Immortal - All Shall Fall (Nuclear Blast/Riot)

One can hardly accuse the raw satanic power of Immortal for being the sole cause of stagnation in black metal, but in All Shall Fall, their nervous dip of the toe into the icy waters of progression sounds admirable, but dated.

Taking seven years off from a passion either renews it with verve or kills it completely. In the opener All Shall Fall, Immortal's first release in the space where other bands have been born, lived and died, we hear that their cult-like and malevolent fervor for floating beats and rolling riffs, and Abbath's particular grim shrieking growls have not diminished over time. The band's flirtation with other styles seems evident in the Kraut-thrash inspired The Rise of Darkness, taking cues from Kreator more so than their previous work. Hordes of War rips through with beastly blast-beats while dynamic tracks such as Norden on Fire mix the light and the dark, the fast and the measured and crushingly heavy with, well, something less than that.

The more enjoyable tracks such as Arctic Swarm are a blend of traditional heavy metal and black metal; just fat, crunchy riffs with a polished, sharp and to-the-point "kvlt" edge are the parts of the record that work the best. Unearthly Kingdom, the epic closer, features relentless riffing as well as frosty, warlike guitar passages to create a grand narrative worthy of these Sons of Northern Darkness.

So if you're wondering if your black metal heroes have created another worthy record for thine haemorraging ears, the short answer is yes. But after so much time and so many bands like Goatwhore, Dissection and Behemoth bringing out monumental black metal releases, the landscape has changed and their traipsing through these careworn frostbitten tundras seems a bit old now. There's plenty to like here, it's just nothing we haven't heard before. Black metal fans will rejoice - death fans might tap their toes along to it - everyone else will merely go about their business.

Immortal's All Shall Fall is out now on Nuclear Blast/Riot. Get your copy here.