Release Date: Feb 24, 2017
Record label: Nuclear Blast
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
For many old-school metal bands still around these days, progressing their sound is a double-edged sword: if they change too much, they'll lose their core following; if they stay exactly the same, they'll become stagnant and boring. New York death metal pioneers Immolation have mastered this balancing act though, as each of their new releases has maintained the identity they started out with in 1988, but also incorporated something new and fresh to the mix. That's the case with their latest offering, Atonement, which marks their tenth album in a consistent, flawless catalogue that spans nearly three decades.
In the early '90s, death metal luminaries like Death's Chuck Schuldiner and Morbid Angel's Trey Azagthoth introduced technicality to the raw, guttural template they'd pioneered a few years earlier. At that point, death metal became a haven for artists who not only placed a high premium on chops but also thought of themselves as capital-C composers. ( Gorguts bandleader Luc Lemay, for example, actually took private lessons in composition from a nun.) But over the genre's 30-year creep from the fringes to respectability, we still don't think of it as a songwriter's artform.
"Not even God can save you now!" An all-too-familiar-sounding guitar motif slithers into earshot, exposed but not alone. Before you have a chance to infer its purpose, it's joined by a sonic armada - one that is instantly overwhelming and unceasing in its hostility. Chaos gives way to order as everything settles into a steady groove, then it all reverts to chaos, then back to order, alternating between the two states in an irregular yet calculated manner.