Sunday, July 1, 2012

Immortal- Blizzard Beasts (1997)

Blizzard Beasts is the third and final installment in Immortal’s “holocaust metal” trilogy. The album lacks the sheer compositional brilliance of Pure Holocaust but is slightly more creative than Battles in the North. While Battles in the North opts to create the “trapped in a snowstorm” atmosphere through sheer force, Blizzard Beasts employs a little more style. Here Immortal integrates choppier death metal riffs and rhythms into the icy landscape of blackened tremolo and blast beats, resulting in a fuller, more aggressive sound. 

Blizzard Beasts consists of a series of quick hitting and concise tracks. The album’s total running time is under a half hour. If you exclude the epic “Mountains of Might” the other eight tracks are on average less than three minutes apiece. However, Immortal accomplishes a lot in short stretches of time. While the songs tend to center around crunchy lead riffs, Immortal does a nice job of seamlessly integrating lush bridges, stretches of icy tremolo and epic solos into these brief compositions. The result is an album that is quite dynamic; tracks like “Noctambulant” and the title track are absolutely smothering, while tracks like “Winter of the Ages” are shrill and frigid. Consequently, the album feels longer than it actually is—in a good way. There’s a lot to chew on for such bite size songs and a good amount of diversity throughout the recording. 

The aforementioned “Mountains of Might” is definitely the outlier. The track is a mid-tempo epic, which builds off of “Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark)” from the prior album. However, whereas the composition of “Blashyrkh” was a little muddled, “Mountains of Might” is brilliantly pieced together. A mournful synth intro leads to a series of glorious riffs and an awesome chant-along chorus. This song would fit in perfectly on Immortal’s next album, At the Heart of Winter and is as good, if not better than any track on that album. 

If there is a flaw with Blizzard Beasts it is that, save “Mountains of Might,” it lacks moments of brilliance. These songs will get your head banging and provide you with a few memorable hooks, but it rarely elevates to the profound heights of the first two albums. Still, Blizzard Beasts is a worthwhile closing chapter to Immortal’s holocaust metal era. 

Overall: 8.5/10

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