Review Summary: An EP that proves Immolation are still, after 20 years, at the top of their game
Don’t tell Rob Vigna and Ross Dolan that 2011 marks 20 years since Immolation’s debut album Dawn of Possession
, because they may not fully realize it yet. One listen to Providence
and it is apparent that Immolation are as strong as ever, both in terms of songwriting power and sheer influence – the seat atop the throne of the New York death metal scene has been dominated by them for the past two decades. It’s not hard to see why, either: thunderous riffing, bellowing vocals, devastating atmosphere all clashing together with the sort of force usually reserved for plate tectonics. Last year’s LP Majesty and Decay
proved that they still have a penchant for their craft, and this has not waned since then. Providence
is a spiritual continuation of what was displayed on Majesty and Decay
, and given the quality of that record it is not surprising to find that Providence
is no slacker in delivering the goods.
Vigna and fellow guitarist Bill Taylor put on a clinic in death metal guitar, and still stand as two of the only people in metal who seem to understand how to use pinch harmonics effectively in a riff. They work them in naturally throughout the album's riffs, accenting both the more meandering numbers and visceral licks instead of throwing them in as ear candy. The constant, screeching wails of the pinch harmonics provide a contrast to the chords that wade underneath alongside the plucking of the bass, and atop this foundation lies the sepulchral vocals and the bombastic drumming that is effectively placed high in the mix to showcase the wonderful talent of Steve Shalaty behind the kit, who doesn’t seem to take a break through the entire EP. The double bass is constant behind the guitar solo of “Swallow the Fear”, and the fills ooze complexity throughout “Still Lost”. There is nothing disjointed or broken about the songwriting, and each of the five tracks carry the same aura but divide themselves clearly, from the visceral opener “What They Bring” to the lumbering conclusion “Swallow the Fear”.
It is easy to say that Providence
doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but those who are familiar with Immolation will realize that such a criticism is irrefutably shallow. Immolation aren’t here to wow the crowd with something new, and that is the beauty of it – they are here to kick you in the balls with classic, no-frills New York death metal, and on Providence
they do just that. It’s only an EP, but it is indicative of the momentum Immolation still have going for them. As soon as the first twisting riff hits your ears and you get a taste of the deep growls, you won’t know what the word “change” even means.