Immortal - All Shall Fall
Nuclear Blast
Black Metal
8 songs (40:10)
Release year: 2009
Immortal, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by James
Major event

So here it is, after having been in the works for seemingly forever: All Shall Fall, unquestionably the black metal event of the year. It's been a good few years since Abbath, Horgh and new recruit Apollyon (he of blackened thrashers Aura Noir) reunited under the banner of Immortal, and seven whole years since their last assault, the glorious Sons Of Northern Darkness. As you'd expect from a return from one of black metal's major players, All Shall Fall has been subject to a remarkable amount of secrecy. Promos have been incredibly thin on the ground, if they even exist at all, and bar a teaser riff played by Abbath on a Guitar World DVD, nothing from the album, to my knowledge, was aired to the public before release date. These measures seem to have worked, however, as All Shall Fall managed to avoid any early leaks, remarkable for such a hotly anticipated release in this day and age. But after all this time, do Immortal still have their grim and frostbitten magic?

Despite Abbath throwing around comparisons to 1997's blazingly fast Blizzard Beasts, All Shall Fall continues in the same bombastic path the band have been going down since At The Heart Of Winter. After an extended noise intro, the title track marches out of the speakers with more pomp and circumstance than any black metal band this side of Dimmu Borgir (though Immortal have wisely chosen to avoid the symphonic approach). Immortal are back, and they've announced their return with perhaps the most sword-wavingly grandiose track they've ever written. The influence of Viking-era Bathory is strong, and I'm sure I can hear some Hammerheart-esque choirs buried in the mix. There's something subtly different about the album as a whole though. Most songs won't grab you quite as instantly as much of Sons Of Northern Darkness, the band going back to the slightly more complex approach of At The Heart Of Winter. Elsewhere, elements of Abbath's sadly-dormant I project show up in the subtly more rocking approach of The Rise Of Darkness. The band are keen to show they've not lost their black metal fury, with Hordes Of War being a roaring thrasher every bit as powerful as the Immortal of old.

But it's on Norden On Fire that Immortal really get into gear, writing a fist pumping-tapestry of riffs that ranks among their finest work, with it's climax in particular boasting a ten-ton riff to die for. Elsewhere on the track, we have soaring guitar melodies, Horgh pounding the skins with mechanical precision, and Abbath sounding like a warlord leading his troops into battle. It's sure to go down a storm in a live setting, and in a large festival environment (such as the band's headlining slot at this years Wacken festival) it's sure to be cataclysmic. And from this song on the record truly hits its stride, each track being a pounding black metal anthem (indeed, Immortal being one of the few black metal bands who can truly be said to write true anthems). Sure, the same clean-guitar-into-epic-mid-paced-riffage motif could be said to be overused, but it must be said it's used to fantastic effect.

The first couple of songs on the album don't gel quite as well as the rest of it, which is why the album misses out on a top score, but the second part more than makes up for it. Sure, those who view the band to have fallen into self-parody since 1999 will have plenty to complain about. Demonaz' lyrics are the same tales of frost, ravens, winter and battle as before, but who cares when they're tied to refrains as good as that of Mount North? And yes, much of the album ploughs the same mid-paced furrow, but Immortal are masters of their craft. Not quite their best, but it's an album the band can truly be proud of, and ensures their place alongside Cynic and Obituary as bands who's comeback was truly worthwhile. And quite frankly, if you don't grin like a schoolchild at the climax of Unearthly Kingdom, silly spoken word bit and all, you're just not metal.

Killing Songs :
All bar the first two.
James quoted 89 / 100
Alex quoted 87 / 100
Kyle quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Immortal that we have reviewed:
Immortal - Northern Chaos Gods reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Immortal - Damned in Black reviewed by Jared and quoted 87 / 100
Immortal - Battles in the North reviewed by Tyler and quoted 83 / 100
Immortal - Pure Holocaust reviewed by Kyle and quoted CLASSIC
Immortal - Blizzard Beasts reviewed by Kyle and quoted 86 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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