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The "Bad" Immortal Albums. Are we asking too much?

Precis: Given time, I think more people will rethink these outputs, myself included.

Now understandably, this discussion was brought up tonight around the time I was on bong-rip #5, and the 2nd 40oz. I think it's valid nonetheless. When people refer to the "bad" Immortal albums (ATHOW, DIB, SOND and ASF), are they speaking about their quality as independent albums, or in reference to previous work, or is it impossible to separate quality in relation to career?

I think that all three approaches confront something important.

1) As independent entities, Post-Demonaz (on guitar) Immortal albums aren't bad, in fact they're very good. This is quite evident.
2) In reference to Immortal's previous work, they stink balls. This is quite evident.
3) How important is it to refer back to previous works? Are we asking too much? Maybe so, maybe not.

Maybe so:
Immortal produced self-evident quality work from Pure Holocaust to Blizzard Beasts. DFM is debatable to most people I've spoken with, including myself who doesn't really like that album. With the change of guitarists from Demonaz to Abbath, the later really shocked us all in his adeptness in an instrument he was not wholly acustomed to. He kept the band going, taking it in a new direction considering the previous lineage was not continuable due to circumstances out of anyone's control. Making the best out of a bad situation,  Immortal produced four albums, ATHOW and SOND being the highest achievement of the four, the other two living in the shadow of their previous efforts. Are we asking too much by calling this stuff shit? I think so.

Maybe not:
Immortal might have cheated with their drumming on Pure Holocaust and Battles in the North. Two snares springed on eachother and possible sped up drums (still debatable), plus triggers. They finally draft a man who can really play this stuff (Horgh) and he follows not one step in the direction of the award winning blizzard-blast-fest of the signiture Immortal style. Immortal was capable of writing great music with Abbath on bass, so why was it necessary for Abbath to move to guitar? Surely the Demonaz-styled riffs could have been emulated by him on bass and they could have auditioned for a guitarist similar to Demonaz in ability and creativeness. The image of face-painted battle-hessians degeneratedn into KISS-worship and novelty. Death Metal became a crutch for their "Black Metal," there is no "Thrash" in that music, anyone can see that. For all of the money they made on tours, from album sales on Nuclear Blast, and t-shirt availability, they became a joke to the antagonists of Black Metal, where as once they were godly and untouchable. Are we asking too much? I think not.

This is a good topic to brood upon. Especially if you are an Immortal enthusiast.
Sellouts or not, nobody will ever be able to convince me that there is a Black Metal band more important than Immortal, unless in the unlikely situation where a better band arises.

Given their vapid commentary in media appearances such as "Until the Light Takes Us", I'm prone to reach the conclusion that the bunch were traitors all along. Note that before and during his imprisonment, Varg was always saying kind things about the Immortal guys but now has added them to the list of rats. Excellent music, though.

I've said this here before and make no apologies for it - I like ALL Immortal's output except for the newest(ASF) which I find intolerably boring among other things. Though I do seperate the pre ATHOW material(and I do include BB in that) into another purley BM category of sorts - and from then on, I think they just made solid, interesting "blackened" heavy metal which I enjoy the shit out of. It's almost two different bands to me in many ways, one brilliant and pioneering, the other comfortable and reliably entertaining. 

As far as their unfortunate image choices and the individuals themsleves...well, that's another story.   

When people refer to the "bad" Immortal albums (ATHOW, DIB, SOND and ASF), are they speaking about their quality as independent albums, or in reference to previous work, or is it impossible to separate quality in relation to career?

It's impossible to separate from career, in that you want each one to build on the past.

Everything up through Blizzard Beasts did; ATHOW, while a stylistic regression, was still a great album that reminds me of where other bands like Sacramentum were at that time, re-visiting their influences.

I still don't like Battles in the North or anything after ATHOW.

Given their vapid commentary in media appearances such as "Until the Light Takes Us", I'm prone to reach the conclusion that the bunch were traitors all along.
"Traitors all along"? They write what is undeniably some of the most blistering, forward-thinking metal of all time and because there's a 95% chance that they're dumbasses with no understanding of the ideology behind the music they've been traitors the whole time? I'm not buying it -- if articulateness and ideology are signs of "trueness" than the guys who started the black metal symposium are the truest of them all. Needless to say, I have trouble placing them above Immortal on the scale of Things That Are Important To Metal.

The problem of course, is that most metal musicians are not as intelligent or articulate or self-aware as we'd like them to be, and when they open up their mouths for an interview we end up disappointed that the artist does not equal his work. If we're going to denigrate all musicians who sound stupid in interviews, we're going to have a lot of "traitors to the Hessian cause!" I like Immortal, you like Immortal, we all like Immortal, let's not cast aspersions on their earlier motivations.

All this said, I don't think the new Immortal even really succeeds as rock music -- it's bouncy and bangable, but not catchy, memorable, or sonically distinct enough to worm its way inside the brain. I can't see classic rock stations in the 2030 playing shit from Damned in Black or All Shall Fall.

I do seperate the pre ATHOW material(and I do include BB in that).    
I'm kind of curious why you group BB with ATHOW, as I've always considered BB a sort of anomaly in their discography, more death metal than black metal really. The only song on it that prefigures ATHOW is Mountains of Might, but I don't think that's the only early-era song they did with touches of epic heavy metal.

traitors all along.

I've always heard people say that about them. I personally can't speak on this issue as that I'm not well versed in Immortal's meta-ideology (I can't really read between the lines of their lyrics especially on the "good" albums which are barely coherent).

This makes me weary about it though:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGjjN2phbq4&feature=related

Primarily this is Erik Grim speaking. Short, straight-forward and good answers and nothing more (though Grim never really played on Pure Holocaust so I'm not sure if he even counts). Demonaz is less convincing. Here's Abbath for you with some highly-intelligent words of wisdom:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bY8fC3OswLk&feature=related

Given their vapid commentary in media appearances such as "Until the Light Takes Us", I'm prone to reach the conclusion that the bunch were traitors all along. Note that before and during his imprisonment, Varg was always saying kind things about the Immortal guys but now has added them to the list of rats. Excellent music, though.

That's a stupid outlook from a know-it-all outsider. You're confusing vapid with blunt, and you don't have any insight into their dealings with Varg then and now. Please shut the fuck up.

OP indulges in fallacy by asserting that one can only recognize new Immortal as being pure entertainment (not art) by comparing it to old Immortal.

I'm still going to sign up with Immortals Battles In The North being one of the more ruthless black metal recordings. At least out of ten. . In my head it only spawns the most positive of reactions, enough for me to take into high regard.

1) As independent entities, Post-Demonaz (on guitar) Immortal albums aren't bad, in fact they're very good. This is quite evident.

Honestly, I don't understand how this is "quite evident".  Just saying it is doesn't make it so.  The only post-Demonaz album that had a glimmer of interesting material was ATHOW, and I used to defend it, but recently it's shallowness has made me reevaluate it.

1) As independent entities, Post-Demonaz (on guitar) Immortal albums aren't bad, in fact they're very good. This is quite evident.

Honestly, I don't understand how this is "quite evident".  Just saying it is doesn't make it so.  The only post-Demonaz album that had a glimmer of interesting material was ATHOW, and I used to defend it, but recently it's shallowness has made me reevaluate it.

Withstand the Fall Of Time
Solarfall
Tragedies Blow on The Horizon
At The Heart of Winter
My Dimension
Wrath From Above
One By One
Demonium
In My Kingdom Cold
Hordes To War
Unearthly Kingdom

....could all make up a wonderful retrospective of the later Immortal career shedding some of the skippers and omitting a few good ones. Maybe I should have said, "There's a selection of evidently good songs... and the rest is up to opinion"

I think it's important to remember that Immortal basically released albums or releases in general  in 2's.
"Immortal" < "Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism"
"Pure Holocaust" > "Battles in the North"
"Blizzard Beasts" stands alone except for the "Mountains of Might" track which someone already pointed prefaces the next album.
"At The Heart of Winter" > "Damned in Black"
"Sons of Northern Darkness" > "All Shall Fall"

It seems to me like they've remained on a certain style for at least two albums at a time, with their first efforts in three cases being the greater of the two. Maybe that's why they constantly change styles of playing. If history repeats itself, the next Immortal album (should there be one) will predictably be better.

I think they should start playing slow, like on the track "Unearthly Kingdom" which is the only track on All Shall Fall that I really enjoy to the fullest extent. They seemed to have struck a winner with that one.

....could all make up a wonderful retrospective of the later Immortal career shedding some of the skippers and omitting a few good ones. Maybe I should have said, "There's a selection of evidently good songs... and the rest is up to opinion"
There's a selection of background noise good for chugging beer, the rest is up to opinion.

I think it's important to remember that Immortal basically released albums or releases in general  in 2's.
"Immortal" < "Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism"
"Pure Holocaust" > "Battles in the North"
"Blizzard Beasts" stands alone except for the "Mountains of Might" track which someone already pointed prefaces the next album.
"At The Heart of Winter" > "Damned in Black"
"Sons of Northern Darkness" > "All Shall Fall"

It seems to me like they've remained on a certain style for at least two albums at a time, with their first efforts in three cases being the greater of the two. Maybe that's why they constantly change styles of playing. If history repeats itself, the next Immortal album (should there be one) will predictably be better.
Except that all of Immortal's first three full-lengths are variations of the same exact style, and Damned in Black, being a revisitation of death metal techniques, has more similarity to Blizzard Beasts than any other Immortal album.

They produce shit, it's all they've produced for some time, and it's all they're going to produce for as long as they exist.

I wouldn't consider "At The Heart of Winter" a bad album by any means... it may have traditional metal influences all over it but there is room in the world for the occasional retro-influenced album. I tend to lump that album in with Darkthrone's "Panzerfaust" as a good, but not groundbreaking release. Everything after that was boring, though.

I think ATHOW didn't focus on it's stronger section of music, and more emphasis and being relatable to a more commercial metal approach, which was followed up on the last two albums. Immortal had its golden era. Its just not right now