Immortal was formed by Abbath and Demonaz Doom Occulta after their previous band, Amputation, didn't take off. The band's beginnings can also be traced back to the death metal band Old Funeral, of which both Abbath and Demonaz were members.
Their earlier releases were in a more traditional black metal style, but as of the acclaimed At the Heart of Winter, they have fused black metal with elements of German Thrash Metal, also bringing in a mild Progressive Metal influence. This is partially due to Demonaz getting severe tendinitis in his arms that forced him to stop playing guitar at the time, resulting in Abbath taking over guitar duties. Euronymous of Mayhem is credited for getting Abbath into black metal and as a result, Abbath getting the infamous Varg Vikernes into black metal as well; however, despite these associations, Immortal's primary members have never been involved in the more controversial activities of some of their contemporaries in black metal, and their lyrics have also never involved the religious or political ideologies often associated with the scene.
The band split up in 2003 for various personal reasons. Afterwards, Abbath formed the Supergroup I with various other musicians from the Norwegian black metal scene (including members of such groups as Enslaved and Gorgoroth); the group released the album Between Two Worlds in 2006 to critical acclaim. The band's style is generally considered to be a fusion of Black Metal with the style of Motörhead, also referred to as "black and roll", and has been considered an influence on the later work of other bands, notably Satyricon. I is currently on hiatus, although three of the band members did appear on Demonaz' 2011 solo album March of the Norse.
Immortal reformed in 2007 for a string of live performances; after the reunion, the band decided to reform the band on a permanent basis, releasing the album All Shall Fall in 2009. However, internal conflicts between the band members resulting from tumultuous recording sessions for the band's ninth album resulted in a second disbandment in 2015. What exactly occurred during the sessions seems to depend upon whom you believe, but in the wake of the disbandment, Abbath started a new band in his name (which admittedly is a well known quantity in the world of black metal, so it's a sensible business decision) with bassist King ov Hell and drummer Baard Kolstad.
On August 14, 2015, Demonaz and Horgh announced that they had reconvened the band and that they will continue without Abbath. Demonaz took over the lead vocals and also returned to guitar, having recovered from his tendinitis after having surgery to correct it in 2013. Abbath's first, self-titled album was released in January 2016 through Season of Mist and apparently consists largely of material written for what was supposed to be Immortal's new album before the split. (He will release his second, entitled Outstrider, in July 2019.) Meanwhile, Demonaz and Horgh decided to write and record Immortal's ninth album, Northern Chaos Gods. It is currently unclear how much of the material on this album dates back to the sessions from when Abbath was still in the band, or whether his contributions from those sessions were subjected to an Orwellian Retcon. In January 2018, they announced they had finished the recording, which was released in July by Nuclear Blast to substantial acclaim. The sound on this album is much closer to the band's earlier Pure Holocaust-era sound, which should come as no surprise given the personnel shift, though they do maintain some mild aspects of their At the Heart of Winter sound.
- Demonaz Doom Occulta (Harald Nævdal) - guitar (up to 1997 and again from 2015), lyrics (switched to lyricist and band manager after his injury) (19892003, 2006Present), vocals (since 2015)
- Horgh (Reidar Horghagen) - drums (19962003, 2006Present) (see also Hypocrisy)
- Abbath Doom Occulta (Olve Eikemo) - vocals, bass guitar, guitar, keyboards, drums (19892003, 20062015)
- Apollyon (Ole Jørgen Moe) - bass guitar (20062015)
- Iscariah (Stian Smørholm) - bass guitar (19992002)
- Saroth (Yngve Liljebäck) - bass guitar (live, 20022003)
- Ares - bass guitar (live, 1998; lead singer of Aeternus)
- Hellhammer (Jan Axel Blomberg) - drums (live, 1995)
- Grim (Erik Brødreskift) - drums (live, 19931994) (deceased)
- Kolgrim - drums (demo, 1992)
- Jörn Tonsberg - guitar (demo, 19891991)
- Armagedda - drums (19901992)
- Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism (1992)
- Pure Holocaust (1993)
- Battles in the North (1995)
- Blizzard Beasts (1997)
- At the Heart of Winter (1999)
- Damned in Black (2000)
- Sons of Northern Darkness (2002)
- All Shall Fall (2009)
- Northern Chaos Gods (2018)
Tropes that apply to Immortal:
- Abbey Road Crossing: Abbath Road◊.
- The Band Minus the Face: When they reformed without Abbath.
- Black Metal: The Trope Codifier in terms of fashion and imagery.
- Call-Back: The name for their album Sons of Northern Darkness is taken from lyrics to the song "Storming Through Red Clouds and Holocaustwinds" from their second album, Pure Holocaust.
- Similarly, Northern Chaos Gods was titled after a line from "One by One" on Sons of Northern Darkness.
- The track "Grim and Dark" opens with the lyrics "Far above the ravengate, the spreaded wings of Blashyrkh wait." These lyrics are also the first lines of "Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark)".
- Career-Ending Injury: Demonaz Doom Occulta was forced to stop playing guitar due to developing tendinitis in his arms in 1997. He still writes the band's lyrics and is considered an active member by the band itself. In 2015, following Abbath's departure, Demonaz replaced him as the new vocalist and started playing guitar again after having surgery in 2013 to correct his tendinitis.
- Cover Version: They covered "From the Dark Past" on the Mayhem tribute album Originators of the Northern Darkness.
- Darker and Edgier: Pure Holocaust and Northern Chaos Gods were both quite a bit heavier than their predecessors in the band's discography, to say the least.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Their first album was somewhat slower and more Death Metal-influenced than their later work tended to be, and had a few acoustic guitar passages as well.
- Echoing Acoustics: This started to be a major element of their sound with Pure Holocaust and they haven't toned it down much since.
- Epic Rocking: Most of their songs, especially since they shifted their style to Melodic Black/Thrash Metal on At the Heart of Winter, which consisted exclusively of this trope. All of their albums since Blizzard Beasts have contained at least one example of this, with Sons of Northern Darkness taking the prize for largest number of epic songs after Heart of Winter. Northern Chaos Gods downplays this trope however.
- Grim Up North: Their primary lyrical content and band image.
- Heavy Mithril: Instead of focusing on Satanism like their peers, Immortal's lyrics focus on an imaginary world called Blashyrkh, plagued by war and suffering and ruled over by the Mighty Ravendark.
- Lead Bassist: Abbath was type 2 until 1998. When Demonaz became unable to play guitar anymore, instead of finding new guitarist, Abbath switched to this instrument and Immortal found new bassist.
- Lead Drummer: Abbath played drums on Pure Holocaust and Battles in the North.
- Lighter and Softer: A downplayed case with the albums from At the Heart of Winter through All Shall Fall, which were more melodic and brought in some Progressive Metal and Thrash Metal influence. They're still black metal through and through, though.
- Longest Song Goes Last: Most of their albums qualify: "A Perfect Vision of the Rising Northland" (9:04) from Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism, "Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark)" (4:34) from Battles in the North, "Damned in Black" (6:52) from Damned in Black, "Beyond the North Waves" (8:06) from Sons of Northern Darkness, "Unearthly Kingdom" (8:30) from All Shall Fall and "Mighty Ravendark" (9:14) from Northern Chaos Gods.
- Long Title: Honestly, at least half of them on the first three albums and quite a few after that, but "Storming Through Red Clouds and Holocaustwinds" has to take the cake.
- Loudness War: This has affected all their releases from Battles in the North onwards (Battles also got a remaster which was even louder than the original release). At the Heart of Winter and Damned in Black (both DR5) are probably the worst examples of this in their discography, and All Shall Fall and I's Between Two Worlds stand out as well (both DR6). Abbath's solo album is also affected, although by modern standards it's actually fairly quiet (it's DR7 and still moderately clipped, but many listeners will probably not be able to tell); the same goes for Sons of Northern Darkness, which is more dynamic than most of Immortal's other late-period releases at DR7 and also not as badly clipped as many of them. Their first two albums remain unaffected even in modern issues; Pure Holocaust in particular stands out as a sterling example of the way black metal still ought to sound.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism is mostly a 9 as a result of Early Installment Weirdness, Holocaust through Beasts are pure, hard 10 bordering on 11 (due to the production and the near-constant use of blastbeats) and everything from At the Heart of Winter on is in the 9-low 10 range.
- Northern Chaos Gods brings it back up to the 10-11 range.
- New Sound Album: Two of them — Pure Holocaust for introducing the insanely fast, blastbeat-heavy style they played for most of the '90s and At the Heart of Winter, which began the epic, Thrash Metal —influenced era of their career.
- Northern Chaos Gods is a return to the sound introduced on Pure Holocaust... for the most part; there are still some elements of their mid-period sound, especially on the final track. However, the album hews much closer to the Pure Holocaust sound throughout.
- No Ending: Several songs on Battles in the North (specifically, the first five and track seven) end very abruptly.
- Non-Appearing Title: "Descent into Eminent Silence", "Winter of Ages", "Withstand the Fall of Time", "Wrath from Above", "Against the Tide (in the Arctic World)", "My Dimension", "The Darkness That Embrace Me", "Norden on Fire", "Grim and Dark".
- Progressive Metal: This style is displayed on the albums that Demonaz did not play on.
- Rock Me, Asmodeus!: Averted, which is rare for second-wave black metal.
- Serious Business: Notably averted, at least for the band. Black metal bands tend to take themselves very seriously; Immortal do not.
- Sincerest Form of Flattery: They've made no secret of Bathory's influence on them, dedicating one song on I's Between Two Worlds to Quorthon. With All Shall Fall they take this Up to Eleven as several songs sound like they could have been outtakes from Blood Fire Death. This is hardly a bad thing; it's hard to imagine a better tribute to Quorthon's influence over black metal.
- Stage Names: Nearly every member past and present has one.
- Start My Own: Abbath started his own solo band after leaving Immortal.
- Thrash Metal: This style is displayed on the albums that Demonaz did not play on.
- Title Track: All of their albums have one, with the sole exception of Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism.
- Token Good Teammate: They count to a tee, since they were neither involved in any of the controversial activities of their contemporaries, nor are their lyrics about anything political or religious, in the second wave of black metal.
- Uncommon Time: They like this trope a lot. As an early example, one riff of "Cold Winds of Funeral Dust" has a measure of 6/4 followed by a measure of 7/4. An exhaustive list would take a long time to compile; they generally use it at least once an album and often times more than that. It's one of the reasons they have a reputation as one of the most technical and musically complex second-wave acts.
- Vocal Evolution: Compare Abbath's vocals on the earlier albums like Pure Holocaust and Battles in the North to the ones on later albums like Sons of Northern Darkness and All Shall Fall. Yep.
- We Used to Be Friends: Abbath and Demonaz, who had a lengthy partnership in Immortal that was as lengthy as the partner/True Companionship of Fenriz and Nocturno Culto. But 2015 surprised everyone when Abbath quit Immortal and cut ties with Demonaz over the amount of Noodle Incident in regards to whatever caused the split.