Friday, January 30, 2009

Immortal - Pure Holocaust (1993)

Pure Holocaust is the second album from Immortal. This was recorded in Grieghallen Studio in 1993, produced by Pytten. Most seem to consider this their best album. Indeed, this was the album that introduced me to the band, all those years ago. I would have to rank this album a close second, coming in behind Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism. That being said, this is a very good album, worthy of much praise.

Many consider this to be a classic album of Norwegian Black Metal, though it must be said that neither Immortal nor those in the Norwegian scene considered this to be Black Metal, despite the musical and aesthetic style. Immortal's themes are based around the nature and the natural environments of their homeland, or rather of the world they invented called Blashyrkh, a world of eternal cold and ice where various "blizzard beasts" lurk. The band does not write about overly done satanic themes. As Abbath pointed out in various interviews, the band members are not Satanists.

As "Unsilent Storms in the North Abyss" begins, you may first notice the change in sound. Everything is colder and the guitars are a bit sharper. Regarding the production, the band seems to follow Burzum, once again. The sound on Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism can be compared to that of Burzum and Det Som Engang Var; however, here, the sound more closely resembles that of Hvis Lyset Tar Oss. The vocals also changed, becoming more trollish and grim. It was at this time that Abbath established his trademark style. With the loss of Armagedda, Abbath also took over drumming duties on this album, and the difference is hard to miss. Here is found far more double bass and just a totally chaotic way of drumming. The riffs played by Demonaz seem to have less in common with Bathory, as on the previous album, and far more influence from Mayhem.

"A Sign For the Norse Hordes to Ride" erupts with the fury of a merciless blizzard. The tremolo harmonies are chilling to the bone; the kind that could freeze you in the middle of summer. This may be the one improvement in sound, from the last album. There is no protection from the bitter cold melodies on this album.

The next song is "The Sun No Longer Rises". What a pleasant thought; no more light or life, just the freezing darkness. This was the first Immortal song that I ever heard, thus being responsible for getting me into this great band. It begins with a furious speed, but becomes more mid-paced as it goes along. Giving the riffs some room to breathe aids in creating a colder and darker atmosphere.

"Frozen By Icewinds" has much the same pace as the previous song, yet the barrage of drums makes it seem faster than it is. At this point, you feel very tired as you wander it endless forest and frostbitten plains, seeking a place to lay down and close your eyes one final time, seeking suicide by freezing. The lead solo at the end is utterly chilling.

Bizarre riffs begin "Storming Through Red Clouds and Holocaustwinds". The pace is absolutely relentless and harsh. There are some odd time changes in this one. Abbath shows some minor variation with the vocals on this one, but not much. This is a song of battle and total destruction of one's enemies.

"Eternal Years on the Path to the Cemetery Gates" continues the onslaught, starting with fast, punishing riffs and drumming, but alternating with more mid-paced parts. There are certain riffs and drum sections where the sound is more reminiscent of the first album.

"As the Eternity Opens" is, possibly, the best song on the album. This is a more mid-paced affair, containing many freezing melodies and an almost mournful atmosphere. This really shares similarities with Burzum. The guitars are bleak and icy while the bass has a somber feeling. The lyrics are dark and perfectly suited for this. The speed picks up, later in the song, but only briefly. Much like the songs on Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism, this possesses a very grim and epic atmosphere.

"The light will was never here"

From the distance, one hears "Pure Holocaust" slowly fading in to annihilate the forces of light and warmth. After a raging and furious assault the song sets into a calmer pace, as the banners of winter are unfurled. Vast glaciers slowly march south, clad in mail of ice and armed with spears of frost and lashes of freezing hail, devouring all life. Listening to the bitter cold riffs, your skin turns blue. The holocaust has claimed yet another victim.