You'll not hear a more epic sounding black metal album than this classic from the legendary Immortal. Released in 1999, At the Heart of Winter is a near perfect example of Norwegian black metal, cold and desolate, but brutally heavy at the same time. With kick ass production from Peter Tagtgren, this is one of the best sounding albums ever released in the genre, and all six tracks are in the six to ten minute long timeframe. One glimpse of the cover art should immediately get you set for the music that is contained on this CD, and not one second of it disappoints.
Abbath's gravelly vocals fill each song with dread, but it's the pounding blast beats from drummer Horgh and Abbath's punishing yet crisp guitar work that really stands out here. "Withstand the Fall of Time" is an absolute monster of a song, complete with intricate tremelo picked guitar riffs and plenty of time changes, and "Solarfall" intejects plenty of mood and atmosphere for a chilling black metal piece. Abbath spews out plenty of brutal chords and complex harmony lines on the relentless "Tragedies Blows at Horizon", one of the heaviest pieces on the album, but a song that has a certain progressive feel to it thanks to the atmospheric guitar passages that Abbath throws in at the middle and end of the song. Traditional sounding black metal can be heard on the pummeling "Where Dark and Light Don't Differ", featuring Abbath's evil vocal attack and non-stop double bass drum blasts from Horgh. The 8-minute title track is a classic of cold, dark, and desolate Norwegian black metal, with melancholy guitar & sound effects, synthesizers, crushing riffs, rumbling bass, and plenty of melody. The equally lengthy "Years of Silent Sorrow" is another rampaging piece that is driven again by blistering drums and mammoth guitar riffs, and ends the album on a complete high note.
Though the band would break up after a few more albums, apparently the classic line-up is reforming to play some festival gigs in Europe in 2007. In the meantime, enjoy this absolutely essential slice of black metal from one of the best bands the genre ever had.
1. Withstand the Fall of Time
3. Tragedies Blows at Horizon
4. Where Dark and Light Don't Differ
5. At the Heart of Winter
6. Years of Silent Sorrow