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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immortal- At The Heart Of Winter
After the departure of the most excellent lyricist and guitar player Demonaz, people wondered what Immortal could do. The answer was let Abbath do both the guitars and the bass, with Demonaz providing the lyrics. The result, one of the best albums of 1999. The songs are so massive that there's only 6 on the album, taking up a mighty 45 minutes. The longest Immortal...
Published on 11 Dec 2000 by hypnos@pathwaytodarkness.com

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0 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pure Black Metal, Nothing More
STRAIGHTFORWARD BLACK METAL - FAST RIFFS, EVEN FASTER DRUMS AND DEMONIC
VOCALS FROM ABBATH. LOTS OF RIFFS IN EACH SONG, A SMALL AMOUNT OF KEYBOARD (NOT TO THE EXTENT OF SAY, DIMMU BORGIR). SONGS AVERAGE ABOUT 6 MINUTES. THERE'S NOT A GREAT DEAL OF VARIATION AND THE SONGS DO KIND OF BLEND INTO ONE ANOTHER. ON THE PLUS SIDE THE PRODUCTION IS VERY CLEAR FOR THIS TYPE OF...
Published on 26 April 2008 by Adam Jackson


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immortal- At The Heart Of Winter, 11 Dec 2000
After the departure of the most excellent lyricist and guitar player Demonaz, people wondered what Immortal could do. The answer was let Abbath do both the guitars and the bass, with Demonaz providing the lyrics. The result, one of the best albums of 1999. The songs are so massive that there's only 6 on the album, taking up a mighty 45 minutes. The longest Immortal release, with the least tracks!! Battles In The North had 10 tracks on it, and that is half an hour long.
The riffs are really black metal on this, with majestic keys and some excellent drumming. A very cold sounding release again, and so it keeps in with the others.
Withstand The Fall Of Time, and Tradgedies Blow At Horizon, along with the title track are the best, with the others not far behind. The recurring lyrics about Blashyrkh were greatfully received by me, and i just love the many changing songs.
Not much else to say but buy this or you won't have lived!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At the Heart of Winter., 18 Nov 2010
By 
S. Davitt (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: At The Heart Of Winter (Audio CD)
Immortal have always been a mixed bag for me. When they get it wrong, it goes horribly wrong but when they hit the nail of the head, surely they're the forefathers of cold, icy atmospheric black metal? I first discovered Immortal, like a lot of people, within the first few months of my expedition into the black metal minefield. Unfortunately, I discovered them through the notorious ANUS website at the age of fifteen or so. The ANUS site has a well documented list, which has remained unchanged ever since I first saw it, detailing the "best ever" black metal albums. Immortal's `Pure Holocaust' comes second on that list and therefore I decided I'd check it out since, surprisingly at the time, Immortal's discography was readily available at my local music store, one that normally sells lots of commercial junk. `Pure Holocaust' was really what got me started on black metal, alongside some other notorious albums from the second wave, but it was Immortal's `At the Heart of Winter' which really stuck with me over all these years and how better to break the winter months in than with this old school classic? The thing about albums like this is that, yes, whilst they're cold in certain aspects, I find that some of the melodic riffs, despite their distorted textures, emit a really warm feel, like sitting beside a log fire during a harsh wintry blizzard. Whilst your vital organs remain warm, your hands and feet are as cold as ice. So, whilst the backbone to this album is cold as hell, the riffs are deceptively warm to me.

`At the Heart of Winter' is an album which can be set apart from the others in Immortal's discography. Although `Pure Holocaust' is still good for the occasional session when I'm feeling aggravated, `At the Heart of Winter' is an album which is far more accessible than their other albums simply due to its infectious, intoxicating melodies. There are many reasons why I probably should have hated this album from the very first moment I laid eyes on it but that only reiterates the point that this album is deserving of the "timeless classic" status that so many are unjustly given. As far as Immortal's discography goes, or even the entire second wave movement, I've always felt this album was, and probably still is, rather underrated in terms of the entire genre back then. Back when I first discovered black metal, I had an odd aversion to anything overly melodic and am still not quite schooled in the ways of early thrash metal. Despite all this, `At the Heart of Winter' stuck with me and no matter how many times you play it in a single day, it never grates on my nerves and never ceases to amaze me. Take the main riff on the self-titled song, for example. It never fails to send shivers down my spine as its cold, harsh ways set into skin. This, accompanied with the underlying bass and the flawless drumming, songs like this, which are perfectly conceived and crafted, force me to hold the band in high esteem regardless of whatever faults they've had since then.

As I touched upon, a lot of the material here is rather thrash orientated, like a lot of early black metal. The tempo changes, the chord progressions, the amount of diversity on offer on this album is incredible, even today, a whole eleven years after its initial release. To me, this period of Immortal's discography is a bit of a sore point. I wasn't keen on `Blizzard Beasts', despite loving the wintry essence and vibe of the content. I could never get into those short songs and the riffs didn't feel anywhere near as memorable. So much so I really couldn't pinpoint what I dislike about it because every time I hear the album, I repress it. It doesn't click with me. Neither does `Damned in Black', though I do tend to enjoy that album more so than `Blizzard Beasts', possibly because it touches upon some of the ideas used here - such as the heavily melodic content of the riffs - albeit not to the same extent. This era of Immortal highlights exactly what has made me view the Norway legends are hit-or-miss. With `Blizzard Beasts' coming soon after the enigmatic `Pure Holocaust', an album which really set the tone for Abbath, in particular, it did nothing to ignite the flame of my passion for the band and instead extinguished it.

So, as you can imagine, coming into this album, I was more than a little apprehensive but it delivers spectacularly and in ways I didn't even imagine were possible for Immortal at that time. The imagery, the conjuration of wintry landscapes, icy kingdoms and cold weather is superb. It's one of the major themes of this album which made it such a treasure over the years. Abbath's typically charismatic vocal approach is brilliant, despite the comical reputation he has since garnered for his over-the-top performance in Immortal's iconic videos in the woods. It's easy to forget what he achieved with this album which was almost entirely his doing. Aside from Horgh providing the drumming, which he does magnificently, Abbath controls the bass, guitars, vocals and the synthesizer, which is used exceptionally well on songs like the self-titled, a particular hit on the album, alongside `Solarfall'. I often like to listen to the introduction of the self-titled song for the first two minutes whilst glancing over the wonderful artwork. They go hand-in-hand ever so well. The spectacular kingdom amidst the icy landscape whilst the music itself is portraying the same thing, simultaneously, is marvellous. The samples of subtle howling winds may seem clichéd today but they're ever so affective on this particular album. Especially alongside that symphonic synthesizer, an aspect of the album which is probably unfairly overlooked due to its sparse inclusion. Regardless of that, this album will always be regarded by myself as an old school classic. One that is truly deserving of that acclaim.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Claassic, 18 Oct 2008
By 
Hedon (Eternal Night) - See all my reviews
This review is from: At The Heart Of Winter (Audio CD)
Now, i'm not, nor ever probably will be, a black metal fan. While i do like many bands that use elements of black metal (Summoning, Arsis, Stormlord, Falkenbach, Equillibrium etc )I've always found the genre to be high on pretention and elitism whil low on actual musical content, and to be honest the thought of listenting to some croaking second-rate satanist over endless tremelo riffs and neverending blast beats just doesn't do anything for me. But for some reason i was drawn to this album, mainly through the cover art, and after reading a little bit about the band i decided to be brave and take the plunge. What i discovered was one of the best metal albums i've heard in a long time.

All the usual tennats of black metal are present on ATHOW such as the blast beats and the nails-on-chalk board vocals, but there's just so much more on offer here that black metal only begins to tell the story. Let start with the instrumentasim...
For one, the guitar work is utterly fantastic! Yes there is the token tremelo picking going on, but there's also a huge amount of dissonant melody and icy harmonies going on that give the album a really huge, epic feel (yes, you can be epic without choirs and orchestras). Yup, Immortal proved on here that you can use melody without comprimising the abrasive nature of their music. But to balance tings out, theres a pretty big dose of technical thrash thrown in there and also a drop of death metal to kinda muscle the guitars out, not to mention some soaring yet undeniably evil riffs and leads. Immortal are alo unafraid of throwing in the odd clean guitar section, such as on Solarfall, which breaks up the music nicely. Likewise, the drumming is phenomenal, not only because they blast beat like a machine gun but the drummer can also slow down, hitting huge grooves and some bouncy tempo changes which gives the music a much deeper texture and more interesting and exciting feel then your average black metal band. And the bass is actually audiable, whcih is almost a miracle for this type of music. Yes, you can here the bass! Which brings me onto the production...
Immortal have shunned the (ridiculous in my opinion) obsession their peers have with 'lo-fi' productions and checked into the Abyss studios for an awesome production job. Crunchy guitars blast your ears like walls of ice, the drums cut through you like thunder, and vocals are evilly haunting, and did i mention YOU CAN ACTUALLY HEAR THE BASS! yet the album still has a rough, gritty edge to it thats so satisfying. Its such a nice change from albums which sound like (and probably are) recorded in someones attic with a dictaphone.

But whats really wonderful about ATHOW is the songwriting. Songs are very prog and almost work like mini-musical pieces on their own, building up and down in intensity, time change here, tempo change their, and are just mesmorizing to listen to. and, as already mentioned, the elements of death and thrash work wonderfully with the ice cold feel of Immortals black metal roots, while the prog rock elements keep everything interesting. and even though some of the songs are pushing 8 or 9 minutes, i never get bored. in fact, every time the album finishes i get the feeling that its too short even though its over 50 minutes.

So, to sum up ATHOW is just such a damn good album you should all get it, even people who don't like black metal like me. To be honest, there so much more going on here then straight black metal i hesitate to even call it that. The song writing is out of this world, the guitar work and drumming very creative and abrasive yet tuneful as well, and the production rounds everthing off perfectly. Like i said, one of the best metal albums i've heard in ages.

Kinda ironic isn't it, that Immortal became one of the best black metal bands ever only when they began to step outside the confines of the genre?

Highly recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At The Heart Of Winter, 25 Sep 2004
This review is from: At The Heart Of Winter (Audio CD)
The following review was written by me for The Metal Garage [...]
Instantly this album scores some points with the album cover. It's the only one the band have released which doesn't include them in a hilarious pose (though the album sleeve is full of them). And with the new style of cover comes a change in Immortal's music. No longer are the band playing their ultra fast black metal, and instead have gone for a mid tempo pace for the majority of the album, though it does have it's occasional fast section. Perhaps this is due to Demonaz no longer playing guitar, which he had to do because of a problem in his wrist, though he still wrote the brilliant lyrics for this album.
'Withstand the Fall of Time' kicks the album off. Some great guitar riffs and superb drumming along with some interesting tempo changes makes for a great song. It changes speed frequently, beginning at a rather slow pace, before launching into ultra speed and then switching to mid-pace and continues to do so for the duration of the song. Despite all the tempo changes, the song still flows smoothly, as does the rest of the album. Occasionally, the band throws in a keyboard passage, like on 'Solarfall' (one of my favourite black metal songs ever), which gives the album variation, depth, and added emotion.
The production on 'At The Heart Of Winter' has a cleaner sound than previous releases, which is a huge benefit as the superb guitar riffs can be heard much more clearly now, instead of being full of distortion like before. The album has more melody too, making it catchy at times, like on the chorus of 'Where Light and Dark Don't Differ' where you'll probably find yourself singing along, and during the main riff of the title track, which will get stuck in your head for ages.
'At The Heart Of Winter' is simply a stunning album, and comes highly recommended to any black metal fan.
Darren Morrison
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riff Mountain, 24 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: At The Heart Of Winter (MP3 Download)
Let me make this quite clear: Immortal are going to Riff Mountain. And they are travelling by way of Riff Valley, Riff Forest, crossing the Riff River and including a stop at Riff Castle, which I assume is depicted on the front cover of the album. There are, it would seem, a lot of riffs on this album.

The fact that my personal favourite riff is finished a minute into the first song (the colossal 'Withstand the Fall of Time') doesn't really take away from the powerful journey that the album takes the listener on - that introduction is merely a statement of intent and you will know right away whether or not you like 'At the Heart of Winter.

For those searching for grim black metal or the more aggressive style of Immortal's earlier work there might be some disappointment or confusion, since AtHoW combines the frosty tremolo riffs and blastbeats of traditional black metal with a more dynamic and varied use of guitar styles drawn from thrash metal, power metal and, occasionally, folk metal. Vocals are not a focal point: I'm not convinced Abbath is that sure what he's growling about (I'm certainly not) and the vocal sections are quite short considering the lengthy songs, so at least they never get boring. Leads and clean sections crop up a few times, mostly towards the end of the album, and are all well-judged and welcome changes of pace, especially the more thoughtful parts of the title track.

But really, we're here for the riffs.There are little ones, BIG ones, fast ones, more considered ones, long ones, catchy ones, headbanging ones, verse-type riffs, epic riffs, aggressive riffs, and so on. By the time 'Years of Silent Sorrow' ends, we have well and truly arrived at Riff Mountain.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brutal ode to the far north!, 5 Dec 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: At The Heart Of Winter (Audio CD)
This album is brilliant, punishing and atmospheric black metal as heavy as it is melodic. Fans of Cradle of Filth or Emperor should check these guys out. Great concept aswell.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning!, 17 Jun 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: At The Heart Of Winter (Audio CD)
Immortal are probably the best old-school black metal band around, and this is probably their best album. Production is excellent, songwriting is pure Immortal and the performance on disc is nothing short of phenonemal.
Like your metal? Then get this.
55555
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very Good Album, 16 July 2006
By 
D. S. Van Strien (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: At The Heart Of Winter (Audio CD)
This is completely different from earlier Immortal releases, in that is a cleaner and a more melodic album. But still keeping the 'Black Metal' feel to it and keeping the corpse paint as always, but now MUCH longer and progressive songs... The voice is much like the previous album, and better than PH and BITN.

All are standout tracks. But the best is probably 'Solarfall'...

Buy this if your an Immortal fan! Thats a MUST. But also BUY if you want to get into this band... As it is much more melodic and a cleaner sound, but remember this IS different from earlier releases!
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frozen Black Metal, 26 July 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: At The Heart Of Winter (Audio CD)
Ok, on browsing the booklet in the CD a lot of people get the impression that Horgh has not only eaten all the pies, but is blissfully unaware of what he looks like.
But despite the Geisha/Suma crossbreeding this album is one of Immortal's best ever. Superb production, with a chorus sound on one or two of the tracks that I would LOVE to have, as well as a great guitar sound overall. (Check out the intro to Track 5 - "At The Heart Of Winter")
For anyone who has not heard Immortal before, i'd describe their sound as a normal heavy metal sound primarily, with an load of double bass drumming and blast beats, and trem picking from hell! And they seem to have a thing for the cold... :) Better than Blizzard Beasts (because of the much better production), and with a smaller line up than previous Immortal incarnations (due to a guitarist - Might be Demonaz, can't remember - getting tendonitis in his arms due to extreme cold and not warming up and stuff) but still an excellent and highly recommended album.
Recommended for fans of Emperor, Cradle Of Filth, Borknagar, all the usuals... :)
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 22 April 2006
This review is from: At The Heart Of Winter (Audio CD)
Just brilliant. Five-hundred miles an hour, and a singer who sounds like Popeye in a bad mood, but the music is actually very tuneful, despite being viscious and over-the-top. Unlike much black metal, this is very accessible and you can get into it on the first listening. Highly recommended. Oh - and the pictures in the sleve notes are hilarious.
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