Retrospective: Immortal’s “All Shall Fall”

All_Shall_Fall

It’s weird to think that All Shall Fallthe eighth, most recent (and maybe last?) studio album from Immortal—is now five years old. More than that, it’s weird to think that my junior year of college, which I was right in the middle of when this thing dropped, is five years ago.

That’s not just any old ancillary detail; I spent my undergrad years at Syracuse University, where winter effectively begins in October, and it’s not unheard of to have nonstop snowfall across multiple full days. It’s brutally cold, and in some parts of the campus, the wind whips fiercely enough to inflict physical pain upon those caught walking through it. So naturally, from my first listen onward, All Shall Fall became the perfect soundtrack to my grim, frostbitten existence in Central New York.

The first thing you’ll notice about All Shall Fall is how pristine it is. We’ve seen this approximate setup from Immortal before: Abbath’s searing guitar riffs, Horgh’s punshing work behind the skins, Peter Tägtgren’s crisp, clear production—in fact, we’d seen it on each of the band’s last three albums before this one. But I can’t recall an instance of the band’s Nordic fury ever sounding this incredible. It’s fuller. It’s not as shrill as we’ve grown used to from Immortal. It’s the 4K, high-definition version of one of their classic slogs through stormy Blashyrkh.

At seven songs and just a smidge over 40 minutes long, All Shall Fall should, in theory, be a breeze to listen to from end to end. In practice, though, it ends up being quite difficult to do so, as both the opening title track and its immediate follow-up, “The Rise of Darkness,” prove to be the kinds of earworms that it’s hard not to listen to several times in a row. The former serves up three minutes of cacophony before segueing into a more-restrained, yet no-less-menacing bridge that you’ll find yourself involuntarily bellowing along with before long. “Darkness,” however, is a different beast—a more steadily-upbeat attack on the senses with an ever-building crescendo. It almost feels like the soundtrack to a car chase, albeit one taking place in a Norwegian ice field.

Once you do move beyond these two songs, (this took me approximately two weeks) there’s plenty to immerse yourself in. In particular, songs like the melodic “Norden on Fire” and “Mount North” are gems; the latter might feel like it’s aping the title track at times, but THAT REFRAIN. Chills. Just…chills. (Okay, not just chills. Also “frostbite” and “amputated fingers,” because Norway.)

As the final notes of the strangely anthemic closer, “Unearthly Kingdom,” fade into silence, you’ll start to feel kind of like a storm’s broken around you. But credit to Immortal here: with All Shall Fall, they give you the kind of storm you’ll want to jump right back into—frostbite be damned. Give it a listen and see for yourself:

-Dan

Live. Love. Plow. Horns Up.

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