Powerful tremelo-picked guitar riffs, insanely fast blast beats, and bloodcurling vocal screeches...these are some of the main elements of Norweigan Black Metal, and Immortal have long been one of the leaders of the genre. Damned in Black was Immortal's 2000 release, and ranks up there with some of the bands best releases. Containing only seven tracks and clocking in at under 40 minutes, the album wastes little time and there's certainly no filler here. The amazing aspect is how full the sound is with just three members, that being Abbath on guitar & vocals, Horgh on drums, and Iscariah on bass. Massive guitars meets up with Horgh's intricate drum work and the rumbling bass of Iscariah, and with some help from the production of Peter Tagtgren (Hypocrisy/Pain), this is some hugely powerful black metal. There are moments when you can barely make out some keyboards, but none are listed in the credits.
Damned in Black is kind of a mixture of the epic yet melodic sounds of At the Heart of Winter and the rampaging mix of black & death metal of Sons of Northern Darkness. While the band had come a long way since the days of Pure Holocaust, there's still plenty of that cold & metallic black metal feel here. Songs like "My Dimension" and "Triumph" rage along at a frantic pace, with manic guitar riffs and Horgh's relentless blast beat attack crashing through the mix while Abbath's harsh vocals cut through like ice. On "The Darkness That Embraces Me", heavier guitar riffs pummel the lister (and you can hear those keyboards in the distance again), and "In Our Mystic Visions Blest" sees Abbath telling a chilling story amidst plenty of furious & complex guitar patterns. The closing title track is a brutal and relentless barrage of Black Metal ferocity, yet highly melodic. Abbath's riffs pound the listener into submission, yet give the song a very epic feel. One minor complaint I have with a few of the songs on this album are that they fade at the end, at seemingly innapropriate times. Kind of strange for Black Metal, but whatever...
If you are new to Black Metal, then it's about time to dive into the world of Immortal if you haven't already. Damned in Black ranks up there among the best albums from the band, and is a good place to start as any. If you are already a fan, there's a good chance you already know all this, but with this new reissue from Osmose Productions now available, there's reason enough to check it out all over again. For must-listen Black Metal, Immortal is recommended listening alongside bands like Emperor, Dimmu Borgir, Satyricon, and the like.
2. Wrath from Above
3. Against the Tide (In the Arctic World)
4. My Dimension
5. The Darkness That Embrace Me
6. In Our Mystic Visions Blest
7. Damned In Black