Picture of Immolation

Dawn of Possession

Immolation - Dawn of Possession ©1991 Roadrunner
1. Into Everlasting Fire
2. Despondent Souls
3. Dawn Of Possession
4. Those Left Behind
5. Internal Decadence
6. No Forgiveness (Without Bloodshed)
7. Burial Ground
8. After My Prayers
9. Fall In Disease
10. Immolation

There's a fairly good chance that anybody who is familiar with death metal will already be acquainted with Immolation. But for the uninitiated, Immolation are long-running stalwarts of New York's extreme metal scene. Boasting flowing, dissonantly layered riffs with a tyrannical low end, hell-pit fire belch vocals, and a slightly more than casual interest in all things evil, violent, and satanic in the lyrical department, they were and remain one of the key players in defining the sound of New York Death Metal, landing somewhere in between the mildly retarded drum machine-driven devolution of northern horror hicks Mortician, and the spatter saw blade precision of Suffocation in terms of technicality. Led by registered truck driver/bassist/vocalist Ross Dolan and registered bald man with a goatee/guitarist Bob Vigna, the band has seen most of what there is to see in the history of death metal: classic early albums, tours across the country, larger audiences, record label drops, smaller audiences, periods of speculative inactivity, and triumphant returns. Through it all, the band has stayed true to their vision of dark, gruff, chugging death metal, and thanks to incorporating subtle twists and tweaks in their sound throughout their career, have avoided stalling out in stagnation. As such, they now enjoy fairly wide-ranging popularity and reverence amongst death metal fans today, and are generally noted as one of the few old school acts that has managed to "keep it real" while still remaining relevant.

Dawn Of Possession is Immolation's first, and for many, best loved album. Monolithically ugly and disharmonic to the point of being nearly cathartic, the album spews hell straight from the get-go with "Into Everlasting Fire", and proceeds not to let up for a single moment for the remaining thirty five or so minutes. No corny keyboard intros, no classical interludes, no groovy melodic breaks – nothing but positively vicious, evil, propane-tank heavy death metal from beginning to end. Well, alright, there's a whooshing sound that starts off "Burial Ground", but it only goes for about two seconds, so who's to quibble about that? Immolation's singularity of purpose on this album is impressive, and the music is quite well-written at that. The songwriting features all the general hallmarks typical of most death metal, in that the songs each feature a bunch of different parts of varying tempos, little in terms of conventional tunefulness, and heaping portions of Satan. Yet in the flowing, enveloping riffs which have become Immolation's trademark sound, they have also managed to chisel out a style which they can proudly call their own – one which is as dark and atmospheric as black metal, but also mean and heavy, as all good death metal should be. And sure, after a while, this approach lends itself to certain degree of sameyness, but to grumble about that with regards to a brutal death metal album would be like complaining about how ice cream is too cold. Whether music or ice cream: just shove it into your ear and enjoy it!

Although Dawn Of Possession isn't going to cause anybody to rethink their notions of what old school death metal sounds like, it is a very strong album, and is highly recommended for anybody who considers themselves a fan that gruff, super heavy New York Death Metal sound. In fact, this recording is so strong that it compelled Mick Thomson, Slipknot's lead guitarist, to actually get the image of a demon raping an angel ripped straight from this album's artwork tattooed right onto his shoulder! Now granted, I think you'd have to be somewhere between moronic and vile to have an image of anything raping anything inked onto your body, but that's beside the point. After all, it's not like you see anyone walking around sporting that antler guy from Suffocation's Human Waste EP grafted onto their midriff…although granted, that would be pretty sweet if you did. My point, obviously, is that you should buy this album.

Review by Hunter Brawer

Review date: 11/2010

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Unholy Cult

Immolation - Unholy Cult ©2002 Olympic
1. Of Martyrs And Men
2. Sinful Nature
3. Unholy Cult
4. Wolf Among The Flock
5. Reluctant Messiah
6. A Kingdom Divided
7. Rival The Eminent
8. Bring Them Down

Awaiting a new album from one of your favorite bands can be an unnerving affair. How on earth are they going to keep up to the standard of the previous albums? Have they made some badly advised stylistic changes? Can they... Could they? Is it possible... Is there some way they can get better? A titillating prospect, for sure, and I'll be damned if Immolation haven't done just that. Come to think of it, the fact that I listen to Immolation probably is enough to damn me, as these men aren't exactly the kind who want you to read the Watchtower Bible, at least not without a broad, mocking grin on your face.

Immolation have kept their style of truly vicious, dark death metal intact and are still basing their songs on killer, mean-sounding riffs. They throw in some amazingly effective guitar solos, something that isn't exactly a trend in this genre, and keep on honing their already impressive songwriting skills. Expect discordance, dissonance, yet catchiness and even atmosphere. Immolation haven't gone completely mad like Gorguts, but manage to keep a certain openness to their sound that I think might even attract people who generally aren't fans of the genre, while also forcing death metal fans to put on bibs before pressing "play".

There aren't any big differences from Immolation's previous album Close To A World Below, but the band have added a few repeating sections, marches if you will, which really opens up their songs. And don't mistake these repetitive sections for laziness and lack of ideas, as they're rather there to enhance the strengths of the rest of the songs, bringing to mind a horde stomping their way through the fields to hunt down anyone who harbors even the slightest hint of respect for Jehovah. The lyrics here are pure antichristian ballyhoo, but are surprisingly effective for what they are, especially when taken in the context of what is happening in the music.

It's interesting to see how good this band has managed to become, despite never being the weirdest, the most technical, the most brutal, or the fastest death metal band. I am however tempted to say that they've got more taste than anyone else in the field, though it's admittedly a genre where subtlety isn't generally a sought-after trait.

It's seldom you hear an album where everything comes together so well, and while bands like Harakiri and Cephalic Carnage have already made this a great year for death metal, I dare say Immolation have released the death metal album of 2002.

Review by Øystein H-O

Review date: 12/2002

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