When people talk about “True Norwegian Black Metal,” they’re talking about Mayhem, Darkthrone, and Burzum (and to a lesser extent, Gorgoroth, Satyricon, and maybe Emperor). But for two decades, none were truer than Immortal, the band founded in 1991 by Olve Eikemo and Harald Nævdal, dba Abbath Doom Occulta and Demonaz Doom Occulta, respectively. You can’t really summarize Immortal’s influence or importance without writing a brief history of the whole goddamn genre, but you don’t have to know any of that to be floored by the band’s music. It is enormous, enthralling stuff. Immortal never took the stylistic leaps of their peers, instead building a trademark sound from a timeless blueprint. And they were better for it! As far as I’m concerned, Immortal are black metal’s platonic ideal (fun fact: The very first installment of The Black Market was headlined by a photo of Abbath).
Anyway, Immortal split earlier this year, after an ugly altercation in which Abbath tried to claim legal ownership of the band’s name (ownership he deserves, IMO). But in March, Abbath announced he would be releasing new work under his own name — and today, via Blabbermouth, we get “Winter Bane,” the first single from the first Abbath album (which will be titled … Abbath). It’s Abbath on guitar and vocals, backed by King Ov Hell (from Gorgoroth and God Seed) on bass, and some dude called Creature on drums. And it is FUCKING AWESOME: huge, anthemic, ripping, and riotous. It is very much in the style of Immortal, and it is 100-percent essential. I’m not surprised by this — Immortal’s last album, 2009’s All Shall Fall, was arguably the best thing they ever did, and Abbath was basically doing all the work by that point — but I am so happy to hear it. Immortal’s music is made for winter, and in that respect, Abbath will arrive right on time: in motherfucking January. But it’s November, New York City is rainy, cold, and dark right now, and “Winter Bane” is the perfect soundtrack. Listen.
Abbath is out 1/22 via Season Of Mist.