Released 24th February 2017
Released via Nuclear Blast Records
My first death metal review of 2017! The last death metal release that caught my attention was the latest Vader album, which was mentioned in my top ten metal releases of 2016. I have to admit that when it comes to death metal I’m more familiar with the European death metal than the North American variety. My knowledge of the American death metal scene is mostly based on my experience of a handful of bands, primarily old Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse. Immolation started out around the same time as Morbid Angel and that’s why they caught my attention. So I decided to check out their latest album.
The pace is fairly varied, ranging from mid-paced to slow depending on the track. It’s clearly not meant to be all about the blast beats or the ultra fast shredding of guitar riffs. That’s not to say that all the tracks are slower and ponderous but rather that the overall style, particularly the guitar and drum patterns have a more complex and ‘layered’ approach. For example there is the groove-laden Throw into the Fire, which comprises a mixture of low-tempo, sludgy death metal at the start leading towards some faster, more death-thrash style midway through before slowing down again at end.
For those who want something more aggressive and brutal, then Lower and the title track will not disappoint. These two are structurally simpler and less technical than some of the other songs on here, with the emphasis being on the thrashing guitar riffs and pummeling drums. ‘Lower’ caught my attention due to the thrash metal tinges in guitar riffs half way through the song.
In summary, what we have here is a very consistent, old-school death metal album. For those who are familiar with Immolation’s earlier work, ‘Atonement’ doesn’t offer anything dramatically new. There’s a good balance of aggression and brutality with melody and precision. It might take a few listens to get into, but once you do you will be rewarded for your patience.