Immolation - Majesty and Decay
Nuclear Blast
Death Metal
12 songs (45:03)
Release year: 2010
Immolation, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Charles
Album of the month
Immolation is one of those bands that took me a while to understand. Like with their close musical brethren, Suffocation, they don’t have the melodic sweeteners that make more lightweight death metal acts immediately digestible, and they don’t have the same urgent, stamping rhythmic hooks that made Decapitated the first extreme metal band I could really dig. Despite getting the “brutal” tag, they are subtler and cleverer than most bands operating in either of those categories, because they challenge you far more. Their songs crash from one contorted, slathering idea to another like a wild animal, and instead of headbanging or singing along, you just have to lose yourself in the ferocity of it all. Being behind the times, it wasn’t until I heard the titanic Shadows in the Light of 2007 that I realised how important the band is. It is an unvarnished, untamed rush of baleful energy, constructed out of ideas that are ever-shifting, unpredictable, and complex. Instead of being a procession of riffs that can be kick started and stopped, this band plays intuitively and fluidly, creating real death metal art that feels like it is alive and breathing rather than a mechanical composition.

So because what Immolation does is so good, this is one of those rare occasions where “more of the same” can be typed without rolled eyes or a jaded sigh. It sounds magnificent; the churning rhythm section rumbles like a vast swarm of 12 foot bees, and the lead guitar lines, that are frequently held back for long periods, screech across this sound like a ragged blaze of blinding light momentarily expelling the ominous darkness. Because the grooves here are never simple, and are always surrounded by chaotic detours into growling noise, they have a lunatic quality that makes them all the more sinister and mesmerising. Like on A Token of Malice, where the urgent lead guitar patterns aren’t just sitting on top of the underlying anarchy, but actually feel like they are grabbing it, and wrenching it out of the gurgling death metal morass to become beautifully mis-shapen riffs.

The problem with their approach is potentially its lack of focus; even the most sympathetic to this type of music could be worn down by their relentless assault, especially given that it’s been carried on over several albums now. There is little to break the flow here, and very few breathers except short atmosphere-building interludes. This said, tracks like A Glorious Epoch show that structured arrangements are not something that can’t work in this seemingly anarchic setting. It opens with the most intimidatingly slow, grinding riff that makes your average sludge band sound like Dragonforce, and is a lesson in how to trudge grimly and purposefully through a chain of ideas without sounding disconnected. Listening to it, you really feel like you want to take back all those times you have referred to something as “heavy” in the past.

This really is compulsory death metal. It is challenging and expressive in a way that most bands cannot dream of and it has an oppressive, unruly edge that brings it close to glorious pure noise at times. Devastating.

Killing Songs :
A Token of Malice, A Glorious Epoch
Charles quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Immolation that we have reviewed:
Immolation - Atonement reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Immolation - Kingdom of Conspiracy reviewed by Jared and quoted 82 / 100
Immolation - Close To A World Below reviewed by Dylan and quoted 89 / 100
Immolation - Shadows in the Light reviewed by Alex and quoted 93 / 100
Immolation - Harnessing Ruin reviewed by Alex and quoted 81 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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