When it comes to death metal, I tend to lean towards the more traditional or old school approach. Too brutal or too technical and something gets lost. Crushing riffs, great solos, and evil as fuck low growls…that’s what I love about death metal. Immolation was part of the early days of death metal and their debut, 1991’s Dawn of Possession, is still one of my favorite albums of the genre. They’ve consistently churned out albums over the years ranging from good to great but their tenth full length, Atonement, is the band showing the world that they are still relevant to the genre.
What I like most of all is that this album has an overall dark atmosphere. The riffing and tempo of some songs remind me of doom metal while others are blasters but the feeling of the album as a whole is the same. The album opener, “The Distorting Light” opens with this eerie dark riff leading to a rather chaotic few seconds but the riffs are brilliant and the solos are really good. Halfway through the song is some cool doom riffing before another amazing solo. I will say it took me a bit to warm up to this song because it is all over the place but it’s still a great song. “When the Jackals Come” is more straight ahead moving between blasts and mid paced but this song has a lot of serious riffs. It’s one of the best songs on the album for sure.
“Thrown to the Fire” is one of those examples of the eerie doom feeling that this album has. The riffs are slow and crushing and even where it picks up in tempo it still feels dark and gloomy. The solo midway through is godly. The guitar tone on the solos is perfect and adds to the atmosphere of each song. The production of the album is really good. The sound is not over polished but is clean and mixed well. There’s a few spots where the vocals seem drowned out but for the most part this album has a great sound. I think my favorite track on this album is “Above All.” This song just crushes from beginning to end. The massive riffs combined with the precision time changes and killer solos makes this a great song. And the two songs that come after it, “The Power of Gods” and “Epiphany,” are some of the best songs this band has written in years.
I admit that I have not followed this band’s career very closely after the first two and I have Kingdom of Conspiracy but rarely listen to it. But this album blew me away from beginning to end…even the re-recording of “Immolation” from the debut. This band has had a pretty good career but making a death metal album this good at this stage of the game is quite impressive. This band still has plenty to say.