Between Two Worlds

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Citing equal amounts of inspiration from Bathory and Kiss, Norwegian supergroup I set out to bridge the chasm separating black metal and rock & roll (i.e., black & roll) -- with their 2006 album, Between Two Worlds. And most listeners are bound to agree that they've succeeded, with memorable songs like "Warriors" and the title cut building upon simple but surprisingly high caliber rock & roll riffs, which are then threaded with evocative, often morose-sounding harmonies. Occasional bursts of double kick-drums launch other tracks like "The Storm I Ride" and the excellent "Cursed We Are" towards thrash territory, but don't expect either of the two genres' stylistic extremities; things like blastbeats or blues licks -- these are exceptions, rather than the rule. Instead, it's mid-paced material that rules the day here, with well-constructed power chords gaining majestic eloquence on additional standouts like "Mountains," "Days of the North Winds" (featuring discreet synthesizer touches and a stellar guitar solo), and the respectfully executed Quorthon tribute, "Far Beyond the Quiet." As for the vocals, I's chief architect, Olve Eikemo (aka Abbath, of Immortal), still can't sing in a traditional, melodic sense, so he retires his token black metal rasp in exchange for a throatier, Lemmy-style croak, which suits the proceedings just fine. In sum, Between Two Worlds isn't likely to cross over into the pop charts anytime soon, but it contains plenty of inspired music, fit for fans of both black metal and underground hard rock. Almost makes you wonder whether the possibility of an Immortal reunion is even worth bothering with, when I becomes a viable alternative.

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