Immolation – “Atonement” (Nuclear Blast)
One of death metal’s greatest, Immolation have stood the test of time since their inception in 1988, releasing a respectable 9 albums throughout their career. Often credited with laying the musical blueprints for later bands like Cryptopsy and Suffocation, these veterans continue to show their measure on the astounding “Atonement”. Still with founder bassist / vocalist Ross Dolan and legendary guitarist Robert Vigna, this 10th album does what few death metal releases manage to do – evoke a truly enshrouding atmosphere that is long felt after the music has ended. Considering this isn’t even a concept album, that makes it all the more remarkable! Truly reflective of its album cover, “Atonement” is dark, apocalyptic metal on a grand scale that even the gods themselves would fear. Beyond the death, there is an element of blackness present that really makes the difference, drawing you in as the masterful arrangements and musicianship – not in the least the blinding neo classical guitar work of Vigna and Alex Bouks – conspire to create cataclysmic epics such as ‘Epiphany’, ‘Above All’ and ‘Thrown To The Fire’, reeking of grinding brutality, yet also memorable melodies and catchy grooves. Considering Immolation don’t rely on any orchestrals or keyboards to evoke their fearful presence is a definite credit to their musicianship and song writing. Most of all though, its their tightness as a band that pulls it off, be it in Dolan’s bestial growls or Steve Shalaty’s brutal drum technicality! Whether in blinding speed, mid temp menace or slow-ish scything, the magnificence of Immolation’s malevolence cannot be understated here on what must be one of the best death metal albums of the year just as we begin it!