Review Summary: An incredibly blasphemous rout of nothing more than death metal at its absolute finest
Immolation are a band whose technical prowess is only matched by their ability to create an intense and harrowing musical experience. They possess an immense level of musical depth that allows them to create what are widely considered to be masterpieces of the genre; masterpieces that have etched them their place in the death metal hall of fame. Of their extensive discography, several are thought to stand out the most, with "Here In After" and "Close To A World Below" frequently being cited as their finest works. Albums such as the latter of these are ones that showcase nothing more than the absolute best that the band could create.
"Close To A World Below" opens up with a mass of sounds that serve as an eerie build up before the first words of the album are spoken : "Didn't you say Jesus was coming?" From here on out it is nothing more than business as usual for Immolation as the album morphs into an ever flowing stream of nothing short of some of the finest death metal music out there. Quick frenzies of power chords mixed densely into a seemingly never ending flow of lightning fast, immensely creative beats are the main course of Immolation's 2000 offering. This is also an album with a lot of variety to it that keeps every song feeling fresh and interesting. Whilst tracks such as "Higher Coward" and "Furthest From The Truth" primarily remain in the region of moving at a million miles per hour, the band does not shy away from slowing down a little, which reaches its pinnacle on the monstrous closing track. This song is the eight minute title track to the album and it makes great use of many creepy sounding slower sections such as the introduction, where the cymbals are left to ring out whilst Robert Vigna and Tom Wilkinson play some high pitched tremolo picked lines. The effect that this has is overwhelming: think of the most atmospheric piece of death metal you can, and then cast that aside.
One thing that Immolation did even better than ever before on "Close To A World Below" is the evolution of their songs. Whilst they are rightfully recognized as being fantastic, tracks such as "Nailed To Gold" were slightly predictable to say the least, but that is not the case on here. Instead, the changes in speed come out of nowhere and hit you right where it hurts. The guitars meander around, constantly evolving and changing riff to create one of the most interesting slabs of death metal you are likely to hear. "Lost Passion" is a fantastic example of how the band has grown, shifting tempo constantly and frequently adjusting the nature of the guitar work to include pinched harmonics, tremolo picking and power chords in ways that even Cryptopsy could not dream of. The drumming on this song is also some of the best on this release. It includes a lot of double bass work and also a quite ridiculous section at around three minutes and twenty sections showing off the improved level of technicality on here. The vocals are as demonic as ever before; Ross Dolan sounds like an absolute monster on here. His voice is one of the most sinister and malevolent in all of death metal and he is arguably at his pinnacle on "Close To A World Below".
This is an album where there really are no flaws to speak of. Usually there is at least one niggle that slightly degrades an album but on this release there is nothing of the sort. Every song flows into the next one brilliantly and each captures the band members in their elements, with some intense riffing, fast drum work, monstrous vocals and cool bass lines, all of which is captured by a crisp production job. I recommend this to absolutely everyone who enjoys an immensely varied display of death metal done properly.