|Label(s)||Nuclear Blast, Osmose Productions|
|Associated Acts||Old Funeral, Mayhem, Gorgoroth, Burzum, I, Hypocrisy|
Immortal is a Norwegian black metal band from Bergen, founded in 1990 by current frontman/guitarist Abbath Doom Occulta (Olve Eikemo) and former guitarist Demonaz Doom Occulta (Harald Nævdal). The pair worked with various drummers for their first three albums, and were later joined by current drummer Horgh (Reidar Horghagen) in 1996.
The beginnings of Immortal can be traced to two short-lived bands, Old Funeral and Amputation, which were formed by Abbath and others in 1988. Immortal's original lineup consisted of ex-members from both of these bands. Old Funeral was founded by Abbath and Tore (Tore Bratseth), then went through a string of guitarists (including Demonaz, Varg Vikernes and Jørn Inge Tunsberg) until disbanding in 1992. Abbath, Demonaz, and Jørn formed Amputation, which released two demos with Demonaz on guitar and vocals, Jørn on guitars, and Padden on drums, before disbanding in 1989.
Members of these Old Funeral and Amputation formed Immortal around 1990-1991, with Abbath on bass and lead vocals, Demonaz on guitar, and Armagedda on drums. They released their self-titled EP in 1991, which saw a stylistic change to black metal. This was followed by their debut album Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism in 1992, which is similar in style to the following two albums with the exception that it is a slower tempo than later recordings. While Jørn had already left the band and was not credited in the album insert, his guitar parts were left on the record. Immortal's early full-length releases were in traditional black metal style, but their most acclaimed album, At the Heart of Winter, marks the period when the band began to experiment with a complex fusion of black metal and German thrash metal. The resulting sound (which could be called melodic black metal) which would characterize Immortal's later works.
They are often noted as having created their own niche in black metal which has guaranteed them a spot on the list of the best bands in the history of the genre. Several albums such as Pure Holocaust, Battles In The North, At The Heart Of Winter and Sons Of Northern Darkness have also helped to solidify their status. With recent (2006) mid-price reissues of their classic back catalog in major markets, their music is now much more widely available.
Immortal's lyrics are based on an overall theme, a realm called "Blashyrkh", which is said to be "demon-and-battle-filled". The idea for Blashyrkh came about from Demonaz and Abbath's feelings of isolation living in Bergen. They created Blashyrkh to mirror those feelings, basing it on Norway, including "winter landscapes", "the woods, the mountains, the darkness, the fog", and "glacial valleys". Their over the top appearance with corpse paint and the cult status of their artwork (such as the album cover of Battles in the North and the cover and internal artwork of At The Heart Of Winter) has also contributed to their notability. Gradually, Immortal gained immense popularity in the underground, partly due to their infamous music video for "The Call of the Wintermoon".
Stand-in drummer Kolgrim said the band's style was that of "pure holocaust metal", which found its way onto the bands next album, Pure Holocaust. The album was recorded by Demonaz and Abbath; however, they found Grim just a few weeks after, and he was included in the album cover band photo. The next album, Battles in the North was recorded by only Abbath and Demonaz. They had asked Grim to leave the band, as they felt he could not help them move their music forward. Grim committed suicide in 1999; however, it is said that this was unrelated to his departure from Immortal. The band frequently headlines (as recently as 2007) a festival held in his memory, the Hole in the Sky Festival.
In 1995, the band released two video clips directed by British artist David Palser, entitled Masters of Nebulah Frost, through Osmose Productions. They featured many bizarrely-shot images of frozen landscapes and vast forests with the band performing two songs from the album Battles In The North, "Grim And Frostbitten Kingdoms" and "Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark)" on a Norwegian mountainside. The video for "Grim And Frostbitten Kingdoms" features Mayhem drummer, Hellhammer (Jan Axel Blomberg). These clips have become the template for many other bands producing such works, similarly to how "The Call Of The Wintermoon" is also highly influential. Hellhammer toured with the band for Battles In The North and was asked to join the band permanently, but declined.
Apart from the two core members, Abbath and Demonaz, Immortal did not find a stable lineup until 1996, when drummer Horgh joined the band and is credited on their album, Blizzard Beasts. This album was Immortal's first true experimental style, combining the sound of their previous albums with a death metal sound. It was not critically acclaimed, although in time it has become more popular with fans. A major turning point for the band was in 1997 when Demonaz suffered acute tendinitis in his arm and was unable to continue playing, and Abbath took over for guitar. Despite this, he has continued writing lyrics and has been a manager for the band, accompanying them on tour, releasing updates and giving interviews about how things are progressing with the band. Abbath and Horgh wrote and recorded the band's next album, At The Heart Of Winter. This album was very different from what had come before as it sounded much closer to thrash metal than any album before, or after it, and was extremely well-received by fans and critics alike. During the tours for this album, the band recruited Iscariah to stand in for bass duties, and were so impressed with his skills that they made him a full-time member.
The next album, Damned In Black was more similar to their old style but kept many thrashy elements as well as some death metal influences. It was well received but is frequently overlooked as it came between two of their classic albums, At The Heart Of Winter and Sons Of Northern Darkness. In 2000, Immortal signed a record contract with German label Nuclear Blast; this change to a more prominent record company didn't affect their style, a fact proven by their record Sons of Northern Darkness. Two months after this, Iscariah announced his intention to leave the band and was replaced by Saroth for the next few months.
Immortal decided to split during the summer of 2003 for various personal reasons of the band members. However, in mid-October 2005, Abbath, Demonaz, and original Immortal drummer Armagedda reunited, and along with Gorgoroth bassist King ov Hell and Enslaved guitarist Ice Dale (Arve Isdal), they began work on a new project, dubbed I. This new band entered the studio at the end of April 2006 to record their debut album, Between Two Worlds, released in November 2006. Demonaz also features as lyricist for the band.
In early December 2006, German magazine Rock Hard reported that Abbath, Demonaz and Horgh had decided to resurrect Immortal once more. Abbath is quoted as saying:
|“||I didn't really want to say it, but I don't give a shit. We will come back, stronger than ever. I've met with Horgh for the first time in over a year. He's built his new house here, right around the corner. In the next few days we will begin to rehearse our old 'Blizzard Beasts' classics. I'm already really hot on the idea. Immortal are timeless frost. One year more or less doesn't make a difference. We have all the time in the world.||”|
In January 2007, it was announced that Immortal would reunite for a string of summer shows in 2007. They headlined the Inferno Festival in April, the Tuska Open Air festival in June/July, Metal Camp festival in July, and the Wacken Open Air festival in August. They also performed twice in the United States in July 2007. Filling in as bassist for these dates was the Aura Noir bassist Apollyon. Immortal have since announced the band's first tour of Australia and New Zealand in March 2008.
After the reunion, Abbath and Horgh decided to reform the band on a permanent basis. This was confirmed by Demonaz in an interview with Eternal Terror . Apollyon is the permanent replacement for Iscariah, and the three began working with Demonaz on material for their next album All Shall Fall. All Shall Fall was recorded in April–May 2009, and was released on September 25, 2009.
According to Decibel Magazine's interview, work has begun on Immortal's ninth album stating in the article "four new songs already in the works for a follow-up to All Shall Fall."
In its infancy, the band promoted anti-religion through their logo, which contained an inverted cross and a small pentagram embedded within the text "Immortal", and through the lyrics and song titles on their first full length album, Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism. However, Immortal does not currently espouse satanism. The band has also distanced itself from the criminal activities and controversy that is usually associated with black metal. There have been a few minor controversies with members of Immortal after they have left the band, such as original rhythm guitarist Jørn's conviction of church burning, as well as Erik "Grim" Brødreskift's suicide in 1999.
- Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism (1992)
- Pure Holocaust (1993)
- Battles in the North (1995)
- Blizzard Beasts (1997)
- At the Heart of Winter (1999)
- Damned in Black (2000)
- Sons of Northern Darkness (2002)
- All Shall Fall (2009)
- Abbath Doom Occulta (Olve Eikemo) – vocals, guitar (1990–2003, 2007-present)
- Demonaz Doom Occulta (Harald Nævdal) – guitar (up to 1997), lyrics (1990–2003, 2007–present)
- Horgh (Reidar Horghagen) – drums (1996–2003, 2007–present)
- Apollyon (Ole Jørgen Moe) – bass guitar (2007–present)
- Iscariah (Stian Smørholm) – bass guitar (1999–2002)
- Saroth (Yngve Liljebäck) – bass guitar (2002–2003)
- Ares – bass guitar (1998)
- Hellhammer (Jan Axel Blomberg) – drums (1995)
- Grim (Erik Brødreskift) – drums (1993–1994)
- Kolgrim – drums (1992)
- Jörn Tonsberg – guitar (1990–1991)
- Armagedda – drums (1990–1992)
- Kapten Galachtik - bass guitar (1992–1993)