Those of us who live in the New York City area have been treated to a lot of great Black Metal this year, with the recent appearances of such noteworthy acts as Emperor, Dimmu Borgir, and Dark Funeral all making their way through the New York area this year. Friday the 13th in July was no different, as the mighty Immortal once again graced the stage at BB King's for a night of brutal black metal mayhem. Sea of Tranquility's Ken Pierce and Pete Pardo were on hand, and bring their full report on the events.
Ken Pierce: The ever-increasing power and dominance of Heavy Metal music would once again prove strong and holding the horns high as the mighty Immortal took the stage of New York's popular concert venue the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. The appearance came only a few weeks after the venerated Emperor had performed and given the fact that this show had been sold out for many weeks in advance, everyone would find themselves arriving to a jam-packed club. I've always felt this was a great sight to behold but tonight it would make the venue just a little on the hot side as far as temperature went. I should have anticipated that the evening would become far hotter when Immortal would hit the stage. There were two openers for the show but I would not catch either of their sets. I did hear reports that Annunaki was worth checking out, so I will be looking into their CD in the near future. While I often like to catch the startup bands this was the kind of show were I wanted to focus only on Immortal and experience the levels of Metal devastation that they were so well known for without any other sensory assaults.
As the lights went down and the intro music came on we saw the kit of that giant of a drummer Horgh, and soon he was behind them with his horns raised high above for the crowd to see. Abbath was onstage almost immediately as was their touring bassist Apollyon, who has now become a more official member of the group. Tonight's show was the first time that the band had toured the States since 2003 and for those who were lucky to be a part of the NYC appearance of that time should be aware that the reissue of "Sons Of Northern Darkness" in 2005 includes a DVD of this same performance. It was also done at B.B. Kings in case you wondered. For this tour I was sad to find it only scheduled as two dates with one on each coast. The New York show would be followed by another on Sunday in California. Yet despite my concern for the larger Metal fan base in the states I was glad to be making an appearance at one of the shows, and especially since it was Friday the 13th.. I felt this added just the required touch of foreboding to the festivities tonight. For those who never followed the band you should know that everything about the Immortal sound is big and as in your face as can be. It's music that is probably among the most brutal and closest to the true original Black Metal genre than that of the bands who moved more towards the Symphonic and Melodic side of it as we have seen in bands like Emperor and Dimmu Borgir. Instead of orchestration there is only assault, and under Abbath's absolute rage the audience could feel their bones shaking in their skin as Horgh destroyed his drum set on tune after tune. Sporting full corpsepaint, which would add to the overall intensity of the appearance, the band would hit the ground running into a killer set that seemed to be a "best of" collection that spanned many of the bands releases. I felt they were incredible but in one sense I also felt that the intimate setting of the venue was working a little against them. The close proximity to the actual audience and lower ceilings prevented the band from doing some of the things that we see them doing on video such as the fire-breathing that Abbath is notorious for. State regulations for a club of this size was not going to allow any of that but I guess it is better to be safe than sorry. The upside of this would be that Abbath and Apollyon were able to actually touch the outstretched hands of the screaming fans present. In most European festival shows there is about a twenty foot gap between the audience and the stage. Tonight the band could look into the eyes of the fans and see their own corpsepaint staring back at them. Many of the audience attendees were made up to look like the band which I found to be pretty cool to observe. Clearly the audience tonight took this band seriously and how could they not. Since the band has not toured over here in a couple of years the sight of over 1000 crazed Metal fans must have been cool for them to observe from such close quarters.
Abbath would not talk too much tonight and instead just growl his way through tune after sinister tune. It was also another one of those early shows as the venue was holding another event only hours after this one and as result the performance was totally about the business of Metal than any amount of bantering he might have wanted to do. As we noted before their set would include music from several albums with the most notable stuff coming from "Sons Of Nothern Darkness", "Pure Holocaust" and even a little of "At The Heart Of Winter". Having these albums in the core of their set was indeed a very good thing and as each tune progressed the bodies would launch from the floor area into the air and over towards the stage. The venue doesn't encourage moshing for audience safety but tonight this would be pretty difficult to stop. You could feel the audience from every corner tonight and if you were new to shows like this your best place to stand would be in the back. The band was as tight as hell tonight and the reaction they were getting had to have some effect on them which should at least prompt a return that does not take another three years. Since their signing to Nuclear Blast Records, the bands music has been a little easier to find at more locations and there is discussion among the members that new epics will be recorded for a 2008 release. Immortal has indeed returned to school those who need the education in true Norwegian Black Metal in its purest form and this was going to be a show that all present would soon forget.
Pete Pardo: This was 100% Immortal, no bullshit, no screwing around, no holds barred, as they basically pummelled the audience on Friday the 13th with a classic set of Norwegian black metal that touched upon their entire discography. Led by the menacing and imposing figure of guitarist/vocalist Abbath, the band tore through nearly 90 minutes of controlled mayhem that delighted the 1000+ at BB Kings. Soundwise, the band were great, as Abbath's mountains of pulverizing and at times technical guitar riffs just pounded you into submission, Horgh's relentless blast beats earth shattering, and Apollyon rumbling bass just quaking the foundation of the venue. Immortal staples such as "The Sun No Longer Rises" (one of this writers personal favorites), "One By One", "Sons of Northern Darkness", "Battles in the North", "Withst and the Fall of Time", and of course "At the Heart of Winter", along with many others, were played with style, finess, and certainly plenty of brutality. While Emperor's recent performance might have been a little more grand and majestic, Immortal's certainly was heavier and just as powerful. At the end, it seemed that the crowd could have taken in more, but nobody left disappointed, and with the heat and frenzy in the pit area (not to mention the insanely crowded media photo pit which was work in itself getting around the other photographers, security, and flying crowd surfers) everyone was a bit tired.
Black metal is indeed alive and well, and Immortal is going to continue to be a big part of it. That's good news for extreme metal fans.
Photos by Pete Pardo
2. The Sun No Longer Rises
3. Withst And The Fall Of Time
5. Sons Of Northern Darkness
7. One By One
8. Wrath From Above
9. Mountains Of Might
10. Unholy Forces Of Evil
11. Unsilent Storms In The North Abyss
12. At The Heart Of Winter
13. Battles In The North
Official Web site: www.immortal-music.com
Official Label site: www.nuclearblastusa.com