Monday, 27 February 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Immolation - "Atonement"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/02/2017
Label: Nuclear Blast




Eleven focused and taut tracks of atmospheric death metal is what you get and it is delivered superbly,  this is an interesting and engaging listen with a heart of absolute darkness.


“Atonement” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. The Distorting Light (3:14)
2. When The Jackals Come (3:54)
3. Fostering The Divide (3:27)
4. Rise The Heretics (3:41)
5. Thrown To The Fire (4:04)
6. Destructive Currents (4:26)
7. Lower (4:01)
8. Atonement (4:32)
9. Above All (4:55)
10. The Power Of Gods (3:58)
11. Epiphany (4:22)

The Review:  

Immolation are something of an East Coast death metal institution these days. Ross Dolan and his not so merry men have perfected a kind of “rolling tank” style of death metal which is quite distinct from many other US death metal masters. Certainly, the atmosphere and texture on offer here is different to anything from Florida.

Indeed, this album is a very different proposition to “Kingdom of Conspiracy from a couple of years back. Opener “The Distorting Light” brings a pitch black atmosphere, echoing vocals and a distinctly modern death metal approach to sound and production- reverbed, bassy and big sounding. Much of the material here is not lightning fast- sure there are fast blast beats, but the melodies (if that is the right word) are often quite slow moving, as are the vocals. “When The Jackals Come” is a good example, and in this way the record shares something in common with the best black metal- but is way heavier. “Fostering The Divide” is slow and steady, with the distinctive rolling style that we have come to know and love from Immolation.

There are no epic tracks here, so the arrangements are tight and focused with plenty of riffs and changes, but not so many that the album is hard to follow. Running consistently through the album is a very dark atmosphere, though; it permeates “Rise The Heretics” and “Thrown To The Fire” and even when things are faster, as they are on “Destructive Currents”, the bleakness is all consuming.

There is clean guitar to be heard on “Lower” (and at other points in the record), but only for the intro as things then get very weighty and very, very dark. The title track is a bit of an album high point for me; frenetic changes, dissonant riffage and lovely soloing (as per). The final three tracks (taking the count all the way up to eleven) continue the atmosphere, but “Above All” is more straightforward fare in terms of delivery, as is “Power Of The Gods”. The track placement is solid- more experimental stuff early on and more straightforward death metal down the back stretch to keep the listener interested via direct heaviness and weight of riffs.

As is standard with death metal, by the time “Epiphany” rolls around the album has run the right length. Too much of music this heavy is, indeed, too much. Eleven focused and taut tracks of atmospheric death metal is what you get and it is delivered superbly, as usual. Time will tell if this matches the heights of “Kingdom...” as that was one of my top albums of 2013, but on the first few listens this is an interesting and engaging listen with a heart of absolute darkness.

“Atonement” is available here


Band info: facebook

FFO: Incantation, Morbid Angel, Suffocation, Dead Congregation

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