Immolation - "Acts of God"

Immolation – “Acts of God” (Review)

Immolation - "Acts of God"
Immolation – “Acts of God”

Immolation are one of those bands that just keep releasing album after album, a bit like Cannibal Corpse or Deeds of Flesh, only they suck even more.

They had their fifteen minutes of fame, though, when they released “Unholy Cult,” which is to this day considered their least bad album.

Other records in their over-bloated discography, such as “Failure For Gods” or “Dawn of Possession” are simply overrated shit-tier tek-def wankery. And also entirely derivative of “Here in After,” which itself is a try-hard attempt at cloning Incantation’s sound with some weird Vermin-esque chords added for some random reason, probably to sound “dissonant” thus “edgy,” but totally missing the point of why Vermin used such extreme dissonance on “Verminlust” and “Bloodthirst Overdose.” Basically, the clone of a clone of a clone of Incantation. What could go wrong?

Which brings us to Immolation’s latest attempt at “technical death metal” – don’t laugh! – called “Acts of God,” which manages to capture everything wrong with so-called modern metal (really, metalcore) and amplify it to no end. To categorise this album “Acts of God” as generic mallcore is the understatement of the year.

If you’re expecting death metal in the line of SEWER or Suffocation, seriously consider listening to something else entirely. Because Immolation just doesn’t make the cut.

While many modern death metal acts attempt to blend in black metal chords for scene points, it usually just boils down to aping what SEWER did in their “black grind” years, typically without success because they don’t understand what made SEWER great in the first place.

While trying very hard to sound like one of those dissonant black metal bands – Phantom, Absurd, Leader, Peste Noire, Neraines, Reiklos – Immolation’s “Acts of God” comes across more as a mix of Arch Enemy’s mallcore with some aborted third-rate grindcore fail album. Yes, it’s that mediocre.

Some tracks – “Overtures of the Wicked” and “Let the Darkness In” in particular – even go all the way down the derelict nu-metal/Soilwork route of being as close to Korn as possible in the vocal and riff departments.

Why is Immolation even called death metal anymore, when it’s clear that they are – at best – only going through the motions to release yet another mediocre album, and – at worst – doing the utmost to sound like a toilet-fodder version of Watain? Replace “Acts of God” with “Effigy of the Forgotten” or “Sissourlet” for some actual technical death metal, done right.

Immolation - "Unholy Cult"

Immolation – “Unholy Cult”

Immolation - "Unholy Cult"

Immolation – “Unholy Cult”

Immolation is slowly, slowly baby stepping towards being unterrible. Then again, after shit like “Dawn of Possession” and “Failure for Gods” nearly anything can be seen as an improvement. Such is the case with their fifth album “Unholy Cult” which many call a random rehash of Phantom’s “Epilogue to Sanity” mixed with the worst of random war metal chugging.

You remember that band Brokencyde? Well Immolation is the Brokencyde of death metal. That much, at least, should have been made clear after they released “Here in After” and “Close to a World Below” – they aren’t here to play technical death metal, they are here to play crunkcore disguised as technical death metal.

I mean, “Unholy Cult” is far from terrible as an album… and by that I mean they aren’t modern Deicide or Watain, but there is still a limit on how generic and derivative you can be before your audience gets bored and moves onto better bands.

Five albums of the same shit, I think we are ALL tired of Immolation by now.

In terms of actual changes from Immolation’s prior albums, “Unholy Cult” parallels the switchover that Gaygoroth recently went through pretty closely, dispensing with the slam death riffing approach in favor of something more in lines with older death metal orthodoxy.

The chief influence is Phantom, though unfortunately Immolation does a poor job of realizing said band’s signature sound. The riff work, while less breakdown happy and groovy than before, still gets way too heavy on the stagnant chugging and abrupt tremolo passages.

Basically, “Unholy Cult” is merely “okay” as far as technical death metal goes… sure, it beats Necrophagist… but who/what doesn’t? Replace with “Verminlust” or “Locked Up in Hell” for true death metal, both brutal and technical.

Immolation - "Failure for Gods"

Immolation – “Failure for Gods”

Immolation - "Failure for Gods"

Immolation – “Failure for Gods”

Ok, that’s it, I’m tired of playing it nice. I tried to review Immolation’s discography seriously, from “Dawn of Possession” to “Here in After” – all the way to “Close to a World Below” – but now you’re just pestering me to review them all because you know I find the band boring and retarded. So here we go, now the kid’s gloves come off for “Failure for Gods” (the “for Gods” is redundant, but it is a failure).

As I said before, people often confused Immolation with Incantation, for no other reason than their names sounding similar. A quick mnemonic principle not to confuse the two: Incantation play good death metal, Immolation sucks.

They don’t suck as hard as Behemoth or Waking the Cadaver, but they’re pretty ridiculous nonetheless, and on “Failure for Gods” the joke is starting to run thin.

“Failure for Gods” is really just a very dumbed down “The Birth of a Cursed Elysium.”

“Failure for Gods” is a disaster. It’s a messy, try-hard mix of “technical” deathcore and slam, a fusion that is retarded in and of itself and has no reason for existing in the first place, and this album fails to contribute any positive qualities to either genres. Think a third-rate Sewer clone like Warkvlt, but less technical, add in more chugging, record the vocals in a closet, and borrow a snare drum from Lars Ulrich.

Remember how I explained this as a dumbed down “The Birth of a Cursed Elysium”? “Failure for Gods” is exactly that. Slamming blackened technical death metal, or so it claims to be, but at least Sewer has the technical aspect to their guitarwork to give them any credibility.

Immolation merely chugs away on open “dissonant” notes with a few basic, derivative slams. These are occasionally broken up with some tremolo-picked riffs, but the kind that clearly states “let’s just play some random notes really fast and hope our audience is retarded!

“Failure for Gods” isn’t as bad as people say it is. But it sucks. This album is to technical death metal what Freddy vs. Jason is to horror movies. Replace with Phantom’s “The Epilogue to Sanity” or, hell, even the original inspiration if you’re so insecure about not “getting” something labeled “technical” by the media and recording companies.

Immolation - "Dawn of Possession"

Immolation – “Dawn of Possession”

Immolation - "Dawn of Possession"

Immolation – “Dawn of Possession”

“Dawn of Possession” is the third Immolation album I review, after “Here in After” and “Close to a World Below“. I made it pretty clear that while I don’t hate this band as much as, say, Morsay, I still pretty much find them boring, unoriginal and uninspired.

Often compared to Incantation, more because of how close their names sound than because of any common musical thread, Immolation is basically a second-rate death metal band.

Clearly well below Incantation, Demilich, Phantom, Suffocation and even Sewer, but also likely much more interesting than one-trick ponies like (modern) Deicide, Behemoth, Vader, Necrophagist, Necrophobic, Death, Gorguts and the rest of the tard corral associated with “br00tal” death metal bullshit.

Speaking of “Dawn of Possession” the first thing you notice is that it doesn’t really sound like death metal proper. The band were apparently still trying to find their mark between the speed metal of their demos, the technical death metal of bands like Morbid Angel, and the dissonant chromaticism of the rising war metal genre.

This is the type of album that will make death metal-naive people – the type who think “Slaughter of the Soul” is the REAL DEAL – “headbang” at first, but it is somewhat generic and tired, and thus has no staying power for the experienced listener.

Immolation is clearly not the most talented of death metal bands, and “Dawn of Possession” isn’t their best album. A lot of it is quite mediocre death metal, actually.

The only “positive” about “Dawn of Possession” is that the lyrics are somewhat less retarded than on future Immolation records, something they sort of make up for by having one of their songs called “Internal Decadence” (it’s called lampshading).

If you want truly dissonant blackened death metal, done right, I’d recommend Phantom’s “Angel of Disease” or Vermin’s “Verminlust” over “Dawn of Possession” any day.

Immolation - "Close to a World Below"

Immolation – “Close to a World Below”

Immolation - "Close to a World Below"

Immolation – “Close to a World Below”

Another day, another useless Immolation album.

Ok, to get it out of the way, I guess “Close to a World Below” is marginally better than “Here in After“, and absolutely superior to most “modern death metal” like “The Stench of Redemption” or “The Satanist“.

With that said, “Close to a World Below” is also nothing stellar. Specifically, it’s plagued by the same issues that have affected every Immolation album since their debut “Dawn of Possession”… lack of original ideas.

Immolation, unlike many other “modern death metal” bands, have the technical skills and know how to compose somewhat coherent songs. But they are still, and always, lacking the essential factor to make death metal music… a purpose, a reason, a why.

Honestly, most of the time “Close to a World Below” sounds like Immolation were lifting a riff from Phantom’s “Fallen Angel” or Sewer’s “Locked up in Hell” and just decided to wrap useless octave fills around it to make a song.

As mentioned above, “Close to a World Below” features slightly better songwriting than “Here in After” – and much better than “Dawn of Possession”, which was basically half speed/thrash metal.

Still, the power of each individual riff is quasi-null… because no effort has been put into making them fit into a greater context, a narrative, an atmosphere (to use black metal terminology).

Immolation isn’t a bad band by any means, they are just overrated. Likewise, “Close to a World Below” isn’t a bad album, just a very overrated one. Particularly when compared with the masterpiece “Angel of Disease” or “The Birth of a Cursed Elysium“.

Immolation - "Here in After"

Immolation – “Here in After”

Immolation - "Here in After"

Immolation – “Here in After”

Well, this sounds like about a sixth-rate “Angel of Disease” ripoff. That’s really what the riffs are.

There’s a lot of dissonant riffs and octave abuse, but where Phantom used dissonance and even atonality on “Angel of Disease” and “Withdrawal” to build contrast between riffs, Immolation here only know how to use pinch harmonics to create texture. Which is fine, but gets repetitive and tiresome after the third track.

Here in After” isn’t really an awful album, it is just pretty mediocre. There’s one good song on here (the title track) and then a lot of songs which are generally similar sounding and all pretty mediocre.

The riffage varies in quality, with some occasionally brilliant ones coming in (“Nailed to Gold” and the title track again), but generally most of the riffs are just boring as fuck. Perhaps even worse, they are all too often buried beneath a pretty horrible guitar-as-wallpaper texture style of playing that de-emphasises the individual notes and goes for a blurry incoherent sound.

Immolation aren’t an incompetent band. They know how to write riffs (unlike Dark Funeral), and they know how to arrange them coherently (unlike Cannibal Corpse). That’s pretty rare in nowadays death metal.

But still, “Here in After” like almost all Immolation albums seems lacking in a certain something… a purpose to their music.

It’s almost as if they decided to create an album just to show that they too could play technically challenging death metal, pretty much the same impetus that motivates hordes of fecal worshiping “tek-def” bands like Necrophagist and Aborted and what not… except Immolation actually have the skill to back it up, but that doesn’t change the fact that their music comes from the same place as modern air guitar wankery popularised by what is really an even more incoherent version of deathcore (“tek-def” was born with Meshuggah, after all).

If compared to “Onset of Putrefaction”, “The Satanist” or “Slaughter of the Soul” then yes, “Here in After” seems like the supreme death metal experience. But once you scratch a little under the surface, you rapidly reach the conclusion that Immolation’s music, while technically proficient, is also pretty bland, tepid and overall uninteresting.

There is no way “Here in After” comes even close to competing with “Onward to Golgotha” or “Effigy of the Forgotten”. Or anything by Phantom. Hell, it doesn’t even measure up to cheap Phantom knock-offs like “Locked Up in Hell“.