March Of The Norse
01 April 2011
by Tom Dare
It is something of a tragedy that the guitarist in one of the most legendary of all black metal behemoths was forced to stop playing through medical necessity. While still an integral part of Immortal’s frozen gestalt, Demonaz hasn’t played guitar since 1997. It was inevitable that March Of The Norse, the first record from his new eponymous act, was going to be a matter of some interest.
It is perhaps also inevitable that comparisons with Immortal are instant – March Of The Norse is frosty as frozen hell and sounds like it should be listened to while watching a slow-motion shot of fur-clad warriors striding imperiously up a snow-bound peak. Bathory, Venom and Motorhead are all clear inspirations still, all daubed with the epic, mighty touches you expect and with lyrics about the North, cold, war and mountains. It’s confident, proud and above all oozing impish devilry from every ice-encrusted pore. Sonically, it sounds uncannily like Enslaved guitarist – and former I collaborator – Ice Dale playing a mixture of Battles In The North and Damned In Black with different vocals and better production. Which, for all intents and purposes, it is – after all, that’s who provides the guitars.
What helps March Of The Norse avoid the potential pitfall of being merely a stop-gap while we wait for Immortal to follow up the majesty of All Shall Fall is the absence of the obvious Abbath-isms. Demonaz’s voice is a long way from his cohort’s croak, the riffing style is subtly different, Ice Dale’s leads individual and the approach to song writing sufficiently distinctive that the mind quickly stops comparing the two acts and it becomes automatic to enjoy this on its own merits.
Ultimately, this is the achievement – March Of The Norse is a thoroughly enjoyable thrashy black metal record that has charisma and accessibility despite the thick covering of permafrost encasing it, and does not spend the whole time making you hanker after a new Immortal record. It stands under its own weight, and spends its time bewitching you with an icy spell all of its own.
Listen to ‘All Blackened Sky’ by Demonaz here:
This is an album that makes you want to assemble your riding tack, saddle your horse and sharpen your sword for a journey through a snow-blanketed pine forest to a mystic fjord for adventures under a sky that does not see the sun for months on end. That when it ends you realise you’re not really a Norse warrior and don’t actually own a sword suggests it may not have quite the longevity of an album released by heavy metal’s favourite internet meme, but while the entertainment lasts it is thoroughly engaging.
Sounds like: Immortal with a different vocalist, basically
Top tracks: March Of The Norse, A Son Of The Sword, Over The Mountains
Demonaz – March Of The Norse tracklisting:
All Blackened Sky
March Of The Norse
A Son Of The Sword
Where Gods Once Rode
Under The Great Fires
Over The Mountains
Ode To Battle
Legends Of Fire And Ice