On July 6, Norwegian black metallers IMMORTAL — now consisting of lyricist/guitarist Demonaz (real name Harald Nævdal) and drummer Horgh (real name Reidar Horghagen) — will release their highly anticipated new album, "Northern Chaos Gods".
Demonaz tells us about the band's beginnings and what inspired him to start a band in the underground metal scene of the early '90s: "I have always been into the dark side of music, like early BLACK SABBATH; they were the riff masters. Then heavy metal music, thrash metal, underground black and death metal bands emerged. After singing and playing guitar in my first death/thrash metal band, I wanted to start the ultimate band in 1990. I had the name IMMORTAL in my head and started to recruit members. I never felt we were a part of any scene. We had close contact with other black metal bands from Norway, but we were all busy working on our own. I listened to bands like CELTIC FROST, VENOM and BATHORY — they were the ones that inspired me to make dark and evil music. Our first vinyl release was a seven-inch with two tracks in 1992, and then the first IMMORTAL album, 'Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism', followed the same year.
"My very first inspiration to start IMMORTAL came from the environment I grew up in. The cold winters, the dark woods near my home, the great mountains and glaciers. I wanted something unique to bind the lyrics and music together so I created Blashyrkh, which means 'the realm of all darkness and cold' and is based on the dark and cold side of nature.
"Blashyrkh is spiritually the driving force. It holds the identity to IMMORTAL's music: The throne of Blashyrkh, named 'Mighty Ravendark', where ravens dwell on the top of the mountains and are the eyes of Blashyrkh. The mighty mountains, cold, frost, fire, darkness, woods, storms, wind and fimbul winter. The harshness of nature is a never-ending, grim and dark inspiration to me. A part of the mysterious force that surrounds us and slowly erases everything. It wins in the end, because it is timeless and without rules. And thereby my fascination. It is not religious in any form. It's a deep fascination and respect for nature built on instinct. I see pride, power and greatness from the dark perspective.
"Late nights in the woods, breathing fire, embracing darkness, being obsessed by nature, the moon and winter. I'm still fascinated by the same things as in the early days of black metal. It never stopped and that's what makes me able to keep the spirit alive. I walk the woods to the mountains every day or in the night, no matter what the weather or conditions. It's a drive that brings me in balance with music. It inspired all my writing. Every riff, line, word and song of IMMORTAL through the years has been in my ears, and in my head from the deep forests and all the way to the frozen mountaintops.
"In 1997, I got diagnosed with tendinitis in my left arm. I never stopped playing or composing but had to reduce my playing time. It became difficult to rehearse for what was required for playing live. We continued to work like before with the music, and had some different session bassist over the years.
"In 2012, I had an arm operation. I recovered and could play on a normal level again a year later. I created the first guitar riffs for this album in late 2015, when we got rid of our internal problems and could focus on music again. All songs were finished in 2016 and it was a relief to record the guitars at this level again on the new IMMORTAL album 'Northern Chaos Gods'.
"These days, I really look forward to finally see the release of the full album on the 6th of July. So far the reactions from the fans has been awesome from the title track single 'Northern Chaos Gods' that we released on the 25th of May."
"Northern Chaos Gods" was produced by Peter Tägtgren (Abyss Studio), who also helmed IMMORTAL's "At The Heart Of Winter", "Damned In Black", "Sons Of Northern Darkness" and "All Shall Fall" LPs.
Demonaz is now also handling the vocals for IMMORTAL following the 2014 split with frontman Olve Eikemo (a.k.a. Abbath).
In addition to Demonaz (vocals, guitar) and Horgh (drums), IMMORTAL's new disc features Tägtgren on session bass.
IMMORTAL in 2016 said that the delay in getting the new music out to the fans was largely a result of the split with Abbath. "From 2010 until 2014, IMMORTAL wrote all the songs for the successor to 'All Shall Fall', but when ex- member Abbath left the band in 2014, he changed the lyrics, songtitles and recorded these songs for his so-called 'solo album,'" Demonaz and Horgh explained. "We had to focus on making a new album nearly from scratch, which is the main reason why things have taken this much time."
IMMORTAL's core trio consisting of Abbath, Demonaz and Horgh had been together since 1996 and was responsible for crafting the band's last five albums: "Blizzard Beasts" (1997), "At The Heart Of Winter" (1999), "Damned In Black" (2000), "Sons Of Northern Darkness" (2002) and the 2009 reunion album "All Shall Fall".