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Harnessing Ruin
February 2005
Released: 2005, Listenable Records
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen

Let’s face it ... only a handful of Death Metal bands that started in the late 80s and early 90s have managed to push the boundaries and still stay loyal to their original roots. One of those rare bands is undoubtedly New York’s Death Metal pioneers Immolation. They have, unlike many of their contemporaries, succeeded in spreading their wide and dark wings toward new territories without losing any of their credibility or selling their souls to a more mainstream sound.

UNHOLY CULT, the band’s previous effort was a true masterpiece of writing and composition. It was larger-than-life, heavy and deliciously catchy Death Metal and earned its own special place in the heart Death Metal community. Two years have passed since UNHOLY CULT and now the Immo–dudes are back with their 6th album. HARNESSING RUIN sees a departure of Thomas Wilkinson and Alex Hernandez from the ranks, both of whom were in the recording line-up for UNHOLY CULT. The two new dudes, Steve Shalaty for drums and Bill Taylor for the 2nd guitar, fill the empty spots well.

Immolation returns with their most dynamic, matured and varied album to date. I think I’m safe in saying that Immolation has recorded the best album of their career. Their songwriting for this new opus is phenomenal, no matter how hard you try to be cynical about it.

Comparing HARNESSING RUIN to the band’s previous output UNHOLY CULT (which I felt could never be topped in terms of killer song writing), the songs on HARNESSING have been shaped more around melody. This doesn’t mean they have given up any of their brutality. The music is a bit more straight-forward, but with controlled rhythms and overall just more dynamic song arrangements.

The opening track, “Swarm of Terror” starts off with a ripping part, but then starts developing toward more epic and heavier moments, making the song one of the best tunes the band has ever laid down. "Our Savior Sleeps" is a very slow, heavy and haunting song that just slowly builds into one of the best and most beautifully churned out guitar leads on the album. It has got a kinda creepy feel around it, too, which in fact has always been present in most of the Immolation songs in my opinion. It’s a relatively short song and very straight forward, but it’s still a very strong song structurally. The title track earns its reputation probably as the most dynamic, most crafted, creepiest sounding and most complicated song structure-wise, and unquestionably even, one of those songs off the album that got instantly stuck in my mind since I heard it for the first time. “Harnessing Ruin” is simply a true tour de force showing off these fellows abilities to be creative and productive. What an awesome song it is, absolutely!!

As for some other strong compositions on HARNESSING RUIN go, I think "Son of Iniquity" needs to be mentioned for being one of the heaviest songs on the album in which Rossì regular, deep vocal grunts are combined with some whispers, creating a nice contrast to his heavier vocal approach in this track. The more you spin the song, the better it tends to sound each time. Seems like there guys never stop amazing us.

In closing, it could be said that Immolation’s march continues victoriously on HARNESSING RUIN. Do yourself a favor and get this very essential piece of Death Metal. You don’t wanna miss the best Death Metal album of 2005.
Track Listing

01. Swarm of Terror
02. Our Savior Sleeps
03. Challenge the Storms
04. Harnessing Ruin
05. Dead to Me
06. Son of Iniquity
07. My Own Enemy
08. Crown the Liar
09. At Mourning’s Twilight


Ross Dolan – Vocals and bass
Robert Vigna – Guitar
Bill Taylor - Guitar
Steve Shalaty – Drums

Next review: » Immolation - Harnessing Ruin
Previous review: » Immolation - Atonement

Harnessing Ruin
June 2005
Released: 2005, Olympic/Century Media
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Gabriel C. Zolman

Immolation are the missing link between bands like Nile and Incantation. They have never released a truly terrible record, although—like Incantation—they have released many that were less memorable than others. The problem has always been that the band keeps getting better on a technical level, and that doesn’t always mean anything. Look at a band like Cannibal Corpse: as musicians, they’re brilliant. But their records are dreary, lifeless, repetitive endeavors that most kids only listen to for shock value. But this time, the band has come that much closer to fulfilling the promise made by earlier albums: this threatens to be special. Is it? Bits of it are. Bits of it inspire me as to why I first got into Death Metal. There is a hint of menace to it—not the cheesy “Curse God/Fuck the Dead” sort of cliché-mongering you might usually find. Well, perhaps I should specify: being Immolation, there actually is quite a bit of god-cursing going on. But it’s intelligent god-cursing, and that makes it much more threatening—these guys have thought about it long and hard, and the end result is still a thrusted middle finger to the sky.

As a whole, it’s certainly better than the vast majority of what you will hear in the name of Death Metal. There are Black Metal elements, but they are far more restrained than one might find elsewhere. There are some Nile-worthy solos. There is some Incantation-worth creepiness. There is even a sense of majestic dread such as Drawn & Quartered might pull together. Songs like the sinister title cut, and the foreboding “Our Savior Sleeps” are outstanding, and rank as among the best the band has ever crafted. The venomous “Dead To Me” is yet another stand out, and represent the closest thing to melodicism that the group has yet attempted. The pounding rhythms of “Son Of Iniquity” are just plain cruel. This could actually kill insects.

Almost in spite of themselves, and their trademark sinister bravado, Immolation have crafted a standout record in their gruesome pantheon. This will still get spins in this reviewers disc-player long after Review Time’s gone and passed.

Comparable to the newest Incantation and Blood Ritual endeavors, and actually better than the most recent Origin, Lost Soul, and Bloodbath releases, if you just hate Christians so much that you oft times sit yourself, you’ll want to pick this up. Is it the best the band has ever done? Probably not. Is it the best the band can do? Nope. But it’s easily as good—if not better—than most of what you’ll find. It’s a grower, a sleeper, and a keeper—even a winner—in the end.
Track Listing

1. Swarm Of Terror
2. Our Savior Sleeps
3. Challenge The Storm
4. Harnessing Ruin
5. Dead To Me
6. Son Of Iniquity
7. My Own Enemy
8. Crown The Liar
9. At Mourning's Twilight


Ross Dolan - Bass/Vox
Bill Taylor - guitar
Robert Vigna - guitar
Steve Shalaty - drums

Next review: » Immolation - Kingdom of Conspiracy
Previous review: » Immolation - Atonement

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