Immortal: Abbath, Demonaz.
Recorded in September 1994.
Immortal includes: Abbath (vocals, guitar); Iscariah (bass); Horgh (drums).
Producers include: Peter Tagtgren, Abbath, Horgh.
Recorded at Abyss Studios, Sweden between October 1999 and February 2000.
Personnel: Abbath Doom Occulta (vocals, guitar); Horgh (drums).
Audio Mixer: Peter T„gtgren.
Recording information: Abyss Studios, Sweden (10/1999-02/2000).
And Immortal treks on through bitter, icy landscapes, quietly and efficiently becoming (arguably) the most inspired and important band in black metal. Damned in Black is the second album of Immortal's hellish Holy Trinity, released between creative breakthrough At the Heart of Winter and well-honed masterpiece Sons of Northern Darkness. In comparison, Damned in Black strikes one as being the family's nasty, spiteful little brother, sounding slightly rushed, unkempt, and panicky, with whirlwind blastbeats more prominent in the arrangements. But the album benefits from this approach; it's an angrier, more fiery record, especially during barnburners "Triumph," "My Dimension," and "In Our Mystic Visions Blest," which nod respectfully toward the band's speed-drenched early days, albeit with the more balanced, well-crafted songwriting skills of latter-day Immortal. "Against the Tide (In the Arctic World)," "The Darkness That Embrace Me," and the title track are more melodic and grandly epic, complex but never unwieldy. Immortal's greatest strength is their well-conceived instrumental approach -- it's never self-indulgent or fanciful, always memorable, and only living to serve the song. Producer Peter Tagtgren has seen many of his Scandinavian brethren through the doors of his Abyss Studios, but he's never gelled with any group quite like Immortal, giving the band a robust, deceptively simple, and consistently devastating mix. Ultimately, Damned in Black proves that this Norwegian trio -- still admirably clinging to their traditional evil Kiss makeup -- prays only to their armor-clad, bullet-belted metal muse. While it will most likely be overlooked considering Immortal's brightest and deadliest moments came before and after it (respectively), Damned in Black proves to be just as powerful as anything else in the band's increasingly impressive canon. ~ John Serba