REVIEW: IMMOLATION – “Atonement”
Many of old-school death metal’s devout share a view, that view is that Immolation are as untouchable as they come – and for good reason. Immolation‘s “classic era” albums – ‘Dawn of Possession’, ‘Here In After’ and ‘Failures For Gods’ remain, to this day, death metal essentials alongside the likes of Alters of Madness, Leprosy and Cause of Death. The albums that followed this “classic era” have all been strong death metal albums, but none, with the exception of 2010’s ‘Majesty and Decay’, have been in the same genre-defining league as the original three. That is until now, until ‘Atonement’.
The first aspect of the album to demand your attention is the cover art. While apocalyptic scenes are certainly not an unusual sight in death metal artwork, the cover of ‘Atonement’ is particularly
Immolation have created an atmosphere of near-impenetrable darkness that gives the whole record a really sinister and unsettling vibe. Where many bands will employ the use of orchestral instruments to create a particularly dark atmosphere, Immolation have crafted a feeling of impending doom, purely through their barbarous riffing and punishing drum work. All the while Ross Dolan‘s demonic guttural vocals keep the sound deeply rooted in the old-school.
Though ‘Atonement’ is packed with truly excellent death metal tracks, as with every album, some tracks stand out more than others. The real highlights come in during the first half though that is not take away from the quality of the rest of the record, as every track is a killer and vital addition. From the ten tonne heavy first single, “Destructive Currents” to the unrelenting brutality of the title track and the classically old-school, Mo
“When the Jackals Come” follows the opening “The Distorting Light” and continues the desolate atmosphere established by that first track. The riff work is really quite unsettling and dissonant, and Steve Shalaty‘s drum work favors groove over unending brutality. The closing moments of the track feature some abrasive lead work that leads into the utterly brutalizing “Rise, The Heretics.” In terms of guitar work and vocal delivery, “Rise, The Heretics” is as heavy as they come. Hooky groove focused and drenched in the gloomy atmosphere the opening tracks created, “Rise, The Heretics” stands as possibly the best song here. “Thrown to the Fire” follows immediately and the lead work accompanying the unsettling riffing instantly further cements the darkness ‘Atonement’ has created. The track as a whole is much slower and groovy compared to much of the rest but still holds the same brutality.
Immolation have never released a bad album. Sure, not all their albums are essential listening, and some are less-brilliant than others, but never have Immolation had a ‘St Anger’ moment. ‘Atonement’ continues that trend of consistency, and then some. Dissonant and desolate, savage and sinister, ‘Atonement’ stands as a near-perfect example of aural brutality that would rival the very best of Immolation’s work.