When entering the vast landscape of Metal, there are many attacks one encounters: sharp visceral spearings, swift blasting lacerations, and suffocating slow crushes. With IMMOLATION, one of the original NY Death Metal outfits, you get a unique swath of strangulation coupled with a rumbling, steamrolling bashing...never too slow, never too hasty, and compounded with oblique punches and snaps of tight whippings.
With "Majesty And Decay", their eighth studio album, IMMOLATION have again presented us DM fans with a stellar cutlet of brutal yet nuanced extremity courtesy of all the murderous players involved. As always, Ross Dolan's bass thunders across every track, shifting the very foundations of each song and pounding out a solid thrust which never ceases. But just as important are Dolan's monstrous vocals which spread their reek of asphyxiating demise again on “Majesty And Decay”. Somehow among the countless Death growls out in extreme land, Dolan manages to separate himself with a vocal bludgeoning that blankets all in its path. Dolan's vocals alone, with no accompaniment, would be enough to give those of religious persuasion an immediate stroke.
The sonic marauders around Dolan play just as vital a role as well. Drummer Steve Shalaty is an overlooked percussionist whose timing and tempo shifts move and surge the band's menacing trundle forward. His fills seem just right and never performed for the sake of themselves. The conjunction of this heaving pound of drums with Dolan’s consuming bass creates such a swelling behemoth it allows the guitars to stray and give IMMOLATION their breathing space. This depth and breathing that infuses “Majesty And Decay” is the axe work of the ever solid Bill Taylor and the dynamic graft by Robert Vigna. The squeals and tangents of Vigna’s ubiquitous signature style expand the band's horizons beyond many contemporaries simple brutality. Pinch harmonics feel organic and never forced; and Vigna has a way of serrating through chords with a sway that comes as close to a crushing groove as you could imagine. It’s hard not to let his onstage demeanor influence such an opinion as he plays his blend of crush and obtuseness while swaying his guitar around; but it is a perfect physical manifestation of his personal style.
Throughout “Majesty And Decay” all these elements come together to fuse a record of quite epic proportions, which is not terribly unusual for IMMOLATION, even if some foolishly underrated their previous effort “Shadows In The light”. To open with, after a somber intro (conveniently titled “Intro”) the band’s swelling power and force is perfectly displayed in “The Purge”, a track of weight that displays no change to IMMOLATION’s record of simply punishing the listener with brute beauty. Onwards from there are all the noted aspects of this fantastic band’s fare. These Death Metal stalwarts show on the title track their seeming innate ability to swerve gloriously through moments of stunning violence supplemented with tempo shifts that feel pure, and again allow both guitarists to shoot off on paths that expand what one comes to think of as br00tal. There is no better example of this than the true majesty (no pun intended) of “A Glorious Epic”, simply one of the best songs recorded this year. Beginning the song with a slow-picked ominous few seconds, the band then surges with a confluence of ripping chords and slashing riffs that flow to the side during mood changes, Dolan on the very top of his already elevated form, and Shalaty driving the whole thing through all its many tempos. Present as always is that dark, ill-omened atmosphere that has pervaded so much of IMMOLATION’s work, but especially their recent outings. Tremendous as always…don’t miss out on hearing this.
(Online October 7, 2010)