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NORWAY, Bergen

Date Formed 1991

Categories: Black Metal

IMMORTAL

Current Members

Past Members

Biography

Premier Black Metal act IMMORTAL first emerged as a quartet in Bergen during 1990. Founders members vocalist Abbath Doom Occulta (a.k.a. Olve Eikemo) and guitarist Demonaz Doom Occulta (real name Harald Nævdal) drew their inspiration from the fictional landscapes, myth and lore of Blashyrkh embodying this concept not only in their music but also in pilgrimages deep into the woods of Os, learning the craft of fire breathing and employing the maximum quota of black metal regalia in leather, studs, spikes, medieval weaponry and corpsepaint.

During the late 80's the band members Abbath and Demonaz were both in SATANEL, an outfit that also featured BURZUM's notorious Count Grisnackh. This triumvirate also operated the Death Metal unit OLD FUNERAL alongside Tyr and Alligator (Tore Brathseth). SATANAL and OLD FUNERAL ran parallel courses until Demonaz broke away to forge AMPUTATION with drummer Padden and guitarist Jørn Inge Tunsberg. AMPUTATION delivered a brace of demos, 'Achieve The Mutilation' in 1989, also involving guitarist Truls and bassist Jan Atle, and 'Slaughtered In The Arms Of God' in July 1990. Tunsberg exited in the Autumn of 1990 to create HADES ALMIGHTY and AMPUTATION duly folded.

Demonaz soon fired up his next venture, IMMORTAL being assembled in league with colleagues Abbath guitarist Jørn Inge Tunsberg and drummer Armagedda. They were soon in the studio hacking out the 1991 demo, commonly known as 'Suffocate', then putting down four tracks of grim Black Metal entitled 'The Northern Upins Death'.

IMMORTAL's first commercial recording was the limited edition of 1000 'Unholy Forces Of Evil' 7" single released by Listenable Records in October 1991, this actually comprising tracks from their debut demo session under the IMMORTAL banner. IMMORTAL then signed to noted Black Metal exponents Osmose Productions, also based in France. Choosing to work with engineer Eirik Hundvin at Grieghallen studios in Bergen, the band cut their first full-length foundation album in April 1992 and released 'Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism' in July.

In keeping with tradition, IMMORTAL's debut would be high on attitude but low on technical quality with guitars lost in blurring, ice cold riffs of blizzard like intensity, paper thin, fragile yet cavernous drums and tortured vocals abusing all upper frequencies. Shortly after 'Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism', Armagedda was fired and a temporary drummer Kolgrim was installed staying the course for just one gig in Bergen during December 1992. Unfortunately for IMMORTAL, this concert was the subject of a television broadcast which showed the band in a less than flattering light. Kolgrim would be swiftly excised, apparently due to "laziness".

By their next album, the faster paced 'Pure Holocaust', again hewn out by Eirik Hundvin at Grieghallen, the band was down to a duo with Abbath handling drum duties despite sleeve credits acknowledging Erik Brødreskift as the drummer. Brødreskift did in fact join IMMORTAL following the release of 'Pure Holocaust'. This album discarded previous inclinations toward mid-paced bludgeoning and pushed the velocity forward in all sectors, the group attempting to duplicate the savagery of winter storms.

IMMORTAL toured Europe to back up its release on a bill with BLASPHEMY quaintly titled the "Fuck Christ" tour. The dates were a success and a second batch of dates, known as 'Sons of Northern Darkness' were added with support act MARDUK. Erik Brødreskift (retitled 'Grim') lost his position upon the tour's completion later turning up as a member of GORGOROTH for their 1996 'Antichrist' album. (Sadly Brødreskift would commit suicide in October 1999).

Abbath assumed percussion responsibilities for May 1995's 'Battles In The North'. Unfortunately the finalised product proved less than satisfactory. A number of factors conspired against the record, an amateurish mix was savaged by critics, many of whom also noted the track listing was listed incorrectly. Osmose Productions withdrew the first pressing, rectified the mistakes and hastily re-delivered 'Battles In The North'.

IMMORTAL's drum position was now taken by one of the true Black Metal personalities as MAYHEM's Hellhammer (Jan Axel Blomberg stood in for European touring supporting MORBID ANGEL and featured in the David Palsar directed video product 'Masters Of Nebulah Frost'. This two song piece of visual blasphemy, portraying 'Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark)' and 'Grim And Frostbitten Kingdoms', headbanging on mountain tops and screaming under ice, trod a fine line between being supremely nihilistic and utterly cringe worthy.

A permanent skinsman was found in the form of Horgh (a.k.a. Reidar Horghagen) for 'Blizzard Beasts', this record laid down in the fresh locale of Sigma Studios. 'Blizzard Beasts', clocking in at under 30 minutes, thundered out into the mortal world in March 1997. Although IMMORTAL were by now without among the elite of the Black Metal world with ever increasing album sales, even breaking into the national charts in some territories, the band was rocked by the forced exit of founder Demonaz. It was learned that the guitarist was suffering from a form of arthritis that made performing extremely painful. IMMORTAL soldiered on with Demonaz still offering lyrical contributions. The public face of the band evolved to accommodate the changes with Abbath taking guitar duties and Ares (Ronny Hovland) of AETURNUS performing bass guitar. Outside of IMMORTAL Demonaz busied himself on the side project PERFECT VISIONS.

Although Ares bailed out, the machine like fashion of IMMORTAL's output was maintained in February 1999 with the emission of 'At The Heart Of Winter'. This opus had been overseen by Peter Tägtgren at his Abyss Studios. 'At The Heart Of Winter' marked a significant staging post for the band, clad as it was in the first sleeve not to carry a photograph of the band. In their stead, IMMORTAL adorned the record in an elaborate fantasy design. Internally, Abbath switched position to guitar to cover for the absent Demonaz, in doing so enhancing the familiar Immortal assault with a keen edge of precision that had critics hailing the album as technical Black Thrash. The group also donated their rendition of 'To Walk The Infernal Fields' to a Moonfog Productions DARKTHRONE tribute album 'Darkthrone Holy Darkthrone'. For tour work stability was afforded with the introduction of bassist Iscariah (Stian Smorholm) of ENCHANTED.

The April 2000 album 'Damned In Black' provided evidence that recent turbulations had not altered IMMORTAL's onward pursuit as the record sold over 40'000 copies on pre sale and made an impression on the national German charts. With Iscariah prominently on bass guitar, his B.C. Rich Ironbird giving the first real distinction toward the low end on any IMMORTAL record, the band furthered their immersion into full on Thrash. IMMORTAL undertook touring of America alongside ANGEL CORPSE and KRISIUN prior to headline Mexican shows.

Late 2000 had Horgh deputizing as live drummer for PAIN. Abbath also has outside concerns as drummer for DET HEDENSKE FOLK. Meantime bassist Iscariah would donate his services to the 'all star' Black Metal project 'Ceremony In Flames' album from WURDULAK assembled by Killjoy of NECROPHAGIA. The IMMORTAL pairing of Horgh and Iscariah would make a further opening for yet another side venture in union with guitarist Frediablo of DERIDE, WURDULAK and GORELORD and DERIDE's Ole Walanet. This as yet unnamed alliance bowing in with the demo session 'Ghouls Of Grandeur'.

Finally recognised by officialdom beyond the underground, IMMORTAL's 'Damned In Black' was both nominated and awarded for a prestigious Alarm accolade from the Norwegian music industry in the 'Metal' category. That year Immortal offered homage to MAYHEM, donating their rendition of 'From The Dark Past' to an Avantgarde Music tribute collection.

IMMORTAL left longstanding label Osmose Productions signing to the giant Nuclear Blast concern for the February 2002 'Sons Of Northern Darkness' album. Variants included a vinyl edition, put out by former label Osmose Productions, a limited edition "quadfolded" digipack and a metal box. This latter object, restricted to 1000 copies, sold out even before official release.

The band would figure as headliner of the gargantuan European 'No Mercy' touring festival package in March and April of 2002. Also on the billing would be VADER, CATASTROPHIC, DESTROYER 666, HYPOCRISY, DISBELIEF, MALEVOLENT CREATION and OBSCENITY. American support dates to the mighty MANOWAR were also projected. However, this would be without Iscariah who, after a three year term, left the band in late March to concentrate on Killjoy's infamous NECROPHAGIA. Iscariah would also be active as bassist for AMOK, the Grind-Thrash venture fronted by AETERNUS and TAAKE vocalist / guitarist Radek (a.k.a. 'Larva') and, in mid 2003, working alongside ex-SKYCLAD singer Martin Walkyier in the British based THE CLAN DESTINED. IMMORTAL regrouped in May with PAIN bassist Saroth taking the vacant lead guitar role. The following month Abbath took time out to act as guest musician on DIMMU BORGIR's album 'Death Cult Armageddon'.

In July 2003, as IMMORTAL drummer Horgh and ex-IMMORTAL bassist Iscariah unveiled their GRIMFIST, Peter Tägtgren produced project album 'Ghouls Of Grandeur', word leaked that IMMORTAL had folded. Official statements from the band's label Nuclear Blast shortly after put forward the case that the band's career was not in fact but they were taking a lengthy break from activity. Within 24 hours though IMMORTAL themselves confirmed that they had indeed called it a day.

Townsend Avalanche Music compiled an IMMORTAL tribute album entitled 'Epimythion - Tribute to Immortal'. Acts donating to this collection included SUNN O))) with 'Cursed Realms Of The Winterdemons', BEYOND DAWN 'Storming Through Red Clouds And Holocaust Winds', VREID 'As The Eternity Opens', OCD+BRAINCONTROLLER 'Pure Holocaust', ENDWARFMENT 'Unsilent Storms In The North Abyss', TRAGEDY BEGINS 'The Sun No Longer Rises', ZWEIZZ 'Blacker Than Darkness', ENTHRONED 'Eternal Years on the Path to the Cemetary Gates', SETH with 'Battles in the North' along with FUNERAL PROCESSION and AURA NOIR.

Ex-IMMORTAL bassist Iscariah cut demos at studios in Bradford, UK with his DEAD TO THIS WORLD project in April 2005. Meantime, IMMORTAL frontman Abbath joined forces with original IMMORTAL drummer Armagedda, ENSLAVED and MALIGNANT ETERNAL guitarist Arve Isdal, going by the name of Ice Dale, and GORGOROTH bassist King Ov Hell, as TC King, in a project simply entitled I. Former IMMORTAL guitarist Demonaz contributed lyrically.

In June 2006 Abbath indicated in an interview for Germany's 'Rock Hard' magazine that IMMORTAL members were in discussions for a reunion. Shortly afterwards, live appearances were confirmed for 2007. In April the PERFECT VISIONS project of Demonaz was unveiled. This unit also involved drummers Ice Dale, of ENSLAVED and AUDREY HORNE, and Armagedda, of IMMORTAL, plus guest vocalist and lyricist Abbath.

The group album tracks, at Grieghallen and Abyss studios in Norway and Sweden, for 'All Shall Fall' in mid 2009.

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