`Damned in Black’, Immortal’s 6th studio album and follow-up to 1999’s monumental `At the Heart of Winter’, is a stellar release full of some of the most memorable riffs and tightest playing imaginable. `At the Heart of Winter’ saw Immortal moving in a different direction from their previous efforts. With Demonaz leaving the band as guitarist due to injury, we saw Abbath taking over and leading Immortal to a slicker, more mid-tempo sound. `Damned in Black’ follows in `At the Heart of Winter’s footsteps although it has been described as its angry older brother. I agree completely. It is faster, more aggressive, yet it still has very much the same feel. Abbath’s vocals are slightly different on this release, a little rougher, slightly less troll-like than on previous releases. I liked how they sounded on `At the Heart of Winter’, but they are even better here. Let’s just say that Popeye is in the house! The guitar on this album has a nice, thick thrashy sound. It is a lot warmer than the razor-wire insanity that was their sound on older releases. Here it has more definition and makes the outstanding riffs stand out even more. Revel in the pompous majestic opening riff of the title track `Damned in Black’. Check out the first four riffs from `Against the Tide (In the Arctic World)’, they are all absolutely brilliant! But the best riffs of the album, coupled with a headbang-worthy tempo change, are the first two of `Wrath From Above’. This is why metal is king!The drum work also stands out very much on this release. Horgue gets a chance to show his stuff with many complex rhythms and loads blast beats. I’m not saying that this is a fast album, a lot of it is mid-paced (by black metal standards, anyway) but there are definitely some chaotic `Blizzard Beasts’-style sub-zero riffs present on this album. As for keyboards, they are virtually nonexistent. They are so low in the mix that you can barely hear them. Not that this is a bad thing, they poke through when important and they still contribute to the overall feel of the album. Overall this is an excellent release from Immortal. Don’t be put off by the short running time of this album. Every track kills. Quality over quantity here. Would you have passed on `Reign in Blood’ because it’s only 30 minutes long? I don’t think so. If you did go buy it immediately! `Damned in Black’ came out very soon after `At the Heart of Winter’ was released and it could have been just a more-of-the-same album But Immortal has taken their new sound and frozen it with elements their old, resulting in seven very strong tracks of black metal mayhem.