Frostbitten fantasy kingdoms, Spinal Tap mishaps and kidnapped cats - forget Lords Of Chaos, we want to see the Immortal movie: "I’ve even been offered to do it, but Blashyrkh belongs to Immortal"

Demonaz of Immortal
(Image credit: Press/Nuclear Blast)

Sons of Northern darkness, lords of the fictional, ice-bound realm of Blashyrkh, and one of the most defiant, iconic bands in black metal, Bergen’s Immortal were, for 24 years, a singular brotherhood forged around co-founders guitarist/lyricist Demonaz and frontman Abbath. 

Demonaz was forced to take a back seat for more than a decade due to acute tendonitis, but although he was cured by 2013, he and Abbath underwent a much-publicised split two years later, leaving Demonaz to resurrect the band with himself as frontman. As new album War Against All raises its banners, we sent him into battle with your questions. 

Metal Hammer line break

How did your move from Bergen to the countryside [in 2019] affect how you wrote music for Immortal?
Adelina Ravenwraith, email 

“When I was living in a city, I was always trying to escape from it. I like the city, but the countryside feels more free. Where I’m living now, it’s mountains everywhere, there is snow on the top, and I’m at the foot of the glacier where we recorded the All Shall Fall video. So it’s easy to write Immortal music here.” 

What are Immortal’s greatest accomplishments and what are your biggest blunders?
Dustin Brand Miller, Facebook 

“The biggest accomplishment is being able to re-establish the band. The vibe was really hungry on All Shall Fall [the last Immortal album with Abbath, released in 2009], but after that we didn’t know where to go, and couldn’t find our way back. I had to find the true spirit of what this band meant to me and Abbath from the beginning. 

The biggest blunder was to go from [legendary early black metal producer] Pytten and [equally legendary Bergen concert hall and set of studios] Grieghallen to the person who produced [1997’s] Blizzard Beasts. We thought that the new studio, [Sigma, also in Bergen] would make us a better record production-wise, but we ended up with a producer who couldn’t handle what we wanted.”

Hammer: What was so special about Pytten as a producer? 

“He took us seriously. I asked him if we could do the acoustic guitar in the basement, because there was a big sound from the stairs in the hall there, and he went away and he came back with 100-metre-long cables, and said, ‘Yeah, let’s go do it’, instead of just adding reverb. 

He wanted it to sound natural, he didn’t want to put a lot of effects on it afterwards. So I recorded the lead solo on The Call Of The Wintermoon [from 1992 debut album Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism], on the stage of the concert hall. He was willing to do whatever it took to make our vision come true.” 

What was it like being part of the black metal scene in the early 90s?
Karl Blepp, Facebook 

“We were in touch with the other bands like Mayhem, and there was a subcultural spirit, but we couldn’t see how it would become, so we just did what we wanted to do. We were very fearless. It was, like, follow your instincts, no matter what. 

I remember when we were playing Denmark on the Fuck Christ tour in 1993 with Rotting Christ and Blasphemy – it was the first black metal tour and there were 40 people there. Immortal were headlining that night, and me and Abbath said to each other, ‘Let’s blow their fucking minds and pretend it’s 15,000 people.’ We did three encores, because people were banging their heads off. The next time we played there it was packed. It’s that attitude I remember.” 

Have you spoken to Abbath lately?
Lucy Dwyer, Facebook 

“It’s been a while now. But we were talking on the phone about a year ago. I think it’s not a problem with us, it’s more like a problem now and then, like when the split happened. But it’s now 10 years ago, so we just moved on. We’re always going to have a connection.” 

How different is today’s Immortal from your solo project, Demonaz?
Xenomarc, Twitter 

“It’s very different. The solo album was something I did when Immortal were on a break from 2003 to 2007. I’d always wanted to do an album like Bathory’s [1996 concept album] Blood On Ice, or like Manowar, with that old heavy metal flame. But the difference is that that is not Immortal.” 

If a movie was made set in Blashyrkh, who would direct it?
Aiden Masters, email 

“Francis Ford Coppola, or maybe a mix between a horror director and Peter Jackson. A lot of people ask me if there is going to be a movie or book, and I’ve even been offered to do it, but Blashyrkh belongs to Immortal. Nobody else is doing this, so it’s unique to us. I’m trying to protect my expression and keep Immortal at its best.”

Are you a fan of how black metal has evolved?
Chris Stewart, Facebook 

“A lot of bands changed their direction, and for me, that is not the way to go. I don’t want Immortal to be more progressive or become more modern. I try to find a balance, keeping the old recipe and still delivering something different. It’s more work to find the right production each time than it is to write the music sometimes.”

What’s your favourite tour memory?
Hannah Webb, email 

“We were playing in Germany, and Abbath and me were coming onstage from opposite sides, but there was no sound in my guitar, and my leg got stuck in the mixer on the side. I was standing there and Abbath was playing along, so it was just the bass and the drums. When I got out, I pretended like it was nothing. And then after a while, there was no drums, and then we look up and there’s no one there. Horgh had fallen behind the drum kit. It was Immortal’s Spinal Tap moment.” 

Is it true somebody once kidnapped your cat?
Bex Eccles, email 

“Yes. I bought a house in the city and there was a cat already there. But then one day it disappeared, and there was a letter on the front door stating that this cat had not been taken care of, and if I wanted her back I had to treat her better. But the truth is, I had just adopted it. But when it came back, someone had stabbed it with a knife, in the stomach. So I took her to the vet and fixed her up, and she lived for four years after. It ended up in the papers.” 

How much have you spent on make-up since the beginning of your career?
Jim Prgd, Facebook 

“More than you.”

What did you do to heal your tendonitis?
Sam Saalfeld, Facebook 

“I had problems with the left arm, but I discovered later that the problem was in my shoulder. A muscle had split off, so it had to be sewn back. After that, it was another two years before the arm was right. That time without playing guitar was a nightmare. The Damned In Black period was the worst. I thought I wouldn’t come back, and you can hear that on the album [released in March 2000]. But then we pulled our shit together and wrote [2002’s] Sons Of Northern Darkness. We were really inspired, and we thought, ‘OK, we’re going to make it no matter what.’” 

Do you genuinely enjoy being the Immortal vocalist, or would you prefer the guitarist/songwriter role again?
Tom Davies, Facebook 

“A good question. I always wrote the lyrics for how the singing should be, so for me it’s very natural. I hadn’t thought about it until I got the question now.” 

What music do you listen to other than metal?
AIndedark, Twitter 

“I’ve been listening to music from the Conan movies, and Howard Shore’s [concert suite] Concerning Hobbits. He’s flawless. Usually music has to have some kind of dark essence to it. If I drink whisky, and I’m in a relaxed mood, I might listen to some old Frank Sinatra, when there’s a bit of depression hanging over the album.” 

Will the melting of the ice at the poles of the Earth affect Immortal’s next studio album?
Eleftherios Pantazis, Facebook 

“It will make me work even harder to give people an impression of how important it is to mix this music with those feelings of nature. It’ll definitely affect the next album, and it will have to be even better, because I have to focus and remind people what raw nature feels like.” 

Will Immortal ever tour again?
David Long, Facebook 

“The honest answer is that we haven’t had the time to sit down and work it out, but there are a lot of opportunities. We have to fit it around the plans of the other guys who played on the album – Ice Dale from Enslaved and Kevin [Kvåle] from Gaahls Wyrd. If it feels good, and it’s something we can do properly, I want to do it.”

War Against All is out now via Nuclear Blast.

Jonathan Selzer

Having freelanced regularly for the Melody Maker and Kerrang!, and edited the extreme metal monthly, Terrorizer, for seven years, Jonathan is now the overseer of all the album and live reviews in Metal Hammer. Bemoans his obsolete superpower of being invisible to Routemaster bus conductors, finds men without sideburns slightly circumspect, and thinks songs that aren’t about Satan, swords or witches are a bit silly.