With “Sons of Northern Darkness,” Immortal have created a truly eclectic and forward-looking slab of metal. While they maintain the dark atmosphere and grim vocals that characterize black metal, Immortal also show some influences of power metal and thrash. With its precise musicianship and touches of melodic accessibility, “Sons of Northern Darkness” even displays some elements of the classic metal of pioneers like Iron Maiden. If there’s one aspect of this album that stands out immediately, it’s the guitars. Aided by an exceptionally clean production that pushes it to the forefront, the guitar work on this album expertly balances precision, heaviness, and melody. In contrast to the vast majority of black metal albums, “Sons of Northern Darkness” is full of riffs that are heavy, memorable, and even (gasp!) catchy. If the explosive opening riff to the title track doesn’t light a fire under your posterior, chances are nothing will. Now, one could argue that with all this clean production and guitar work, this isn’t a black metal album at all. However, although I’m not an old Immortal fan (this is my second album of theirs, after “Battles in the North”), I think most black metallers could find a lot to like here. But I digress. Along with the guitars, what I think really elevates this album above the heap is the songwriting; each track is fully realized and stands out on its own. The title track and “Demonium” take off at about mach 3, with fearsome drumming and vocals. The crushing “Tyrants,” which never fails to get my head banging, uses a slower tempo to really drive the heavy riffing home. The eight-minute epic “Beyond the North Waves,” with its lengthy and majestic instrumental conclusion, was a perfect choice for the album closer. And although I’ve singled out these songs, all are no worse than solid. Although, as I’ve already said, this album can’t really be called black metal, Immortal have done an excellent job of updating the traditional black metal sound without deviating too far from its roots. By incorporating new elements, they’ve simply created an album that I think fans of any type of metal can enjoy. If this is a sign of the direction that black metal will take in coming years, I’ll be pretty pleased.
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I had a chance to see them in Chicago with Halford and I failed to go…Little did I know that it would be my last chance to see one of my most highly revered bands! Curse me to hell!!!Anyway…The CD…Yes, an awesome sounding finale to their repertoire of music. As already stated, the guitars really stand out and sound very good. Excellent production all around. This is my favorite Immortal album, although they are ALL worth having in your collection. Is it black metal? Who cares??? We get so damn tied up into labels and categories that it becomes a detriment…Just listen and decide: Do I like it? If so, then let it be! It truly is a very heavy CD and if you like Immortal, you should love this one!So sad they are gone. Nothing in this world ever lasts…Abbath shares some vocals on the new Dimmu Borgir (Death Cult Armageddon – get it) CD though.
Less overtly death metal influenced than the previous album Damned In Black, Sons Of Northern Darkness walks a fine line between death metal and more melodic black metal. Perhaps its the best described by what Immortal themselves called their music: holocaust metal. The songs range from blast beat freak outs to slower Celtic Frost/Viking metal like pummelling such as the fantastic album closer “Beyond The North Waves” There is a lot of variety here within each song, lots of change ups in the music, LOTS of power, melody and even groove. I think writing wise this may be Immortals finest album, at least since Pure Holocaust. Much of this album is violence inducing and sublime. Where the hell’s my longboat? Thematically SOND is pretty much what we’ve come to expect from Immortal, songs about Blashyrk (or however you spell it), war, triumph and cold wastelands. With song titles like “Antartica”, “In My Kingdom Cold”, or “Tyrants” you pretty much know what Immortal are about lyrically. Holocaust metal indeed.
The album sounds hugely powerful, seductively so. The guitars are huge, there’s just the right amount of bottom end to the mix, the drums are defined and powerful and the vocals sit perfectly within the framework of the music. Necro sounding this isn’t, its monstrous. They’ve never sounded better.
Horgh is an fantastic drummer and this is his best work. Abbath’s vocals and guitar playing are completely fantastic. I think he’s got the best voice in black metal. Iscariah sounds great, his bass provides a distorted powerful bottom end. Sons of Northern Darkness is Immortals most satisfying album since Pure Holocaust and is a great final work for a fantastic band. They went out on top of their game.
With their seventh album proving to be their last, Immortal definitely went out on top. 2002’s “Sons Of Northern Darkness” is probably the finest dark metal release this side of the year 2000. Like Venom’s “Black Metal,” Bathory’s self-titled release, and Mayhem’s “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas,” this is a classic black metal album, and it should be considered one of the genre’s milestones.
There are a few melodic, ambient moments sprinkled on here and there (“Antarctica” begins with chilling wind whooshes, and “Beyond The North Waves” is a peaceful and ornate album closer, featuring aquatic sounds and a fairly majestic string arrangement.) But most of this album is very brutal, and jam-packed with the stuff that you look for in great black metal: scorching guitars, lightning fast double kick drums, and raspy vocals. The thunderous power chords and blinding drums on the first track, “One By One,” is one prime example of how brutal the album can be. And the title track (featuring a bouncy drum beat, searing riffs, and even a careening solo), the onslaught of surging, machine gun guitars and all-out, crazy drumming on “Demonium,” and “In My Kingdom Cold,” which is composed of thick, churning riffs and a constantly pounding rhythm, are a few of the album’s other biggest highpoints.
Even though Immortal have been split up for some time now, their greatness and influentialness will always live on through today’s dark metal bands (like Dimmu Borgir). But even if it weren’t a standard-bearing, landmark release, “Sons Of Northern Darkness” is an excellent album all the same. There isn’t much else to say except that no self-respecting black metal fan can be without this C.D.
I am a huge fan of a wide range of metal styles, but never liked anything referred to as “black metal”. I happened to read an article on Immortal, thought they looked a little silly with the makeup, but decided to check out a few sound clips to see what the big deal was. I ended up buying the CD and was surprised at how much I love it! No keyboards and a great mix of fast and slow tempos give these songs just the right kick that should satisfy any death metal fan (not limited to “black metal” fans!). Abbath’s growl and unbelievably fast and tight guitar playing make this CD a must-have for anyone who loves real metal (The drumming is amazing as well – I gotta see this guy!). I have since bought 3 other Immortal CD’s and look forward to seeing them live here in North America. This will probably go down as my surprise favorite of 2002!