Released: 2005, Listenable Records
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.