Review by Felix on October 3, 2023.
No doubt, Immortal's "Pure Holocaust" suffers from its tactless title. But any other negative comments are out of question. To come straight to the point, this album will knock your socks off. Surely, the first wave of the Norwegian black metal explosion brought a lot of fascinating records to light and it is hardly possible to identify its most shining star. However, the second output of Immortal definitely belongs to the best albums of this era and stands in a row with classics such as "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" or "In the Nightside Eclipse".
The most outstanding feature of the here reviewed full-length is its intensity. Immortal have bought a one-way ticket to Blashyrkh's coldest corner with the only intention to unleash an icecold storm. "Pure Holocaust" marks their most vehement album and is a real challenge for the listener. Even the least brutal track, namely "As the Eternity Opens", constitutes a kind of manifesto of darkness and desolation. Particularly perfidious are its strange background choirs - or is it a synthesizer? - at the end. I guess a loud-voiced horde of oversized Valkyries has entered the recording studio in order to add a special note. I usually prefer rather dainty women, but I admit that the muscular ladies from Valhalla have done their job well. Inter alia because of this surprising detail, the mid-paced piece reaches a top position in the internal comparison of the album. Nevertheless, the dark and haunting guitar work of the tune does not stand in the shadow of these vocals from beyond.
Apart from its overwhelming massiveness, "Pure Holocaust" possesses another (less important, but noteworthy) unique feature. Almost every Immortal album is defaced with a band photo artwork. But only the shot of "Pure Holocaust" emanates a charismatic or even iconic feel. Despite the band's obvious affinity for snow covered landscapes, the here presented cover seems to be the ultimate confirmation that black metal must be, sorry for that, black. Be that as it may, let me come back to the music. Although its beginning is faster than the speed of light, "The Sun No Longer Rises" is the closest relative of "As the Eternity Opens". The song slows down during the verses with the effect that the dense guitars and the grim and misanthropic nagging flow into each other while sending shivers down your spine. The apocalypse is near.
I freely admit that the Norwegians have hidden more mid-tempo parts in their songs. Nevertheless, the entire album feels like a blizzard. Especially the bitterness of the relentless leads and the rapidly tormented drums prop up the compositions. The insane opener expresses the devastating approach of the Norwegians in the most sustainable manner and the same applies for the following "A Sign for the Norse Hordes to Ride". But epically titled tracks such as "Storming Through Red Clouds and Holocaustwinds" or "Eternal Years on the Path to the Cemetery Gates" do not stand behind. In terms of density, chaos and violence, they reach more or less the same level as the opening tracks. Apart from this, I mention their titles not without reason. Their figurative words underline the rage of the compositions impressively. Immortal paint eight gigantic pictures while using only the darkest colours.
The title track moves between hectic instrumental sections and less insane verses, before the minimalist chorus opens the next chapter of rampant cruelty. This final document of dominance closes a monument of Norwegian blackness. The valiant hearts of the metallic combatants beat faster for the last time and it goes without saying that Immortal survive this battle. The three-piece has created an album which can be exhibited as the prototype for fierce Norwegian art. Due to its title, it does definitely not lack of purity. But the Holocaust was something quite different.
Rating: 9.7 out of 10590
Review by Kostas on October 3, 2023.
Immortal's second album, Pure Holocaust is a record which wrote history when it comes to black metal. Considered by many as the band's best release, it definitely played an important role in the evolution of the scene and was influential. However, just like Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism, no matter how original it is and how much I appreciate it, I have to be sincere and admit it is not the masterpiece some people claim it is.
Fisrt things first, the sound quality is just as bad as in the band's debut. The musical instruments are difficult to separate in some songs and mixing and mastering only make things worse. Sure, it is not the insufferable sound of the past, but still pretty bad and poor. The lyrics are also once again boring and pointless. Immortal make me wonder in this album if they hide secret messeges or deeper meanings but I always come to the conclusion they just wanted to seem mean or something. The only thing that makes them grim and dark is in fact the guitar riffs, which have improved significantly and are catchy for the most part. Fast and furious I can say, with an extra cult feel.
Everything else when it comes to the music is rather boring. Drumming sounds rather uninspired, despite the extreme speed and energy. The bass lines are simplistic and there is nothing which caught me by surprise there either. And, last but not least, Abbath's voice. This man never seemed very serious to me, but his desparate try to sound evil makes him even ridiculous at some points. And this is a pity, considering his ability to perform some good harsh vocals. Unfortunately, he ends up sounding like a wannabe black metal teenager. Thank Blashyrkh there are parts where he doesn't sing and I am able to enjoy the awesome guitar melodies.
To sum up, Pure Holocaust is definitely an album to respect. It now has has its own place in black metal history plus it is for sure a step forward from Immortal's first awkward album. On the other hand, musically talking there is not really that much to enjoy here, other than some well-written riffs and the idea of listening to something as original. This is just one level higher from being mediocre.
Rating: 5.8 out of 10590