Last year I bathed in the I nostalgia of Havukruunu‘s Havulinnaan, expressing my undying love for the style and my childish impatience for the newest Abbath. Now with Abbath among us, most of my week is spent fully engrossed in these two albums; each displaying their own unique interpretations (and continuations) of Between Two Worlds. However, even after all these releases, an itch still exists for that pure Immortal sound I’ve been without for years (I know, I’m incorrigible). Because the chances of getting another release worth a damn from Immortal are about as likely as my Writer o’ the Year award, I have no other choice but to look elsewhere for my Immortal Thirst Quencher.1 But where can I find that iciness that somehow defines Immortal but no one else? From whence shall I procure melodic black metal that taps into my heart and freezes my veins into blood Popsicles? Residing in neighboring Sweden, there does exist a purveyor of this frosty, Norwegian style. It’s a band that takes all of the greatest moments of Abbath’s three projects and packs them so tightly into albums, their lids refuse to seal. That band is Rimfrost, and Rimfrost plays Immortal metal.
Debuting in 2006, A Frozen World Unknown is one of the best Immortal albums ever released. This five-song, half-hour package is jam-packed full of Immortal aggression, Immortal atmosphere, and Immortal riffs. And when I mean riffs, I mean a shitload of riffs. Follow-up Veraldar Nagli would be equally impressive if it wasn’t for its length. After an hour of riffs-upon-riffs and chilling mood swings, the exclusion/editing of one or two tracks would have made it a masterpiece. So, when I found out that Rimfrost‘s 2016 self-titled release was also a lengthy one, I feared Veraldar Nagli, Part Two.2 But fear not, my friends. Rimfrost is one of the most consistent bands on the planet, ever-dedicated to keeping that Scandinavian sound fresh and alive. Rimfrost not only showcases the band’s consistency and maturity, but it also stands as the band’s best material yet.
Opener “As the Silver Curtain Closes” takes every emotion and riff Abbath, I, and Immortal have ever put to tape and clips, trims, and arranges all of it into one eight-minute long track. Its intensity and crunch merge perfectly with its icy demeanor (it’s midsection atmosphere and creepy spoken-word segment even bring to mind Immortal‘s “All Shall Fall”). But just when you think it is all over, the song takes an old-school, symphonic-black turn. This mix of emotion and skin-peeling heaviness is also the backdrop for tracks like “Ragnarök” and closer “Frostlaid Skies.” The latter is the perfect bookend to the opener, mimicking its attitude and power in every way. “Ragnarök,” on the other hand, is a sinister mix of signature Norwegian black metal, earthshaking bass work, and a military-esque, snare-tapping outro that serves double-duty as outro to the album.
Rimfrost, much like its predecessors, has an OCD-like inability to stick with the same riff for very long. Rimfrost‘s song lengths aren’t the result of pretentious, post-black atmospheres but, instead, are a necessity for housing all those goddamn riffs. But even with all the non-stop leads, long tracks like “Saga North” and “Dark Prophecies” fly by like they were only a couple minutes long. Where some bands tack on useless riffs, extending the song to unbearable lengths, each time change and thrashy transition gives the song more life than it had before. Even after nearly a dozen listens, every melodic interlude, every crushing breakdown, and every catchy guitar lead continues to satisfy my blackened heart to its very core.
Have I mentioned yet that the production is also fucking fantastic? There is so much bass presence and openness in the master that I forgot I was listening to an old-school, Scandinavian black metal record. The production and the top-notch performances even make the Gorgoroth-inspired “Cold” (perhaps the weakest track on the album) a worthwhile song; allowing it’s simplistic melodic-black atmospheres and Gaahl-like cleans to haunt your soul. Rimfrost may be the product of Immortal‘s legacy (some arguing that it is Immortal), but it stands on its own and breathes new life into this ancient giant. I know it’s only March, but I’m not afraid to say that Rimfrost has already secured a spot in my Records o’ the Year.
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Non Serviam