Live at The Avalon

Hollywood, California

April 02, 2010

Immortal are one of the bands that pioneered Black Metal and have attained a cult status that transcends genres. When people hear the words Black Metal, images come to mind and more often than not, the images are of Immortal. Their classic painted look and spiked outfits go hand in hand with the world's perception of this sub genre of metal and their legacy has cemented a permanent place in music history.

For twenty years they have been producing their own breed of guitar driven mayhem. With a member roster that has always revolved around frontman Abbath Doom Occulta and his awesome vocals, even with drum and bass duties changing hands over the years, the sound is always pure Immortal.

This event was a special occurance, one of only four North American dates to be played. Fans flew from all over the country to be a part of this concert. The end of 2009 saw their eighth studio release with "All Shall Fall",  a brilliant addition to their massive back catalog and my favorite of theirs yet. The album itself has a slightly slower pace than some earlier releases, which border on Thrash Metal they are so fast, allowing more intricacies and atmosphere to come through.

All of their albums focus on the mysterious world of theirs known as "Blashyrkh" ruled by "Mighty Ravendark". Unlike many of their Black Metal contempories, Immortal does not promote Satan worship but none the less, their world is full of demons and darkness with massive battles in the Northern Wastes playing a key role in their mythos.

Los Angeles and New York were the locations of the two American shows and both were sold out events. The fans here in Hollywood were chanting for Immortal as soon as the first band, Lightning Swords of Death, left the stage.

The audience grew restless with the excitment and anticipation for the show to begin. As the lights went down, the Immortal banner at the back of the stage was illuminated. Horgh the drummer emerged first. As he brought his drum sticks down the banner suddenly dropped revealing a second one underneath which depicted the moonlit mountain artwork from their new release.

Apollyon, the bassist came out next and finally Abbath, who not only handles their signature vocals, but also is the master behind the guitar work.

Their set list was made up of five of the seven songs from their newest album including the title track, "All Shall Fall" which started the concert off. In addition to the new material they moved around their back catalog in unexpected directions, playing four songs off of "Sons of Northern Darkness", three off of "Battles in the North", two off of "At the Heart of Winter" and an extended medley of material from "Pure Holocaust".

They skipped "Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism", "Blizzard Beasts", and "Damned in Black" in their entirety. The only song of theirs I really wanted to hear that they didn't perform was the title track off the latter but I can hardly complain with the presentation of all that they did play.

My favorite song of the set was most definitely "Unearthly Kingdom" off of "All Shall Fall". It is an epic song that has many different parts to it that all blend together perfectly. It also has some of the catchiest riffs of their career in my opinion and even though it is of a slower pace than some of the mosh monsters, it has a driving rhythm to it that makes one move with the music.

I was extremely impressed with the talent level of the band. I love their studio work but never saw them live so I did not know what to expect and I have to say they are top notch. Abbath is very impressive and may be one of the hardest working talents in this genre having to handle multiple duties such as they are.

They also had a fantastic sound quality, especially up close. On either side of the drum riser there was literally a wall of amps and when they hit the second song of the set, "The Rise of Darkness" it was literally a wall of sound that hit you and went straight through your body. It was not a mushy blast of volume but an articulate perfect sounding sweep of guitar, bass, and drums and when combined with Abbath's vocals was exactly what I hoped this experience would be like. Abbath doesn't just have a deep growl but an interresting dark voice that many in the genre emulate but never succeed in reproducing which, for me, sets them a notch above many of the other bands.

They did not really do an encore. While they did leave the stage for a few seconds at one point, it was not long enough for the usual chanting for them to return. Once they finished the last song, "Blashyrkh", they literally went from playing the final note to throwing their guitar picks and drum sticks into the crowd and waved to their fans. The audience wasn't sure whether they would play more but the crew starting pulling the amps down while the band was still on stage so that was it. Fantastic show in all regards.

Set List:

  • All Shall Fall
  • The Rise of Darkness
  • Solarfall
  • Sons of Northern Darkness
  • Tyrants
  • Hordes to War
  • Norden on Fire
  • Grim and Frostbitten Kingdoms
  • A Sign for the Norse Hordes to Ride
  • Pure Holocaust Medley
  • Unearthly Kingdom
  • One by One
  • Withstand the Fall of Time
  • Beyond the North Waves
  • Battles in the North
  • Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark)

Special thanks to Tina (VNA) for helping me sort out my camera when I thought all these photos were lost.

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