Kult Review: Immortal at Gramercy Theatre, Feb. 19

Every time Norwegian black metallers Immortal hit North American shores it’s a special, exclusive event, with extremely limited tour dates and only one special guest opener. As such, tickets go like hot cakes and old and young ‘bangers alike crawl out of their holes to experience the trio’s frosty, hard-rocking metal.

For their latest six-city assault, supporting their 2009 album All Shall Fall, the Bergen heavies tapped cult American black metal group Absu. And unfortunately for me, I arrived at the sold-out New York show just as Absu were finishing up their last number, “Never Blow Out the Eastern Candle.” I was bummed, as the crowd was seriously excited by their set.

After a very long wait and an epic intro tape, drummer Horgh, bassist Apollyon and the one-and-only Abbath (guitars and vocals), marched onstage with conviction, and ripped right into All Shall Fail’s title track, followed by “Sons of the Northern Darkness” (from the 2002 album of the same name) and another new one, “The Rise of Darkness.”

Despite their unabashed energy, the set got off to a bit of a shaky start, mostly due to minor technical problems. Unfazed, Immortal soldiered on with their signature brand of frostbitten extreme metal. Abbath—who has got to be one of the most entertaining and charismatic figures in black metal—never fails to deliver with stage banter and theatrical presence that recalls Kiss and Motörhead more than Slayer or Possessed.

IMMORTAL LIVE IN 2007 “SOLARFALL”:

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Throughout the 75+ minute set, the band delivered a good amount of tracks from All Shall Fall (including “Hordes to War” and “Norden on Fire”) and Sons of Northern Darkness (“One by One,” “In My Kingdom Cold” and the fan-favorite “Tyrants”), with only two tracks from their genre-redefining album At the Heart of Winter (“Withstand the Fall of Time” and “Solarfall”). They also worked in the title cut from Damned in Black, “Grim and Frostbitten Kingdoms, from Battles in the North, and “The Sun No Longer Rises,” from Pure Holocaust.

I enjoyed the All Shall Fall album, so seeing the new songs was a pleasure. Although I would’ve liked to see the band play a broader selection of cuts outside of Sons, the thrashier style of their later albums works well live.

All told, even with the truly brutal admission price ($45, before fees!) and thin supporting bill, fans still raged heavily with the Norsemen. The Sons of Northern Darkness deliver again!

 

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