Wednesday, June 27, 2007

IMMOLATION: (2002) Unholy Cult

The fifth album from New York's death metal legend's Immolation who have released albums for both Roadrunner and Metal Blade Records over their decade plus career. Century Media. 2002. Death metal, as a genre, is often criticized (with some merit) as lacking in creativity and new ideas. Fortunately, there are still bands like Immolation around to prove that every rule has its exceptions. The mighty Suffocation may have broken up years before I got to hear them (although they're apparently back together and working on a new album), but Immolation are still carrying on with an excellent approximation of Suffo's sound. "Unholy Cult," their latest album, is filled with complex rhythms and jarring time changes that elevate Immolation way above the death metal pack. Their influences clearly go beyond those typical of their genre, even showing a trace of the mathematical precision of Meshuggah. And since I consider to be Meshuggah the best band working right now, that's a good thing. Leading the way is Ross Dolan, who like Suffocation's Frank Mullen manages to achieve an extremely guttural tone without sacrificing clarity. If you don't like death vocals Ross probably won't change your mind, but there's no denying that he's good at what he does. Bill Taylor and Robert Vigna are a fairly standard guitar duo, but like Ross they're more than sufficient. However, the real standout in this band is clearly rock-solid drummer Alex Hernandez, whose combination of precision and variety does more than anything else to distinguish Immolation from their peers. Like all the best extreme metal drummers, Alex plays some excellent, well-timed blastbeats without overdoing it. The lyrics are a nice change of pace as well, going beyond the cut-rate blasphemy too often heard in the genre for more of a personal/social feel. If any one song here stands out it would have to be the title track, which deals out a stunning amount of punishment during its seven-minute running time. Like many otherwise excellent death metal albums, "Unholy Cult" does suffer a bit from repetitiveness (suffice to say Ross doesn't demonstrate a great deal of vocal range), but it's nowhere near as monotonous as a lot of what I've heard in the genre. Besides, when the results are this uniformly great, a bit of repetition isn't such a bad thing.

pass = hmbreed

D-load album :-)
D-load album :-)

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