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Norwegian black metal icons Immortal have emerged from turbulent times with their ninth album Northern Chaos Gods.
Immortal now stand as a two-piece force with drummer Horgh and the return to performance of Demonaz Doom Occulta as guitarist and vocalist. Since their last release, All Shall Fall in 2009, Immortal has seen the departure of their longstanding charismatic vocalist Abbath in 2015 accompanied by legal battles and tempestuous debate over the future of the band that had been a cornerstone of Norwegian black metal sound and culture.
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“Yes, since 2015 we had all these problems,” reflects vocalist/guitarist Demonaz. “Abbath, he left the band after we were ready for recording an Immortal album, so we had to start from scratch again, and in late 2015 wrote the first song for the new album which is the title track Northern Chaos Gods, I always made the lyrics for Immortal, and with Abbath even until the latest album, we wrote the music, for the first albums I played the guitar and made everything, the basis of Immortal was made by my guitar playing, so its not so strange. When we could finally focus on just music again, in 2015 when the trouble was gone, it was a relief, and we knocked the wall out and just said well, let’s just continue the band and make a kickass album.”
I never gave up on Immortal because I have so much inspiration, so many tracks that I want to release, so I won’t give it up.
[ Demonaz Doom Occulta ]
After Abbath’s departure, how was the transition into the new band dynamic as a duo? Immortal wasted little time beginning the album anew, as Demonaz declares, “the first thing was to make the album, right? And take it step by step, first we wrote all the riffs for the songs, put them together, then we made the pre-production for everything. And after that we entered the studio so had to wait a bit for that, we wanted to record with Peter [Tägtgren] because he understands how this band should sound on a studio record, … so it took a lot of time, but as for Immortal, we are never a hurried band, … it was important, to take the band back this time, I felt that we lost something on the way, when we had those problems, everything in turmoil, there was no success internally, because we had these problems, with Abbath and … it was difficult. We have been around for quite some time, I started this band in 1990, so it’s a very long time, and sooner or later when you have a band for all these years, you know, you will meet some problems on the way, and I never gave up, I never gave up on Immortal because I have so much inspiration, so many tracks that I want to release, so I won’t give it up.”
The last decade has indeed been trialling for Immortal, but Demonaz has emerged with strengthened resolve. Pondering what he feels was “lost” during this time, he offers, “I think that an album reflects how the band is, in a way, if a band is hungry and wants something, then they will probably make a good album, right? If they are having troubles, the product will be … half hearted, you can’t make a brilliant album … when the band doesn’t give a fuck, it sounds like shit. I think for me its like, music comes first and all the other things come second, and when you’re fighting amongst problems, you lose focus on the music. I’ve been doing the same thing as always, I take my inspiration from nature, every day I walk to the mountain … so I can think. My life is about Immortal, Immortal is about making music and poetry … I need that balance. Now it will be balanced, because there’s no troubles. Its easier to work, write music … you can’t think about anybody else when you make your music, and just to make the music that you want to hear yourself. So for me, Immortal is like when we mix Blashyrkh with … our own identity, it’s like a package that I can stand 110% behind. Its been a long time since I really felt that way about it, but this album I really think this is 110%, you know, I feel that there’s no regret on this album.”
I think that an album reflects how the band is, in a way, if a band is hungry and wants something, then they will probably make a good album, right?
[ Demonaz Doom Occulta ]
While he remained active in writing Immortal material consistently, Northern Chaos Gods marks the return of Demonaz to perform on guitar after twenty years, since an arm injury in 1997 shortly after the release of Blizzard Beasts. “I never stopped playing the guitar,” Demonaz is quick to note, “I always played the guitar, but it was on another level, because I had these problems with my left arm, I got tendonitis, and in 2012 I had an operation, a shoulder one, they found the muscle was broken, so I recovered … now I can play… even better.”
As the release of Northern Chaos Gods draws closer, Demonaz sends a message for fans of Immortal: “I hope that they will stay with us. This is what we believe in.”