Underneath the surface, Immolation’s newest album Majesty And Decay
is a well-oiled machine; it works immeasurably hard to keep things going off without a hitch, with songwriting, production and musicianship working in unison to craft something which, on the outside, seems effortless and natural. The album is dynamic and fluid, taking moments of intense riffing and thunderous vocals and pairing them next to times when a slow, plodding riff rumbles along sweeping away anything in its path. Indeed, the songwriting which made Close To A World Below
so memorable has returned in fine form, laying out a dozen tracks which are, cliché to say, all killer and no filler.
The huge amount of variance to the album constantly keeps things interesting, as technical riffs weave in and out of different time signatures and throw around pinch harmonics like they’re going out of style. The abundant, shredding guitar solos lay waste to the bombastic chords of songs like “Divine Code”, but often work alongside them to keep the pace constantly shifting from the likes of heavy, down-tuned chord progressions to tremolo picked verse riffs to technical but slow-paced bridges and all-out chaotic choruses. Complimenting the array of guitar compositions is the daunting battery which is laid down by the drumming of Steve Shalaty, who keeps the beat through the pummels of his double bass and tight, precise fills which do not go unnoticed. The desperate screams during the verses of “The Purge” show a sense of hurried chaos, while the vocals on the monolithic beast that is “A Glorious Epoch” take on a more drawn-out, deep character which complements the instruments with perfection.
The pace of the slower, more deliberate songs like “The Rapture Of Ghosts” and “A Glorious Epoch” really help contrast the brutality of “The Purge”, “A Token Of Malice” and “Power And Shame”. The album uses both of these structures: short, quick songs and longer, slower songs, to showcase their all-business approach to their style of death metal. However, Immolation has a knack on Majesty And Decay
to inject quite a bit of individuality into the music. The riffs are often composed so that they have a memorable hook which burns them into your mind, a technique which helps keep everything fresh and avoids the folly of re-hashing riff after riff. The fact that there is no filler on the album is a direct result of the constant variety of different songwriting approaches displayed here.
The fire that Immolation had with Close To A World Below
and Dawn Of Possession
is certainly alive and well with Majesty And Decay
, an album which is so well executed it immediately deserves a spot on the top death metal albums of 2010, a status I’m sure it will keep as the year progresses. Everything about this record is fantastically written and performed, from the vocals to the guitars to the drums. This album demands your full attention and, I can assure you, it will hold it for quite a while. Majesty And Decay
shows how death metal should be done, and how Immolation still, after all these years, are at the top of their game.