Released: 2013, Nuclear Blast Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
After more than 25 years in the underground trenches, New York’s Immolation have death metal down to a science. That’s not to say, however, that they are content to merely go through motions as they chug toward middle age, so to speak. Despite a familiar sound and ethic, the band continue to advance and explore – even if by a matter of degrees.
But in death metal it’s often the little things that can keep things interesting, and where Immolation perk up the ears with their ninth album is in the flourishes guitarists Robert Vigna and Bill Taylor sprinkle about quite liberally throughout Kingdom of Conspiracy. Be it their quick-hitting, dive-bomb solos, pick-scraping squeals and shrill sweeps; or tasty, careening hooks, they’ve got a lot going on just beneath the surface of their typical death metal churn and burn. Indeed, they manage to craft an impressively technical body of work here without sounding so damn obvious.
And it’s the other half of the Immolation equation, bassist/vocalist Ross Dolan and drummer Steve Shalaty, who really help in that regard. They steer the music ever-forward, and often at all-ahead full, riding Shalaty’s double-bass fueled tempos with murderous precision. There are few drastic time changes or herky-jerky, undulating tempos to disrupt the momentum, with “A Spectacle of Lies” being one notably brief exception. Kingdom is much more of a drag race than the Monaco Grand Prix, with Dolan’s menacing, ursine vocals providing the requisite roar.
Immolation really seemed to catch a second wind when they signed with Nuclear Blast an unleashed 2010’s towering Majesty And Decay. And that drive and purpose has carried over to Kingdom Of Conspiracy, which is at the same time incendiary and exhilarating. So much for a mid-life crisis.