The American death metal legends, IMMOLATION have returned with a new album, entitled Atonement. The latest offering from the band is their tenth studio album, and is their latest release since their 2013 record, Kingdom of Conspiracy. After running for so long, can IMMOLATION still create an album that competes with all the new offerings in death metal today?
The record kicks open with The Distorting Light, which holds no bars in bringing the record into its frantic nature. Insane drum patterns from Steve Shalaty pummel your chest as you bear witness to crushing riffs and exceptional guitar work from Robert Vigna and Alex Bouks. An incredible solo splits the track, while vocals from Ross Dolan add to the ferocity. Straight away, you can tell that even after 29 years of creating music, IMMOLATION show no sign of slowing down, nor any saps in creativity.
When the Jackals Come features similar riffs to that seen in The Distorting Light, yet manages to sound slightly different. Well executed tremolo guitar towards the end makes the outro nice and powerful, while the main body of the track offers the same relentless musicianship you’d expect from the band. The track does sound a little too familiar to the opening track, but the rest of the record makes this forgiveable.
The absolute highlight of this record is the title track, as it offers an example of modern pure death metal, with barbaric riffs, frantic drums, and deathly vocals that are synonymous with the genre. The section featuring slower, more slam-like riffs is a treat, and brings a whole new flavour to the track. Other incredible tracks worthy of a mention on this record are Thrown to the Fire, which tricks you into thinking it’s a gruelling, slow track, before throwing you in the deep end and unleashing its fury completely. The solo on Thrown to the Fire is arguably the strongest too, making it a cracking track to experience. Atonement closes with Epiphany; a grinding, mammoth of a track that finishes the album off beautifully, and is definitely a front runner for the album.
What really stands out in this record is Ross Dolan’s vocal ability, which has only developed over his incredibly long career with IMMOLATION. The band has become a landmark for death metal, and a large part of this is due to the incredible power from Ross’ growls. The album doesn’t bring forth genre-breaking ideas or sounds, but it does deliver good, trustworthy death metal, which can never be a bad thing. It’s also an example of a band’s ability to persist to create new music and avoid running out of ideas after such a long time in the business, which is absolutely commendable.
When a band has been going on as long as IMMOLATION (2017 marks their 29th year of activity), it’s an understandable concern that they’d start to have troubles creating a new sound or remain relevant, especially with the saturation of death metal bands coming out today. Atonement, however, is an homage to true death metal, fully respecting the genres origin but bringing in little tweaks here and there that bring it into a modern era. This record would be most welcome to any death metal fan, and especially those who are newcomers to the genre.
Atonement is out now via Nuclear Blast Records.
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