Immortal’s War Against All: thrilling riff-powered noise from Norway‘s black metal crusaders

Album review: one-man army Demonaz delivers the black metal goods on Immortal’s new album War Against All

Immortal: War Against All album cover
(Image: © Nuclear Blast)

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The 10th studio album from Norway’s most unmistakable black metal entity is the second since the departure of co-founder Abbath in 2015 and the first with Demonaz as the last man standing, after the departure of drummer Horgh. 2018’s Northern Chaos Gods offered convincing proof that Immortal remain committed to delivering the kind of thrilling, riff-powered black metal that can evolve with the times without losing its connection to the elemental spirits of its notorious second wave. Given the turbulence between Demonaz and his former bandmates, it’s easy to see the title as both a standard-issue Thunder-god metaphor and a personal manifesto. Regardless, Immortal’s latest is an unremittingly brutal campaign with an absolutely ruthless sense of conviction.

Thunders Of Darkness, Blashyrkh My Throne and the title track erupt with raging blastbeats, taut riffage and Demonaz’s icy shriek, recalling Immortal at their most primal – all speed, precision and fury. Other tracks, like No Sun, Return To Cold and Wargod ratchet the tempo down, letting the grinding, distorted riffs take centre stage alongside a vacuum-tight rhythm section that unleashes more groove than a Norwegian black metal album has a right to wield. The album’s undoubted peak is the emotionally wrought, seven-minute instrumental Norlandihr, whose shimmering melody builds to a crystalline solo that glides over a raging rhythm beneath. Every tankard in Valhalla will be raised high.

Immortal aren’t going to range too far outside of the margins when it comes to the black metal blueprint, but that’s not to say the album is rote. War Against All boasts riffs as catchy as anything the band has ever released, and there’s plenty of depth across the tracks. Immortal might now be a one-man band – with help from Gaahls Wyrd’s Kevin Kvåle and Enslaved’s Ice Dale – but Demonaz clearly intends on making a stand for the ages.

Joe Daly

Hailing from San Diego, California, Joe Daly is an award-winning music journalist with over thirty years experience. Since 2010, Joe has been a regular contributor for Metal Hammer, penning cover features, news stories, album reviews and other content. Joe also writes for Classic Rock, Bass Player, Men’s Health and Outburn magazines. He has served as Music Editor for several online outlets and he has been a contributor for SPIN, the BBC and a frequent guest on several podcasts. When he’s not serenading his neighbours with black metal, Joe enjoys playing hockey, beating on his bass and fawning over his dogs.