal. It’s fun to go back and revisit some of these albums that we did not review when they were first released. Enjoy!
I’ve said before that not every fan can follow every band. Immortal is one of those bands I did not follow for years. I bought the debut on cassette and loved it but then for reasons that inexplicable, even to me, I didn’t buy another Immortal album for 20 years. Perhaps it was because they were too big, too many people fawned over them, they were the poster boys for ‘Black Metal’ and as time went on, more and more people made fun of their image via various internet memes and so on. I lumped them in with the Cradle/Dimmu sound, namely bands that started as Black Metal and quickly evolved into something else. I’m not a Black Metal elitist by any means, I love Cradle And Dimmu and do not fault them for changing, so it is perplexing why I just never wrapped my head around Immortal.
In 2013 I met a huge Immortal fan, he had all the stuff, picture discs and tons of cool memorabilia and as we chatted he told me how awesome they really are. I promised myself, and him, I would give the band a chance. Shortly after, I bought three more Immortal albums, I found some nice original pressings on Osmose in a used store and my conversion to the cult was pretty quick.
BATTLES IN THE NORTH came out in 1995 and it would be the last time we saw the old Immortal logo in action on the front cover. The booklet is very nice, the sliver ink on white background creating the intended cold look and feel to the packaging. Of course many versions have the track sequence out of order. Lyrically the band treads the same left hand path with tales of wintery storms but the image is pushed even more to the fore. The theme of Blashyrkh occurs again taking the title of the final cut on the album. The band was essentially a duo at this point as they returned to the same studio and used the production services of Eirik Hundvin again.
Following in the footsteps of PURE HOLOCAUST BATTLES IN THE NORTH is a relentless, grinding frost-bitten war-machine. The 10 song, 36 minute blast of icy wind is full speed at all times, with no compromise. The throaty croak of Abbath is unmistakable, and somewhat different than the whispery hiss and shrieks of many of the contemporary vocalists of the time. I have read criticisms that the album is not diverse enough, and although I understand the comments, but I don’t feel that way. For a short album of hyper-blasting Blackness, it is supposed to be utterly atonal and have the simple riffs and drumming wash over the listener, and it accomplishes that very well.
At times I find it hard to articulate the sound of raw Black Metal, when often the intended effect is to enjoy and not over-analyze, tones and tempos. BATTLES IN THE NORTH is an unpleasant (that’s a good thing) listening experience that leaves me cold. Immortal has won the battle for my ears.
1. Battles in the North
2. Grim and Frostbitten Kingdoms
3. Descent into Eminent Silence
4. Throned by Blackstorms
5. Moonrise Fields of Sorrow
6. Cursed Realms of the Winterdemons
7. At the Stormy Gates of Mist
8. Through the Halls of Eternity
9. Circling Above in Time Before Time
10. Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark)
Abbath- Vocals, Bass, Drums
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