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Immortal - Pure Holocaust
Review: Immortal create vast and epic black metal through rushing fast melody that breaks pattern to project spaces of fantasy, virtual existences for the mind to roam while the body is trapped. The construction of their music follows not definitive harmonic rules but deconstructive anti-harmonic power chord composition structured in unorthodox ways to create as wide a space of potential melodic affinity as possible, simultaneously supporting its chaos with seemingly disconnected drums which maintain a fast blasting counterpart to the soaring, diving, dimensional melodies.
The geometry of metal has here been turned outward in another dimension through choice of tones augmented by atmospheric production which unmolds guitar from rhythmic constraints so that the smallest patterns of its elements might overlap with the largest patterns of its overall structure, creating an ambient effect not only within each repeated phrase but within the context of the phrase.
Any note played at any time during a chord will be sounded with all others in the shuddering wall of distorted reverberation, and the finer motions of the whipping high-speed strum used to produce this tremelo/sustain make the music breathe with its own progression.
From analysis that a friend of mine has done, Immortal use power chords composed of the root notes with a melodic note an octave higher. This stretches the range of the melody through the notes of the scale in their relative patterns by emphasizing the open-ness rather than the closure of the system. As notes are arranged by logarithmic expansion they create spreading waves of harmony once broken from specifics of context and allowed to overlap as the potential component complements of all other tones in the phrase.
This style affirms the ultimate nihilism of death metal, which is a seeming disregard for all order to the point of negating communication, but does it through a method of showing potential and not kinetic connection, illustrating what could be rather than the confinements of boundary.
With the careful melodies emphasized by this and other techniques, and the precise and varied song structures, this music is both beautiful and extreme in the same pulsing rhythmic strokes. Its beauty comes from the allure of evil, its mystery and ambiguity, while its power comes from the finality and aggression with which it delivers the distorted, awkward remnants of the only beauty in the world - death.
Songs are fast and structured to move independently of order, introducing concepts which are repeated and recursed for introduction, then resolved in the evolution of the riff to a final concept which is held suspended in its minimalism, accountable for nothing but a complement to that which came before. Usually one or two dominant riffs (sometimes verse/chorus, sometimes not) per song define the metastructures which distribute throughout the many small rhythms and harmonies of this chaotic, frenetic music.
Like most black metal, this starts inscrutably and then develops a harmonic voice which then progresses onward to construct each song, a process Immortal have refined an art while hiding heavy and fast death metal among the black metal arias. These however are done well and provide part of the natural motion of Immortal's work seamlessly. It is beautiful and heavy, light and fascinating.
Brilliant however is the surgical orchestration of these simple elements with which Immortal achieve their power, inverting structures and suggesting a devil?s advocate to any conventional sense of harmony or melody. The listener experiences this ordering as a landscape distributed through ambient recreation of central ideas and consequently the music takes a greater epic quality than the power of its individual elements, linking together not only technically advanced riffs but compositionally-designed transitions to build an overall experience of mixed, varied, and potent emotional and intellectual metaphors.
Although given credit by few for the breadth of its achievement, this album represents a possible future direction for the more complex and progressive avenues of black metal. Its depth of character and spirit as well as artistic medium create an ambience that cannot be duplicated, while the sheer physicality and ambitious potential of this music drive the mystical heart of the animal into perceptive overdrive. One of the classics of this genre not to be missed.