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Close your eyes. I know it's hard, this being Immortal and all. But put away your punchlines; we've heard them before. Just listen. This is music. One doesn't need eyes for it.

Open your ears. What do you hear? A winter wind and an acoustic guitar. Then, the best goddamn racket you ever did hear.

Who let these guys in the studio? "So, boys, I hear you don't play death metal anymore". "Yes, I have a reverb unit". "What's that?" "Yes, I have a tuner for your guitar".

File this under "awesome debuts that sounded nothing like what followed"; see also Sodom, Destruction, Darkthrone. Fingers are twitchy, hairdos are triumphant, and virgin balls are engorged with half-formed being.

This is key. Just a year later, Pure Holocaust sounds like a real band. The riffs are crisp, the songs are tight, and boy can these fuckers play. Sharpen and repeat, again and again. How do I get to Wacken's main stage? Practice, practice, practice!

Not yet for these tenderfeet. These guys are strictly plug-in-and-play. Will the drummer make it to the end of the fill? Why is that solo there? Did they forget to use that tuner? Say again? I can't hear you; I'm in a reverb unit right now.

But therein lies the magick. The band doesn't really know where these songs will go. And we sure as hell don't. This record is a question, not an answer; a journey, not a destination. We aren't winning battles in the north yet. No, "a foggy fullmoon night into darkness ride".

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Immortal - Fullmoon Diabolical Mysticism
Full album stream

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What does darkness bring? Not catchy choruses and expensive hoodies. We get shambolic shuffles, scribbly solos, and brief flashes of fire, lit on oversized pots of reverb. Abbath's croak isn't in effect yet. For now, we have a hungry ghost that screeches and growls. If Frank Zappa's guitar wants to kill your mama, this drum kit wants to kill your little brother. It's skinny and frustrated. I bet that's what Satan looks like. Not some huge reddish dude, but some basement dweller pissed at his house band, Slayer, for slacking on the job.

So we're far, far away from Manowar. No muscles on these waifs! Thank dog for the Norwegian welfare system - see this interview circa 1993, which reveals "no jobs!" for Abbath - for letting these kids play in the forest. They are onto something. Maybe a guitar isn't just a machine that extrudes riffs. Maybe it's a crude spear, an ad hoc torch, or a cloud of fog. Maybe a band isn't just guys in a room looking for power outlets. Maybe it's a rear guard as one goes down unlit paths. Maybe it's an extra sword or two to face the unknown.

And maybe it's kindred spirits to divide the spoils of the hunt. Those synths sweeping through "A Perfect Vision of the Rising Northland" are raised chalices. Small-time scribblings try to keep the dream going, but to no avail. We wake up where we started, next to an acoustic guitar. Thankfully, this dream keeps recurring. That's why they call it Immortal.

— Alan Smith

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