Immolation | ‘Atonement’
The clean strings, plucked and bent up like loose wires – and you know that the explosion is coming in seconds.
It’s the sound that’s an Immolation trademark, and over the crucial years of their five or six best album run, was as reliable as the clock.
Though they’re still by some margin one of the more individual and powerful bands in death metal, it’s been a little sad that there hasn’t been much to get excited about from them over the last decade.
Albums have been variations on a theme; productions seeming a little weaker or more plastic. A shame.
There’s just a frisson however about these opening notes.
Even with no other instruments sounding you somehow know from the tone that it’s just better – that its all just going to be better. And so it is. This album is the sound of a band on fire again.
First thing that hits is the classic nature of the opening track. It could have been off anything from ‘Failures’ through to ‘Unholy Cult’ – the latter especially. It just sounds right, fitting in with your idea of what Immolation should be like a comfortable and well worn pair of shoes.
It feels fast, impulsive, angry. There are the right breakdowns in the right places, pinch harmonics – all delivered with what seems like refound vim.
The tappy solos are fluid, but end crinkly with last notes that just as ever seem somehow difficultly wrought out. Again, exactly what we’ve come to love from Rob Vigna.
One of the best on here is the excellent beat of ‘Fostering The Divide’ (a political thought for America 2017 on wonders?), with that tat-tat-tat vamp on the dark china cymbal, and all those cool rolls in between.
I was one of many who really miss Alex Hernandez’ immediately recognisable drumming from the band. They’ve never really sounded the same to me since he went. Steve Shalaty never seemed to me to have quite the same idiosyncracy that the band relied upon. With tracks like this one though, it sounds as though he’s finally growing into the same playing space that Hernandez did so effortlessly. It’s so very different from the pack.
Songs like that one show the extent of the effort and energy they’ve put into this album. It is far from the conveyor belt style that unfortunately infected a few of their more recent works.
Dolan Out Punishment
The sumptuous tone of the reverse guitar at the start of ‘Thrown To The Fire’ opens a strange and slightly more leftfield track than you’d expect from Immo, with the riffs feeling off the level on several occasions – except that it’s absolutely cool.
Dolan is Dolan. He doesn’t change. Does he need to? Some might say yes. But what would he do, what would he sound like with any more emotion or different parts of his voice? It might just ruin things. So lets leave him as he is. That gravel growl sure ain’t broke.
Anyway, look, that’s enough waxing on. All you really need to know about this album is that its a superb and, really importantly, meaningful return to form from a bunch of guys who you can just hear are absolutely on point.
You can hear in the speed, the anger, just how much wind is in their sails with this. And what a relief that after several album’s relative drought, the prodigal sons are back. What a band!
4.2 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 17/02/17