Metal Church - The Present Wasteland

It is almost one and a half years since fans of Black Metal around the globe rejoiced at the news that the mighty Norwegian quartet Immortal was getting back together – a decision that saw the birth of the band’s eighth studio album “All Shall Fall”. The result was good enough to convince these corpse painted noisemakers to get back into the studio with rumours suggesting that a new release is half way in its making. Well, it is under such a climate that the band’s ex-guitarist and current lyricist Demonaz Doom Occulta decided to release his debut solo album entitled “March Of The Norse” – a collection of nine compositions which have already caused quite a stir in the Black Metal circles.

Immortal are a band that have never been ashamed to admit having the mighty Bathory as a major influence and have often gone out of their way in proving that epic Black Metal is all about simple heavy riffs and beautiful guitar melodies. Well, it is not at all surprising to realise that such elements are indeed clearly audible in “March Of The Norse”, with the only difference that Demonaz’s understanding of good quality guitar melodies are not those traditionally used by most Black Metal bands. In his quest to create simple but memorable solos, choruses and atmospheric passages, the quite talented Norwegian has looked for inspiration in the music of bands like Iron Maiden and it is the skilful way with which he has combined all these ‘ingredients’ that makes this simply-crafted album such a quality musical proposition!

Every time I close my eyes and listen to the acoustic guitar theme of the opening track “Northern Hymn” my mind goes back to the day when I first held Bathory’s 1991 opus “Twilight Of The Gods” in my hands – a feeling that is further enhanced through the commanding riffs of the four and a half minute “All Blackened Sky”…true epos! The opening guitar melody of the same titled “March Of The Norse” brings goosebumps every time I listen to it and, when combined with an array of Iron Maiden sounding twin guitar solos, the result is simply mind blowing! Another case of Bathory-meets-Maiden is the mid-tempo “A Son Of The Sword” while the five minute “Where Gods Once Rode” is an absolute monster of a song, featuring not only a Bathory-influenced vocal choir but also an acoustic guitar break that carries with it an amazingly emotional melody. Things remain simple in “Under The Great Fires” and “Over The Mountains”, both supported by some truly massive mid tempo riffs, and the short break provided by the acoustic instrumental “Ode To Battle” is enough to help you catch your breath prior to having the monstrous riffs of “Legends Of Fire And Ice” drain the last ounces of energy from your body!

It has been a long, long time since Demonaz created havoc with a six string in his hands, but it seems that he is capable of doing exactly that in his newly-acquired role as a singer of this very impressive musical project. Bands like Iron Maiden and Bathory have been copied relentlessly by scores of music enthusiasts over the years, but it is only a few people who have managed to create a musical hybrid as successful as that which Demonaz is presenting us with here. I am both impressed and excited by this beautiful album but, most importantly, I am quite curious to see how Immortal are going to top such a commanding release with their next album! Oh, If only I could be a fly on the wall of Immortal’s recording studio…

John Stefanis

Rating: **** (4.0/5.0)

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In this show, first broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 2 February 2020, David Randall plays a selection of tracks from some of the artists who impressed at this year’s Giants Of Rock event in Minehead (24-27 January).

Featured Albums w/c 17 February (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 NEWMAN Ignition (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK SWAN Shake The World (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 CORMAC O CAOIMH Swim Crawl Walk Run (indie)

Power Plays w/c 17 February (Mon-Fri)

SHAKRA Turn The Light On (AFM Records)
THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA Transmissions (Nuclear Blast)
RYDERS CREED Lost Soul (Off Yer Rocka Recordings)
FRAMING HANLEY Puzzle Pieces (Thermal Entertainment LLC)
ROBERT HART Mysterious (Escape Music)

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