Released: 2002, Listenable Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
Okay… the true pioneers of heavy, utterly brutal, twisted yet very addictive dark Death Metal have finally arrived back on the scene with their 5th and most advanced and crushing new album to date, somewhat surprisingly and simply titled UNHOLY CULT, after being away from the metal scene a rather long period. Actually it would be totally unfair towards them if I said they haven´t topped their previous album CLOSE TO A WORLD BELOW at every possible level as far as the album as an unholy wholeness is concerned ´coz they surely have done so – and a very convincing yet most charming way indeed!! I don´t say CLOSE TO A WORLD BELOW was a bad album by any means from these relentless New Yorkers, but if you just compare this newest effort of theirs to the previous two outputs from them, you are soon about to realize some drastic differences between their latest 3 albums for sure.
First off, what hasn´t changed, is the fact they indeed sound as much like Immolation as they have always sounded. The band has created a very distinctive sound of their very own during the years and once you hear Immolation somewhere, you´ll notice them right away by their familiar sound. That´s what is so great about them. No other band has yet been capable of copycatting Immolation and that´s only a positive thing, of course!!
As for UNHOLY CULT, one of the first things I myself paid quite a lot of attention to is the production on the album. Damn it sounds like they have really put an incredible amount of time and effort into it this time around ´coz you are able to hear all the instruments separately. The guitars´ tone is dead-heavy, truly crushing and still amazingly clear whereas the rest of the instruments support the guitars perfectly throughout the whole album. In fact, I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed with the rather muddy and messy (at some places) production on their two previous albums, FAILURES FOR GODS (1999) and CLOSE TO A WORLD BELOW (2000). Now the band has really done their homework production-wise which makes this album an even more enjoyable listening experience. Also, the band has got rid of some of the blast beat stuff that was typical for them on their earlier albums and replaced it with more mid-paced stuff instead. An increased amount of melody has been added into the middle of their unforgettably dark yet morbid passages and the result is nothing else but truly astonishingly mind-melting. The whole album just reeks of all these elements that are going to make UNHOLY CULT by far their best album to date – and by far one of the best Death Metal albums ever, no kidding dear folks!! Songs like “Of Martyrs and Men”, the 8-minute long, epic title track “Unholy Cult”, “Wolf Among the Flock” and “Rival the Messiah” all speak for Immolation´s unmatched uniqueness and quality in the over-saturated Death Metal scene. Immolation have definitely proven themselves to be the true leaders of the whole Death Metal scene by the excellence of UNHOLY CULT – and I wish they could stay on this chosen path for the rest of their life ´coz it´s a path made for survivors only and the dudes from the Immolation camp can consider themselves easily survivors by recording these 8 heart-blackening, unholy Death Metal songs for this masterpiece better known as UNHOLY CULT.
Probably the best Death Metal album of 2002 is here… now smell, taste and admit the brilliance of it.