Review Summary: "Not even God can save you now!"
An all-too-familiar-sounding guitar motif slithers into earshot, exposed but not alone. Before you have a chance to infer its purpose, it’s joined by a sonic armada – one that is instantly overwhelming and unceasing in its hostility. Chaos gives way to order as everything settles into a steady groove, then it all reverts to chaos, then back to order, alternating between the two states in an irregular yet calculated manner. Forcibly swept up but simultaneously fascinated, you sit in anticipation, not of a timely conclusion, but of what you’ll hear next. The pattern repeats until the aptly-titled “Epiphany”, by which time all you can really do is let everything sink in as words fail you.
is quintessential Immolation, in that just about everything that can be said about it has already been said about its predecessors. Make no mistake, that’s not to malign the album as an entity, but differentiating it from, say, Majesty and Decay
or Kingdom of Conspiracy
on a stylistic level is a struggle at best. It’s a bit more groove-oriented than either of them, and is much more listenable than the latter, by virtue of Zach Ohren’s newfound respect for boundaries concerning dynamic range compression. Sonically, it’s still clean as a whistle; Steve Shalaty’s metronomic drumming scythes its way through the mix but stops well before the threshold of pain. As such, you don’t need to be too
hesitant with the volume, as everything congeals together with fluidity and without sacrificing Immolation’s unmistakable sense of malice.
Axeman Rob Vigna is in his element, penning leads and riffs with exquisitely veiled intricacy and delivering them with appreciable force. The usual plateau of percussive downstrokes, oddball bends, pinch harmonics and solos that loiter on the edges of tonality are in abundance, only seeming to enjoy a little more breathing space this time around. “Fostering the Divide” is a good illustration of this. The two main assaults are separated and bookended by bouts of minimal, tribal-esque drumming and auspicious, droning guitar lines – eerily reminiscent of an ancient call to arms. These minor yet oddly theatrical intermissions serve the rest of the material well, and give the listener a vital ration of auditory relief in the process.
Don’t be fooled into thinking these creative decisions are made out of sympathy, however, because all they do is augment the carnage when the band wage war on your senses. “When the Jackals Come", the title-track and “The Power of Gods” all make good cases for being Atonement’s
most ruthless track, but the album’s true bastions lay just shy of these extremes. Vigna’s unusual, dare I say, melodic use of pinch harmonics that form the crux of “Lower” make the song an instant standout – alien in terms of timbre but alluring in its sensibilities. In a way, it represents a musical parallel to the angel adorning Atonement’s
cover; Immolation’s music has once again taken a familiar form, only to contort it so as to spell out your inescapable fate.