Label: Nuclear Blast
Date: May 26th, 2023
This one had “gimmick” written all over! Even without all the drama that has unfortunately colored Immortal’s career in the last eight or nine years much more than music. First off, we’ve got another sequel to the tale of mythical Blashyrkh, this time titled “Blashyrkh My Throne”. Plus, the honorary mention of the word in songs number one, three and five. There’s also a track titled “Immortal”. To top it all off, design of this release is just plain lazy. I honestly cannot believe a band of this stature, on one of the richest labels in the world of metal (and beyond), cannot do more than cover artwork, couple of logos and a photo of a sole member of the band. Ivona bought me the digipack version and honestly, I don’t see the need for anybody to buy anything other than a download on a streaming service. You always hear about the necessity of purchasing a physical release, above all else because you get the full artwork, booklet and inlay. There’s really no need to do so with “War Against All” because there’s no such thing as additional art, inlay is extremely poor and booklet consists of lyrics in white on black background.
As a fan, I feel nothing but disrespected. Granted, Immortal had a couple of designer faux-pas’ before, but this is just below any given standard. I will definitely think twice before expanding my collection of Immortal music.
But what about music? Last time around, with Horgh still in its ranks, the band delivered an album that sounded like the best partitures they’ve created, shoved into a blender and spewed out in a form of “previously on Immortal” sitcom opener. This time, though, I must admit, I’m pleasantly surprised. “War Against All” is definitely not the best Immortal album but Demonaz opted to avoid picking through the recycle bin and created some genuinely new tunes. Lyrics are still rehashing the same topics (Blashyrkh or otherwise), but the songs are moving on. Not away from what we all know and love about Immortal, but they are back to displaying the creative imagination of the band. Namely, there’s a bit more atmospheric melody on top of wrathful freeze that characterizes the Norwegians since their inception. What’s more, this album shines further light to the early days of Immortal, being somewhat cruder than the grandiosely arranged records that emerged starting from “At the Heart of Winter”.
“War Against All” is fiercer, occasionally touching on death metal almost. It’s a rough record, though Demonaz doesn’t forget the chilling acoustics in their righteous places. The album touches on melodic passages, too. Serving the omnipresent coldness Immortal cannot operate without, pieces of melody, especially in more or less apparent (depending on the need) guitar leads, are gaining in prominence. Best example of everything I just wrote is to be found in a slow burner titled “Wargod”.
Then there’s another unexpected one, this time titled “Nordlandihr”. A seven minute long instrumental that draws from Immortal’s legacy as much as from Iron Maiden’s. Those epic guitar flows, along with the majestic arrangement and rhythmic rollercoaster are not among things this band is commonly know for. Yet, for all the twists and turns, the song is tied with the band’s trademark sound firmly enough to avoid any potential thoughts about Immortal straying from their set musical trajectory.
These two stand out, with the title track closely following, if only because of its sheer catchiness. The rest is following closely along making “Was Against All” a proud mark in Immortal’s biography. Though still lagging behind the classics, Demonaz shows he is capable of handling the band all on his own. If he would only pay attention to the visual side of things, then we could claim these forefathers are still at least close to the very top of the game. Alas, there’s no excuse for lazy.