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.