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Immortal - At the Heart of Winter
Review: Moore's law of metal applies thus: any band that reaches its artistic peak will halve the distance to its artistic roots every eighteen months, and seeing how "Pure Holocaust" defined a large chunk of the genre the expansion of Immortal was limited after the definition of style that was "Battles in the North" and the following return to a death metal work ethic in black metal servitude to melodic conceptual songwriting.
After this "At The Heart of Winter" recognizes the state of the genre and the loss of former stringman Demonaz and to transcend those obstacles changes to a bounding epic soundtrack-meets-quintessential-heavy-metal quality, dramatic expression of self in classic riff patterns adapted to the basics of black metal melodic technique and signature Immortal phrasing and choice of dissonant yet evocative mood. It is sensual listening in a simpler continuation of the direction in which Immortal was headed, finding an acceptable way out without fully selling out. Having the strength of their brains, it is superior to virtually everything else in this form currently being produced by "black metal" bands.