review by: Roberto Martinelli, Mladen äkot, and name=%%Bastiaan de Vries%%
RM: It seemed safe to assume that All Shall Fall would be Sons of Northern Darkness II. And that would have been fine, except it isn't. Sure, it's new Immortal, and the sound is more produced and plastic than ever, but the album rocks.
Mä: Looks like Immortal have gone safe this time. Looking at the track titles randomly - Arctic... Norden... North... Darkness... Hordes... it's easy to guess that Immortal didn't want to re-invent themselves. But, that was to be expected. If, for example, Emperor decided to record another album, there would be problems. Whatever they would do, someone would want a different Emperor era to be represented in it. With Immortal, there were no problems. There were three "new era" Immortal albums to take cues from, all three in a somewhat similar style, and Immortal did just that. Continued doing the "new" Immortal.
RM: Agreed. And, naturally, with Abbath writing all the guitar parts. And the song titles are getting less thrilling (compared to something like "Withstand the Fall of Time" or "Throned by Blackstorms"), but remember that Abbath has never written any of that stuff, it's all been Demonaz. Speaking of Demonaz, have you heard the utter tripe the man has put out in that self-titled project of his?
Mä: No, I haven't yet. But keep in mind that Demonaz wrote all the lyrics for I as well. On Between Two Worlds the titles, and the lyrics, were more inspired.
RM: Since Sons of Northern Darkness preceded it, here's the comparison to that. Much faster overall, more angry and more intense. As much as the songs on Sons of Northern Darkness were well-done, another album of the relatively relaxed vibe that album had would have been less interesting or triumphant as what you get on All Shall Fall. Rather, it's more of the thrashy vibe from the hardest songs on Damned in Black.
Mä: Yes, but, there is definitely one more album to consider, namely Between Two Worlds by Abbath's other band, I. All Shall Fall isn't as much influenced by it, as much as it seems that Immortal deliberately tried to separate Immortal from I by avoiding some of the elements of Between Two Worlds. Although itís a more straightforward, rocking album, Between Two Worlds has one hell of a lot of catchy hooks and memorable moments. All Shall Fall doesn't have them. It's almost confusing when you hear Immortal-quality hooks on Between Two Worlds, but not nearly as many on All Shall Fall. After probably 10 spins, all I can remember is the sing-along "All shaaalll faaallll..." from the opening track, and the absolutely amazing ending of the last track, "Unearthly Kingdom." Those artificial harmonics are by far the most air-guitar inducing part of the album. Although... a very similar riff was used on the last track of Between Two Worlds, so, when Immortal actually use some elements of I, it sounds more like proper Immortal. Am I making any sense?
RM: The allegations are correct. I had totally disregarded Between Two Worlds, entirely because it was such a flop with me, I couldn't bring myself even to own it. I got it again a few days ago, and once again, itís so lame I still canít even get through the entire thing. In contrast, Immortalís All Shall Fall is a thrilling triumph, and the songs are memorable.
However, what is a bit irksome about All Shall Fall is that some of the songs arrangements are a bit lacking. Some songs will rage, but then end with a feeling of prematureness... and we're not talking about the totally rad "someone pulled the plug to the stereo out of the wall" endings that were classic on Pure Holocaust and Battles in the North. Here, it's more of a feeling that the songs were slapped together without taking care to iron out the creases. But the parts are great!
Mä: The parts are definitely great. But it sounds like... well, like Iron Maiden making new albums out of recycled elements of old ones. It's still Immortal, it kicks ass, it can't be bad, but it's almost superfluous. Between Two Worlds sounded much fresher and stronger and there is inadvertently way more Immortal magic on it than there is on All Shall Fall.
RM: Slightly disagreed with the Iron Maiden comment. In principle, yes, but Iron Maiden's latest albums are nigh unlistenable ó tepid, tired ó while Immortal's rule. I couldn't get through A Matter of Life or Death or Dance of Death even ONCE, while All Shall Fall would be welcome in the stereo at least a few times a week. It not only is a triumph that Immortal are still making records, it's a triumph that they also kick ass.
If Immortal has an "old" and a "new" period, the best new Immortal is still and will always be At the Heart of Winter. It has the best compositions, the best cold atmosphere. That said, every Immortal album ever made will be a joy, and All Shall Fall is nothing short of that... and thankfully, not a total rehash of another album, which, again, considering Immortal's unmistakable strength of style, would still be welcome.
Mä: Agreed on that At The Heart of Winter is the one with best compositions and atmosphere, the cold/hot shifts, almost larger than life riffs, and it is probably the best Immortal overall, but I'm not entirely sure that All Shall Fall is all that relevant. It is a nice addition to the collection for sure, it was great hearing Abbath's voice again, the musicianship is superb, but only the last track is somewhat memorable. It looks like Immortal tried to decide between brutal and catchy while forgetting that one doesn't have to exclude the other.
RM: Within the Immortal discography, I agree with your first comments. However, this is Immortal, one of the few black metal bands with which all you need to hear is a few seconds of their music and you know immediately it's them. All Shall Fall's songs are not the best in the band's history, but they're still goddamn great, and they bristle with energy. Each one bursts to life with excitement from their beginning, while kind of ending awkwardly... sometimes.
Mä: Well I did say they still kick ass, but my point is that the ideas aren't as good as they used to be. If I was to name my favorite Immortal songs randomly, I'd go with "Mountains of Might," "Where Dark and Light Don't Differ," "Nebular Ravens Winter," "The Sun No Longer Rises," "Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark)," and so on and on, but none of them would be from All Shall Fall. Or, for that matter, from Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism. The same goes for the riffs. It's damn energetic all the way through, but not much to hold on to. It's all the riffs Immortal have been playing for years now, only faster and slightly different in the way they are arranged, but I can still only remember one or two. Take a look at Amon Amarth, granted, no one complains that they have been re-recording the same album for quite some years now, but in Immortal's case I definitely wanted more than one memorable part. Like, 20-30 of them? Besides, (and another Maelstrom writer will probably say "with you it's all about Bathory"), it's now just a more modern sounding Requiem by Bathory.
RM: Contrast these outlooks with some of the songs on Blizzard Beasts, for example (lots of good stuff, but some filler), or just about the entirety of Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism (mostly whatever, except for like three engaging moments). The Immortal bar has been raised as high as it is because of what great songs they write.
Mä: But I don't see a point in playing Immortal music just for the sake of playing. Were they too scared, too uninspired, too rushed, or too lazy to stop for a moment and ask themselves if this time they are bringing anything new? I don't think so, the money would come anyway.
RM: Much disagreed that I is more Immortal than All Shall Fall. I is too rock to be Immortal, whereas Immortal is metal.
Mä: Then take another look at I. At first I hated it, but then I realized that it's just mid-tempo Immortal with different drums, more simple songs and maybe three rock parts altogether. Without those rock parts it is more Immortal than Immortal now. That might be a few percent difference, but to me it still sounds like that, heavy metal with a cold atmosphere.
Or, I is more Immortal than Quorthon's solo albums are Bathory, but listening to his first solo album, I have no problem accepting it's just another face of Bathory. Bathory had more than one face, so did Immortal. And whatever both of them did, it was usually easy to describe, it was good or bad. But never just for the sake of simply having an album out like now. Maybe, just maybe, Abbath thinks his new riffs are original, but after seven years I think too much water went under the bridge, too many bands appeared, and Immortal resorted to simply sounding like themselves.
RM: Letís not forget the contributions of drummer Horgh. What makes this guy so special is his style: He doesn't play beats on the drums, he plays riffs. This really started to come about in At the Heart of Winter, and by Damned in Black, he had his whole style down pat. I'm tempted to try to again embrace Hypocrisy (through Virus, which Horgh is on), and try to connect with Grimfist just to hear more of that guy play.
Mä: Horgh is a class on his own, no mistake. Maybe they should have started with him writing the drums, and then writing and recording the rest after him? With so many fast parts and changes, but in the end unremarkable riffs, he didn't get to have as much exposure as he could have.
BdV: I'm hovering kinda in between both of your opinions. First I have to mention that my favorite Immortal record is Blizzard Beasts, and I didn't much care for Sons of Northern Darkness.
All Shall Fall is instantly recognizable as Immortal: All the signature stuff is there, even the intensity is there, but the record has no memorable songs (and only a few memorable moments). It is great to hear Horgh once again, like a machine-gun on his snare. It is great to become familiar with the new / old signature riffs of Abbath. But there is nothing to hook me in as a listener. They are going through the familiar Immortal motions, which would be fine if only they had written some interesting songs.
Mladen mentioned there were three "new era" Immortal albums to take cues from, all three in a somewhat similar style, and Immortal did just that. Continued doing the "new" Immortal. I can't help but feel they've mistakenly taken all the uninteresting parts from those albums. All Shall Fall has technically proficient songs, but they lack any real sense of awesomeness that was present in the previous records.
I've listened to the record three times now and I can't remember any memorable moments. I'd give All Shall Fall a (5/10).
Mä: Personally, I'll stick to Between Two Worlds ó the vocals are admittedly horrible, BUT, if you turn the volume way up, they lose the low component and you're left with way more Immortal than there is on All Shall Fall. So, until the next time, Between Two Worlds will remain this writer's last interesting Immortal album. (6/10)
RM: Gave All Shall Fall a final critical listen. The first two songs are quite catchy and memorable. Songs 3-6 have wonderful energy and are a pleasure to listen to, but they are not as well constructed as weíve come to expect from this band. The last song is the predicted epic track, and it holds together better, but it still falls a bit short. However, even with the least remarkable song on this record, the great energy and unique vibe of Immortal make it fun to listen to, and inspired listening to Immortal's entire discography, back to back.
All Immortal albums are in their own way essential, and All Shall Fall is no exception, but it certainly isn't their best. It's good that Immortal didn't play it as safe as possible and re-make Sons of Northern Darkness, as one record of more laid back Immortal tunes is enough. Despite it feeling thrown together in places, All Shall Fall is a fitting and welcome album in the discography of the best black metal band ever. (8.7/10)