Let’s face it, Death Metal bands we hear today wouldn’t be the same without the influence from New York death metal giants IMMOLATION. Dawn of Possession, Here in After, and Failures for Gods started the band’s reign, helping reshape and define the sub genre and they continue to surpass all expectations almost thirty years later. Their overall tenth studio album Atonement out February 24 via Nuclear Blast has arrived, continuing to hold their dominating placement. Despite lineup changes over the years, including the latest welcoming guitarist Alex Bouks who replaced long-timer Bill Taylor, we must admit, Ross Dolan (bass/vocals) and Robert Vigna (guitar) are IMMOLATION’S consistent voice.
With that said, complacency in their albums does not exist. They fearlessly explore darker approaches and after five listens of Atonement, you will discover its menacing brilliance. For instance, look at the apocalyptic artwork created by Pär Olofsson, featuring a disfigured Angel of Death flying amongst the ruins in the world. The album’s design sets the atmosphere, placing a realistic landscape on our contemporary ruin humanity is facing. Musically, humanity’s current corruption is drawn with the enhanced bass rumbles, sinister guitar riffs, and brutal growls.
The album aggressively begins with “The Distorting Light,” a song that explores different perceptions people have on the world. For example, our reality becomes delusionally conflicted due to public depictions such as what we hear on Fox news vs MSNBC. These altered views change perceptions, making one question reality. It’s not easy examining this dark subject, however, IMMOLATION defines it with brutal assaults consisting with vehement beats, rumbles and elongated guitar riffs.
Darkness continues with “When The Jackals Come,” a song based off of the book Confessions of an Economic Hitman. Listening to it closely, you hear the international corruption and it pairs well with those of our present day. The foreboding brilliance continues with “Fostering the Divide,” and ironically, it illustrates our now divided America. A powerful tune, sampling present day hatred and disparate viewpoints with crushing instrumentation. The album progresses with chaotic riffery during songs “Rise the Heretics” and “Thrown to the Fire,” building towards the portentous ruin theme which we hear in “Destructive Currents.”
The record continues to demonstrate our realistic disasters through growls, snare, and mesmerizing demonic riffs making “Currents” the overall vicious tone-setter. As we pass the halfway mark, the melody slows down with “Lower.” Obviously, slowness doesn’t last long as the intensity grows with malicious instrumentation leading us to title track “Atonement.” A blasphemous sound continues while we hear symbolic examples of rivalry, divisions, and distorted confusions.
Towards the end of the disc, we hear a few melodic repetitions. When comparing these to our reality, you realize repeating disturbing truths can help send a message across. That is how Atonement concludes during “Above All,” “The Power of Gods,” and “Epiphany.” Atonement is filled with multi-layered brilliance and each listen draws you into a new chaotic discovery. Brace yourself, it’s sinister and will blow your eardrums exploiting realistic downfalls.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “The Distorting Light”, “Fostering the Divide”, “Destructive Currents”