I'mmortal (Immortal) Biography
Last updated: 03/22/2003 04:46:56 AM
There was a vision... A vision of an outstanding and individual concept, which would last for many years hence. Inspired by the great nature and surroundings of Os - a dark forest 30 km south of Bergen, Norway - two young men, Abbath doom Occulta and Demonaz doom Occulta, created Immortal in the autumn of 1990. They had both been involved in the Norwegian metal scene for a couple of years, Abbath in Old Funeral and Demonaz in Amputation. From the start, the vision was clear: to create a band in which music and image had a special, individual identity and feeling. Bands like Bathory, Possessed and Celtic Frost were early inspirational sources for both of them, not only musically, but also visually.
These first years in the history of Immortal were very important, since it was a time full of mystery and inspiration. To live out the concept to the full, Abbath and Demonaz began stalking the woods, drinking whisky and breathing fire. The natural surroundings of their home territories - including mighty mountains and deep fjords as well as dark forests and ruins - have always meant a lot to the band. It was here where Abbath and Demonaz found their own sacred places, which they named Blashyrkh. The concept of Immortal has always been based upon Blashyrkh, this fictional realm of demons and northern blizzards.
The original line-up of Immortal featured two other persons. Guitarist Jorn Inge Tunsberg (now in Hades Almighty) had played in the previous band Amputation. So had the very first drummer of the group, Gedda (also known as Armagedda), who was the best drummer they've had until present skinbeater Horgh entered the scene in 1996. Even though Armagedda remained in the band for nearly two years, he didn't have the same attitude as Abbath and Demonaz. This would later become the reason for his departure.
Still in a heavy period of inspiration, the band started to write some material in the winter of 1990-91. Songs like "Enslaved In Rot" and "Suffocate The Masses" were the earliest efforts. Intense rehearsing followed and later in 1991 they recorded their first demo entitled "Suffocate". After the second demo "Northern Upins Death" was recorded in the summer of that same year, guitarist Jorn got kicked out of the band. Immortal have never returned to the four-piece line-up again. Meanwhile, French label Listenable Records showed interest in the demo and wanted the band to do a 7" single. The winter gives the members extra strength to create dark, evil music, and so songs like "The Cold Winds of Funeral Frost" and "Unholy Forces of Evil" were written in the late months of 1991. Of course, the visual side has always been important, thus making photo-sessions a special moment. When the single was recorded in the winter of '91, a giant storm turned the weather into a true winter. They arranged a session later that night, and it was so cold that it took hours to prepare it...
Among the labels that had shown early interest for the group was Osmose Productions in France. They offered Immortal a two record contract, and the band went for the deal. Abbath, Demonaz and Armagedda entered Grieghallen Studios in April 1992 to set their debut-album onto tape. Some months later Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism appeared on the metal-scene, and received a very good response. Produced by the legendary Eirik "Pytten" Hundvin, this first opus from Immortal is full of atmosphere and mystical feeling. Actually, the title of the album was supposed to be "Battle In The North", but the members changed it to "Diabolical..." because they thought it would fit the music better. Musically, DFM doesn't reach the high speed of the later releases, since it's a lot more atmospheric, including several acoustic guitar parts. The lyrics for the album set the standard for what we have come to expect from Immortal: evil nights and darkness accompanied by tales of old Norse history.
A couple of months after the release, drummer Armagedda was told to leave the band. The reason cited was personal differences, as Gedda didn't share the other members' attitudes. His replacement was a relative unknown named Kolgrim. As the least successful Immortal drummer, he only did one live-gig in Bergen in December 1992 and was fired shortly thereafter due to laziness. A couple of months earlier, the "black metal" movement in Norway had become hot news for media, and a TV-company in Bergen wanted the band to appear in an interview and to record a "black metal video". They approved, not knowing what a mistake it would be. Immortal chose to do a video of the track "Call of the Wintermoon", recorded it within 2 (!) hours and appeared on the TV interview later that evening along with the broadcasting of the video. Abbath, Demonaz and Kolgrim explained their band's unique concept to the unappreciative TV-reporter, who only cared to ask whether they were Satanists or not. Demonaz stated that it wasn't the case, and that their music couldn't be labeled "black metal". Kolgrim proclaimed that Immortal played "holocaust metal", their very own style. Today, Immortal has abandoned the term, and prefers no label at all. Anyhow, the video turned out to be a real mess, not showing the right feeling of the song in any way. It was recorded in the dark woods (in the summer time!) and at the ruins of Lysekloster, where they shot the photos for the Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism cover. Fortunately, the video wasn't released at all, only shown on television that specific night.