Immortal: Cold Cuts
Originally published in Guitar World, 30th Anniversary 2010 issue
The king of northern darkness Abbath talks to Guitar World about the resurrection of Immortal and the band's latest record, All Shall Fall.
Abbath Doom Occulta has a cold. “You know this— how do you call it—sinusitis?” the frontman of Norway’s Immortal asks over the phone from his home in Bergen. In his accented English, the word takes on a kind of audible stench. “It fucking sucks!”
His stuffy nose aside, Abbath is in relatively high spirits, and with good reason: his legendary black metal band, Immortal, has just released its first studio album since 2002. Titled with typical good-times optimism, All Shall Fall demonstrates how undimmed Immortal’s power remains two decades after the group’s formation. The album reflects, Abbath says, “a natural development” of the Immortal sound. “It’s only seven songs, but it’s very diverse. It sounds like classic Immortal in a new fashion.”
In Immortal’s original lineup, Abbath served as the group’s bassist, but when founding guitarist Demonaz Doom Occulta developed tendonitis in 1997, Abbath took over guitar duties. Currently, Demonaz writes Immortal’s lyrics and serves as Abbath’s trusted adviser. “He sits with me when I put on my war paint before a show,” the frontman says. “We always listen to Motörhead. It’s a very special thing.”
When Immortal broke up in 2003, Abbath formed I, a black-metal supergroup with members of Gorgoroth and Enslaved. The group rarely performed, however, and before long Abbath felt the urge to be onstage again, prompting him to reform Immortal, in 2007. The quality of the live shows convinced him and Demonaz that the time was right for a new album.
Although Abbath insists that he and his bandmates are no more interested in pleasing the outside world than they’ve ever been, he concedes that black metal occupies a very different cultural space now than it did during Immortal’s original run. “It’s gotten more attention, that’s for sure,” he says. “And there’s a new generation coming up. My son is 15, and there are kids in his class like, ‘Oh, you’re Abbath’s son!’ ” As for the boy himself, “He’s not so much into what I do,” Abbath admits. “He likes AC/DC and Iron Maiden.”