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March 10, 2008 | by  | in Music |
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Immortal Interview

Immortal are the ice masters of Northern black metal. Grim, pummelling and powerful, they have been making seriously fine blizzards of “pure holocaust metal” since 1989.

However, they refuse to take themselves too seriously, shunning the religious and racial ideologies which often infect their black metal peers. Salient called up Immortal’s lyricist, manager and former guitar player Demonaz Doom Occulta. Demonaz was forced to give up axe-wielding duties for the band in 1997 after his years of extreme shredding gave his arms acute tendonitis. Singer and former bassist Abbath Doom Occulta moved onto guitars and the rhythm section was rearranged.

Demonaz noted that the band doesn’t really care about the rest of the world, only its music: “The day that I wake up and it feels like a job I don’t want to do it – it’s a passion. The bands that tour all the time to make money – get a fucking job and make some good music as a hobby instead.” This attitude is the reason Immortal split up in 2003 (reforming in 2006), and is also what led Demonaz to play his axe so hard that he cannot play no more, although he continues to pen the band’s lyrics.

Demonaz’ songs are set in Blashyrk, a grimcold world of wintry war and blizzards, stocked with ravens (the messengers of fear) and ruled by the Mighty Ravendark: “We wrote about our own surroundings, we were drinking whisky in the woods at night and having makeup on and we were breathing fire in the woods. We wanted to bring that into the music – the ravens are real, the forest’s real, the nature is real. There is no God in Blashyrk, the nature is the god. When I go and see a fucking mighty mountain it’s punishing, it’s part of Blashyrk. A mountain is a real thing.”

Immortal stride through this world (which apparently lies somewhere in the nebulae dimensions) daubed in war paint, bringing in their wake the final ice age. Immortal have represented this in their video ‘The Call of the Wintermoon’ where they ran about the woods in witches’ outfits breathing fire and pulling silly faces.

Despite the presence of this mythology in Immortal’s work, and their famed use of stark white and black war paint, the band has been the most musically-focused of the classic black metal bands. Black metal began as an offshoot of death metal in the late 80s to early 90s; it was initially defined by an anti-Christian ideology, rather than by the atmospheric wash-of-noise sound which eventually came to signify the genre. Yet while a host of members from Emperor and Mayhem eventually made their way to prison for burning down historic churches and killing one-another, Immortal’s leaders have shied away from such behaviour. Abbath once commented “I’m too busy with Immortal to spend any time in jail! And if you burn down a church, it’s going to cost you because your tax dollars are just going to have to pay to rebuild it anyway. That’s how it is with the Christians here…”

Immortal have gone from being specifically anti-Christian, with an inverted cross incorporated in their initial logo, to more defiantly non-Christian, but not particularly interested in complaining about religion – they have found more enjoyable things to focus on. Like ravens an’ shit. As Demonaz explained to me, “we wanted to do things from a Northern way… I don’t believe in the Christian hell so why would I write about it, y’know? It doesn’t make any fucking sense. We have our own things, so we are leaders… We’re not fucking slaves.”

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Tristan Egarr edited in 2008. He threw a chair once.

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