Northern Chaos Gods
(Nuclear Blast Records)
When Immortal vocalist/guitarist Abbath Doom Occulta (Olve Eikemo) announced his less-than-amicable departure from the pioneering Black Metal icons in 2015 (following a protracted a legal battle over the rights to the Immortal trademark), the long-term future of the Bergen, Norway-born group appeared all too precarious. The situation was further compounded by Abbath allegedly utilizing completed tracks as the basis for his self-titled solo debut, leaving the notoriously slow-gestating act at a crossroads. Fortunately for all parties involved, founding members Demonaz Doom Occulta and Horgh chose to forge ahead as a duo, boldly re-grouping with Demonaz now handling all vocals and, perhaps most notably, also contributing guitars for the first time since Blizzard Beasts (1997). At last unleashing the often mighty Northern Chaos Gods, their first studio effort in nearly a decade (!), the 'fearsome twosome' now appears entirely destined for a long-overdue career renaissance.
On the brilliant Northern Chaos Gods (2018), an expertly assembled eight song collection of Black Metal, each track, beginning with the impossibly deafening “Northern Chaos Gods” and the delightfully speed-of-light “Into Battle Ride”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of all parties involved, myself most definitely included. Wasting little--if any--time re-affirming their rightful place atop the hierarchy of the genre, the group flexes their more-than-considerable creative muscles early and often, reminding us all of their lyrical and compositional abilities. Capitalizing on the success of the equally ingenious 'comback' All Shall Fall (2009), the group offers an idealistic representation of their classic tonalities sans the unapologetic nostalgia that could have unbderstandably tinged the proceedings. Yielding a series of scalding auditory excursions that are as fine-tuned as they are overwhelming, they gloat with a renewed and undeniably well-deserved air of self-confidence.
Continuing with the seething, blood-thirsty tirade “Gates To Blashyrkh” and the blasphemous statement of intention “Grim And Dark”, the newly-rejuvenated combination of vocalist/guitarist Demonaz Doom Occulta (Harald Nævdal) and drummer Horgh (Reidar Horghagen) steamrolls ahead at what can only be described as a carefully-calculated pace. Offering a bold and daring return to their bleak, frequently full-throttle Black Metal roots, Demonaz and Horgh quickly dispense with the quasi-pleasantries of the past (i.e. “One By One” and “In My Kingdom Cold” from Sons Of Northern Darkness). Seemingly re-invigorated without Abbath, the group drives home each key focal point via a seamless blend of now trademark vocal histrionics, blistering fretwork and imaginatively punishing rhythms. Wisely avoiding the desperate 'reinvent the wheel' mentality of their few remaining contemporaries, the group breathlessly bestows the proverbial goods upon their oft-feral constituents.
Co-Produced and Mixed by the acclaimed Peter Tägtgren (Bloodbath, Conquest, Hypocrisy) at the Ludvika, Sweden-based Abyss Studios (Amon Amarth, Children Of Bodom, To/Die/For), other standouts, including the relentlessly pummeling lamentation “Where Mountains Rise” and the maddeningly infectious terminus “Mighty Ravendark”, only further reinforce their rightful place as bona fide forefathers--and in some regards, steadfast curators--of the genre. With the group now finding itself on the cusp of a genuine creative re-birth, they deliver a distilled essence of their well-rehearsed multifariousness while remaining both easily accessible and digestible throughout. However, what ultimately renders the nearly lethal gem that is so often Northern Chaos Gods one of the finest all-new Black Metal releases in recent memory (comparable with the Enslaved Below The Lights or Dødsengel Mirium Occultum) is the level of conviction these breathless indulgences are so effortlessly unveiled.
But is it Sons Of Northern Darkness, Vol. II? Absolutely not. Fortunately, such juxtapositions are inherently unnecessary (i.e. the proverbial 'apples and oranges' argument). Although we're obviously late to the game with our praisings (Northern Chaos Gods was issued world-wide on 07/06/18), the majority--if not all--of the decidedly epic wares contained herein are seemingly guaranteed to appeal to even the most pessimistic of die-hard purists. While only time will tell if the group is indeed capable of succeeding on a long-term basis without the more-than-considerable presence of Abbath, their ceaseless dedication to honing their already razor-sharp tradecraft all but guarantees the impressively enduring duo renewed prosperities. Thus, if you have once again found yourself in search of refreshing alternative to the painfully blasé atrocities of the so-called underground, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane salve for what ails you. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
Northern Chaos Gods (2018)
The Seventh Date Of Blashyrkh (DVD) (2010)
All Shall Fall (2009)
Live At BB Kings Club New York (DVD) (2003)
Sons Of Northern Darkness (2002)
Damned In Black (2000)
At The Heart Of Winter (1999)
Blizzard Beasts (1997)
Battles In The North (1995)
Pure Holocaust (1993)
Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism (1992)
Immortal (EP) (1991)
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