Demonaz-helmed Immortal blast back with wintry rage, loads of riffs on jagged ‘War Against All’

A few weeks ago, a friend messaged me to ask if I heard there was a new Immortal record about to be released. Yes, I knew. Wasn’t terribly interested since only Demonaz remained, and this seemed like a very bad idea that could put a sour taste in people’s mouths. I hadn’t heard a single track when I made this declaration, and it turns out I’m a fucking dipshit because Demonaz knows what he’s doing.

Yes, “War Against All” finds us with just founding member Demonaz at the helm of this ship (Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal of Enslaved provides bass while Kevin Kvåle of Gaahls Wyrd is on drums for the recording), things pick up where “Northern Chaos Gods” left off and even visits more of the rawer moments from the band’s vast discography. Over eight tracks, Demonaz spins more harrowing tales from Blashyrkh, the fictional world that drives all of Immortal’s songs and records and leaves goddamn tire marks all over the faces of those who didn’t think this was possible. I’m a fool but a happy one, because I’ve long loved Immortal, and having yet another ripping serving is perfect timing for a mental escape.

“War Against All” rips open with a blizzard of riffs, a storm that doesn’t subside very often on this record. Demonaz’s creaky shrieks plaster as the speed tramples and the soloing boils, bringing some uncharacteristic heat to Blashyrkh. The playing drives and gets more aggressive, heading into “Thunders of Darkness” that gets off to a devastating start, slashing its way through the ice. The scene is chaotic as the guitars increase the intensity, the vocals spat out at a rapid clip, the tempo raging with energy and swallowing you whole. “Wargod” brings channeled guitars and a thrashy pace, the growls corroding before the darkness fully envelopes, hammering with full-throttled punishment. Guitars freeze as the playing guts, Demonaz howls a very telling, “I am immortal!” and then everything blasts to a blunt finish. “No Sun” launches with more great guitar work that makes blood rush, the best of it coming over the bridge. The chorus jolts as melodic fire explodes, power washing over everything, the energy expanding and suddenly disappearing.

“Return to Cold” arises amid a glorious haze of guitars as the shrieks crush, and airy melodies sweep aggressively. Strong, frosty thrashing drives through, guitars trickle and then are ripped apart, and the tempo continuously surges and mashes, fading into the heart of the storm. “Nordlandihr” is an instrumental track and an interesting one, opening clean and then pushing into jarring guitars, a moody surge running into to spiraling energies. The track then hits high gear as the temps rise, the leads get more oppressive, and then we’re back into a deep freeze that ends in darkness. “Immortal,” yes, we finally have a band anthem, is striking and urgent, the drums rumbling viciously, Demonaz wailing, “My blood is frozen, I dwell in the cold.” The playing continues at a rampaging pace, the chorus tearing back in, the piece ending viciously. Closer “Blashyrkh My Throne” drips in before raspy howls jolt, riffs dominating with ease. The chorus is simple but effective, the playing continually dragging you to the most frigid terrain, leading to last metallic burst that drives an ice dagger into its chest.

Yes, Demonaz once again has defied the doubters with “War Against All,” a sinewy, devastating record that stands as one of their most sonically violent. The goings on in Blashyrkh will remain relevant and crushing as long as its creator is at the helm, and that’s a lesson that’s learned in full on this record. Immortal stand the test of time, and it’s clear more chapters may remain based on the power of this stunning, forceful collection.

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