Dawn of Possession

10 reviews

Dawn of Possession reviews

goflotsam on July 8th, 2019

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mikey22 on May 2nd, 2016

Haunting and chilling

This album right here presented before you is some of the darkest, bleakest, and most haunting death metal ever written. Sure Immolation may have become more technical on their later albums and more punishing, but this album has their darkest and most sinister riffs to date. The album art by Andreas Marschall paints a vivid picture of what this album would sound like before you even listen to it. The very dark imagery of demons overtaking the falling angels behind a dark red background gives off the vibe that this will be a haunting and dark listening experience. When I first heard Immolation the first song I ever heard from them was “Father, You’re Not a Father.” Personally, I thought it was okay nothing special, the riffs just didn't grab my attention even though they were extremely atonal, and dissonant sounding, and the technical drumming that constantly changed time signatures just wasn't my style. Then about a month later I decided to give Immolation another shot. This time I listened to the opening track "Into Everlasting Fire." From then on I was hooked and I just kept listening to that song over and over again. The precise drumming, incredible grooves and ghoul sounding vocals got me hooked, plus that incredibly beautiful cover art whoa there. If you’re going to listen to Immolation for the first time I suggest this album first because their later albums like Close to a World Below and their mid period albums like Here in After and Failures for Gods are just way too difficult for the novice listener to get into. While still not an easy album to get into, Dawn of Possession is far easier than the others because of the more straightforward drumming and heavy grooves present in the songs.

Rob Vigna's and Tom Wilkinson's riffs sound like they came straight from the pits of hell. They are incredibly dark and they contain a great mood to them. For example in songs like "Into Ever Lasting Fire," "Dawn of Possession,” and "Internal Decadence" feature more down tuned thrash riffs while songs like "Despondent Souls, “After My Prayers" and “Those left Behind” feature slower more menacing riffs which are just incredibly dark. Ross Dolan's vocals sound so inhuman on this record. The best way to describe it is he sounds like a ghoul from the underworld. He changed his vocal style on later records because he would have blown out his voice if he continued to sing like this. My favorite part about this record is Craig Smilowski’s drumming though. His drumming is like nothing I've ever heard before in the way he is able to follow the guitars and add unique layers on top of the music to create his own truly unique style of frantic drumming. For example in some passages of the songs he will follow the guitars then he'll throw in some great tom rolls, or cymbal hit, then return to following the guitars in such fluid motions. It doesn't sound awkward at all or out of time and that's what a great drummer does. He adds extra layers to the music and accentuates it rather than holding it back; instead he/she pushes the music forward into unforeseen territories.

While the bass isn't audible due to the very powerful guitars and drum sound, Ross is a formidable bass player and vocalist to keep up with guitar wizards Wilkinson and Vigna. His lyrics are very well written dealing with themes of questioning is there an afterlife? Also displayed are themes of anti-religion, and questioning god’s forgiveness. The solos displayed by Vigna are very twisted and morbid sounding as his solos add extra layers of evil and darkness rather than take away from the music or cause ear pain. Many death metal bands at the time (early 90s) had very good riffs but the soloing was out of key, and just a mess of fast notes played at random with not much structure (ex. Hoffman Brothers from Deicide, early Cannibal Corpse, Altars era Morbid Angel). All of them had ear worm infectious riffs but the soloing I could care less about. Vigna's soloing is incredibly beautiful and dark sounding. His soloing is like nothing I have ever heard before. No one has been able to imitate his style of soloing; it is very individualized and unique to the texture of the music that he plays. Overall a magnificent debut easily one of the greatest metal debuts of all-time. Immolation never had such catchy tunes again, sure they became more accomplished musicians and developed more twisted riffs with more time changes within the music, but they would not capture this feel of darkness or energy again I feel. With the raw power of Smilowski’s drumming, Vigna and Wilkinson's riffs, and Ross's ghoul like growl this I feel is their greatest output. This has their best cover art and it features my favorite logo from them which adds to the darkness of the music presented. Immolation has put out many great records, but this one will stand the test of time even 50 years from now with the dark riffs, vocals, pounding drums, and beautiful artwork. If you haven't heard this record give it a listen, I strongly recommend it.

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dismember_marcin on July 4th, 2013

One word: CLASSIC!

“…Enthroned upon their praise, dethroned with my disgust, unworthy of your glory you turn your back on me…”

The sky is burning, when the red mixes with the yellow in the horizon, but the closer it is, the blacker and darker it becomes. Divine, white and majestic figures descent from the skies in the great number, beautiful in their long white robes and wings...but from the below an equal number of something more sinister and evil comes with a great speed. The fallen angels; demons, with red eyes, black skin and wings attack the divine mercilessly… none of the sides flee… the war is on.

This is what you can see on the front cover of Immolation’s classic debut album “Dawn of Possession”. I am writing this review, but I believe that everybody who claims to be a death metal maniac has this LP in his collection, as in my honest opinion this album belongs to the most mandatory death metal releases of all time. If you’re into this music you just MUST HAVE such LPs as “Altars of Madness” and “Blessed Are the Sick”, “Scream Bloody Gore” and “Leprosy”, “Left Hand Path” and “Like an Every Flowing Stream”, “Deicide” and “Cause of Death”, plus a couple dozens of albums more which I consider to be eternal, obligatory classics. And “Dawn of Possession” is certainly among them. This LP, released back in 1991, shows a band that managed to distinguish themselves from the rest of scene, but at the same time stayed faithful to its roots and created a 100% pure death metal album. How have they achieved this? Well, I guess a lot of credit must go to Robert Vigna, who turned out to be one of the most talented and skilled death metal guitarists of all time. He has an incredible gift to compose and play riffs, which are almost hypnotizing and possessing (he!) and which may be quite complex and technical, with some twisted solos here and there. But still the effect is beyond imagination and definitely allows me to say that thanks to this guitar maestro who made Immolation have a characteristic, unique sound and style since the inception of the band. And this is something not so common… It is enough to watch this man play on the stage, how he behaves and performs to know he’s not a typical death metal guitar player. And “Dawn of Possession” for sure has some of the best material that he has composed in his career. Those riffs which you’ll find on this album are just gigantic. This is a monolith death metal, a powerful and majestic record. T

Then you have a great drumming from Craig Smilowski, who plays some unique and complicated patterns. His technique is just fantastic. And finally we have Ross Dolan. Well, his bass playing may be totally overshadowed by Vigna’s (and Wilkinson’s) powerful guitar riffing, but if he isn’t one of the most characteristic and vicious death growlers ever, then I will eat my shoes. Damn, he sounds like a beast from the underworld, screaming some unreadable words in the pits, and so netherworldly his voice sounds.

I know that the musicians will always say that their new album is the best, etc, but fans will always have different opinion and quite often (in 99% of cases, hehe??) they’ll say that the first couple of albums are the best. I am the same and even if I have all Immolation releases and like them all, I will always say that “Dawn of Possession” is their best LP and one, which has some of the best songs, which this band recorded and composed. Starting with excellent “Into Everlasting Fire” – a song, which can be played on my funeral if my family will decide to cremate me and which has some utterly excellent riffs, through such anthems as “Those Left Behind” (oh, that amazing opening theme… fuckin' love it!) to the final seconds of “Immolation - “Dawn of Possession” is a complete record, filled with amazing songs, killer riffs and ideas and amazing feeling. It’s also filled with fury and blasphemous, evil atmosphere. I guess not everyone will be instantly hooked by the progressiveness of this album, as in many ways “Dawn of Possession” is not an easy listen. This music is not as straight forward and “catchy” as “Altars of Madness”; those riffs and song structures will sound bizarre in the first impression because of their complexity and frequent rhythm changes (oh, that Smilowski!), but once you listen to it again and again – and you’ll give it repetitive listens, as this music is just possessing – I bet this will all make sense to you and you’ll start catching every part, every riff, and phrase without any problems.

All in all, “Dawn of Possession” is probably the catchiest and easiest to listen to of all Immolation albums anyway, hehe! For example, I think that “Here In After” requires much more attention than the debut and that’s because it is not only based on the complex structures, but Immolation also have more easier and straightforward and more memorable moments, like that opening theme of “Those Left Behind”, which is just incredibly great!

And maybe it is a good thing that this album has to grown on you. I mean I don’t think that I liked it as much back in the early '90s as I do nowadays. Obviously I had it in my collection (on a pirate Polish tape, hehe) and have listened to it, but there were albums that I listened to and liked more like “Leprosy”, for instance. And nowadays I think I can say that I like “Dawn of Possession” more than “Leprosy” (which on the other hand nowadays is slightly boring to me…I guess I just know it too well and I’ve listened to it too many times, hehe!). So, if you’ve never heard “Dawn of Possession” and want to hear one of the most significant death metal records of all time, then just give it a go. Don’t hesitate.

“You are Jesus, you are lord. Imperfect god, you are nothing to me. For this you say I'll burn for all eternity...”

Standout tracks: “Those Left Behind”, “Into Everlasting Fire”, “No Forgiveness”, “Dawn of Possession”, “After My Prayers”

Final rate: 95/100

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Storfeth on May 12th, 2013

Immolation now begins....

Today I will turn the clock back, 22 years ago. That was the time when death metal was newly born, slowly taking its form by releases of historical bands. One of these bands were Immolation. A group that unfortunately has been underappreciated through the years, regarding the recognition they have (not) been awarded. This debut release showed with a very emphatic way the mark that they were going to leave in the USDM scene.

Immolation managed from the very beginning to do something unique. Being excellent musicians, they incorporated in their music some elements that we do not hear in death metal too often, such as weird disharmonic melodies and strange solos. The constant rhythm changes and the perfect way their musical ideas fit with each other provide a skull-crushing result. From fast thrashy riffs to slow, annihilating ones and some sick groove that could not leave my head motionless. Both guitars sound as one in a perfect balance, while the bass playing of Dolan is firm and massive. Speaking of Ross, he has one of the most characteristic voices in death metal as it is deep and brutal, like growling straight from hell.

A special reference though should be made to the drums as well because they sound exhaustingly difficult. Smilowski provides a top notch performance with some tremendous tempo changes and great technique. After all, he is personally thanked by the other members of the band in the booklet for his great job. Another essential part of this release are the lyrics. They seem to have this evil aesthetic, but their meaning is not tangible. Quite the contrary, since they are abstract at times and create an evil atmosphere that really intrigues me. All of the above of course would be buried and could not be heard without a proper production. Immolation knew what they wanted to play and how they wanted it to sound, so everything is practically perfect.

Dawn of Possession was one of the first death metal albums I ever heard, so there was some time until I was able to perceive its magnificence. Even today it seems unbelievable to me that some guys in their early 20s wrote such a brilliant masterpiece. Anyone that listens to this album will probably give Immolation the place they rightfully deserve, among the pioneers of death metal.

Originally written for: The Lair of Storfeth

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Ilwhyan on April 26th, 2013

Arise in flames...

“Dawn of Possession” is without question among the staples of death metal in the genre’s golden era, as well as one the most accomplished works in the style of all time. Continuing the tradition of “Altars of Madness”, Immolation’s debut is filled with brilliantly sinister chromatic riffs that convey feelings of deranged madness and bloodlust with intensity previously unheard in death metal. The dark tonality makes the music captivating and enjoyable to follow despite its dismalness. It’s not particularly melodic, but the riffs are delightfully memorable and immensely atmospheric. Though vaguely thrashy like most early 90s death metal albums, “Dawn of Possession” innovated an entirely especial substyle of its genre far removed from the constraints of thrash metal. Aside from the quality of riffs an sich, the most noteworthy aspect of the album is the majestically dark, deep atmosphere, which the thick production, sinister guitar leads, and the almost inordinately heavy riffs and drumming together create. Comparing, for example, the artwork here to those of Cannibal Corpse albums released around the same time gives a fairly accurate image of how “Dawn of Possession” compares to its contemporaries.

Atmosphere aside, “Dawn of Possession” is perhaps Immolation at its most mundane and traditional, making it a perfect starting point for new listeners. Naturally, the music here is largely centered on guitars. Though Immolation’s guitar genius Robert Vigna would slightly alter and develop his riffing style later, as apparent on subsequent releases, “Dawn of Possession” is where his guitar leads are at their strongest, even if his later riffing style might have had greater overall effect than the style on his debut. The leads and solos are substantially less pervasive than on following albums, and while Vigna’s later works would feature honed technical brilliance and increased complexity, his ability to convey atmosphere through hellishly dark, otherworldly guitar leads is at its greatest here. Riffing-wise, this album contains many of Vigna's most impressive ones, even if they aren't quite as sophisticated or intricate as on subsequent albums. “Dawn of Possession” features some of the band’s catchiest tremolo-picked riffs; the kind of rumbling, dark and oddly inspiriting themes (“No Forgiveness…”) to which Vigna’s guitar occasionally leads a brilliant solo or counterpoint (“Fall In Disease”, the title track). Tremolo-picking aside, the bread-and-butter riffing is more thrash and palm-mute oriented and less atonal (though largely chromatic, slightly in the Swedish death metal fashion, but mostly borrowing from the tonal aesthetic of early Morbid Angel), and most riffs are built around swirling deep power chords, the faster notes palm-muted, and the longer ones generally sustained, constructing a sweeping, magnificently imposing whirlwind of utterly dark death metal.

The debut shows Immolation at a stage where many aspects of their later lauded style were yet undeveloped. For instance, there’s a certain hellish fury here that would gradually change its form and eventually disappear from Immolation's sound. Similarly, many elements peculiar to the New York death metal scene (even later bands like Malignancy) can be heard that eventually made way to characteristics and traits that Immolation’s later-conducted further development of its own style awarded. As far as the band’s following works compare to the debut, “Here In After” is already a much more refined and planned effort, lacking the spontaneity and blasphemous fury of “Dawn of Possession”, and the following albums continued in the same direction. As Immolation’s music became more complex, its chaotic aspects would increase (effectively peaking at “Failures For Gods”), while the utterly dark aggression and unholy fury would disappear. Certainly, there are far more hateful and brutal death metal albums than “Dawn of Possession”, and approaching Immolation’s debut, or any of their records, as some kind of a pinnacle of aggression and derangement would be misguided. However, this album expresses hate and powerful offensive intent extremely well; likely better than most others in the genre. There’s a sense of calculated, just barely restrained rage in the downtuned, immensely heavy riffing and Dolan’s frantic and yet controlled vocal delivery. Compared to the trademarks of Swedish death metal, for example, there’s considerably less grit and outright relentlessness. The hatred that Immolation expresses here is condensed, calculated and utterly sinister. There’s little impulsive anger here. The depth of atmosphere awards the album layers that go far beyond mundane assessments of catchiness, brutality or intensity. “Dawn of Possession” is something entirely unique.

Without question, the album’s strongest point is in the title track’s darkly atmospheric bridge (“Arise in flames…”), where, though only briefly, the relentless death metal background leaves the stage for an almost otherworldly, beautiful moment of revelry in ecstatic hatred and destruction. The music makes a swift return to the hectic world of barrages of New York death metal riffing and extremely heavy drumming, but that brief reverie is definitely the album’s most memorable moment, and one of the best moments in the band’s entire discography and death metal on the whole. “After My Prayers” and “Fall In Disease” also deliver incredibly, breathtakingly gorgeous moments, which is quite noteworthy considering the sheer blackness and destructive fury of this album.

Aside from the sheer superiority of the riffing, the inventiveness and brutality of the drumming and the befittingly thick production, what makes “Dawn of Possession” so utterly brilliant is its aura of unholiness and profound irreverence, as combined masterfully with memorability and spirit that even few outright riff-fetishist death metal bands can rival. Immolation’s debut does lack the murderous energy of much of early death metal, but it supplements it with unrivaled brilliance of horrific, depraved atmosphere, while studying and developing the extremes of death metal riffing to a laudably major extent. It should be stated that the approach and style sought here is quite dominant and the sounds fairly unvaried, possibly making this quite unpleasant to those not particularly enthusiastic about the atmosphere and aesthetic Immolation achieved on their debut album.

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autothrall on April 24th, 2013

Superbowl VIVIVI: The Kickoff

Dawn of Possession arrived the summer before I was about to finish up high school, and like anything with a death metal logo or Roadrunner stamp (of that period), I snatched it up without having even heard of the New Yorkers. Death metal was already a 'thing' among friends and classmates, with names like Carcass, Death, Deicide, Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel having stirred up some attention, and numerous touring packages already hitting the Boston area (and a local Salisbury Beach club which hosted loads of now legendary bands on early N. American tours); but, that said, the metal 'culture' in my region was still heavily embedded in thrash, hair metal, hardcore or the British trinity of Priest, Sabbath and Maiden. Only a handful of folks were seriously picking around in the underground, and I also encountered a bit of confusion with that other Eastern US abomination, Incantation. Understandable, since both started with the same letter, ended with the same suffix, and pursued extremity with a similar depth and conviction.

To some degree, this album got 'second tiered' in my collection due to the fact that I was still in the throes of appreciation for extremely catchy, evil old death metal with the sorts of catchy riff progressions I equated to the speed or thrash acts I was so enamored with. Even today, I wouldn't count Dawn of Possession among my desert island choices for this sub-genre, as the songwriting is simply not so strong or memorable as an effort like Consuming Impulse, Altars of Madness, Realm of Chaos, Leprosy or Cause of Death. But I certainly enjoyed the debut, kept it in regular rotation for a few years, and have never regretted subsequent visitations, even during my dreaded 'Why must all these bands end in -tion and -opsy?' disenchantment phase somewhere in the middle of the 90s. Because, let's be honest: even if Immolation might not have provided me with any personal 'albums of the year' since its inception, there is just so much to appreciate about the band, and they've remained uncannily consistent, never ceding to emergent trends or selling themselves short, and braving even the most dwindled audiences during death metal's stagnation. I must have seen this band live a half dozen times through the years, never with a sizable crowd, and yet they've never given anything less than 100%. The very definition of the 'class act' in death metal (brutal or otherwise), and it's no wonder they've accrued such a high level of respect, online and offline, from the community.

Of course, even if Ross Dolan and Robert Vigna had been a bunch of scumbags, their music would still speak for itself. Dawn of Possession is one of those frustratingly ageless works that sounds no less massive, morbid and punishing today as when an awkward, pimply, unlayable-even-by-a-blind-hooker 16-year old New Englander first cracked its case over two decades ago. From the iconic Andreas Marschall covert artwork, to the choice in engineers, this is a surprisingly 'European' album. I say that because, rather than go with the flow and pursue the same, predictable Morrisound muffled and processed guitar tone that many of Immolation's Roadrunner labelmates had sought, they recorded this at Musiclab in Berlin, with none other than Harris fucking Johns on the boards. Yes, the esteemed producer and mixer of brilliant thrash and speed metal albums like Deathrow's Deception Ignored, Coroner's R.I.P., Pestilence's Consuming Impulse, Helloween's Walls of Jericho. Tankard, Sodom, Kreator, and many other efforts that shaped my childhood and being. Not exactly a stranger to death meal, but with Immolation he was adapting to a thicker, robust brand of punishment. A different style of writing. Even keeping in mind Consuming Impulse, you wouldn't hear this at first and make that connection. Which is why the guy was so damned good: his flexibility, and understanding of those aesthetics that made each of these creatures unique...

On a strictly superficial level, Dawn of Possession struck some semblance to other death metal works to have come before it. The tremolo riffing progressions in pieces like "Into Everlasting Fire" had that same menacing, morbid flavor I took away from Scream Bloody Gore and Leprosy. The corpulent, unnerving grooves and breakdowns definitely fell somewhere between the Autopsy style and the British bludgeoning of Carcass (Symphonies of Sickness) and Bolt Thrower (Realm of Chaos). Ross Dolan's vocals were like a deeper, more guttural Chuck Schuldiner tempered with David Vincent, albeit with a pretty convincing sustain placed on many of the lyrical phrases. But the ability to fuse together lurching, loping grooves and faster picked passages wasn't playing out too closely to any other band before it. The songwriting is busy without becoming unnecessarily impossible or complex. The rhythm guitars pinch off a number of percussive squeals through the monstrous miasma, but blend them seamlessly into the overall riffing structure, rather than transforming them into an annoying 'feature' as many later, younger brutal death acts would (and still do). The intro to "No Forgiveness (Without Bloodshed)" is a great example. Immolation's choices in notation seemed to birth a strange, surreal darkness; like they were, at long last, translating some indecipherable, ancient infernal text into the language of urbanite death metal.

Yog-sothoth comes to Yonkers! And there was much suffering (and cool photo ops). It doesn't hurt that Dawn of Possession sounds so freakin' amazing. The rhythm guitar churns like a rich compost soil, broad and bright where necessary but pummeling enough to feel it in the colon. Glazed, eerie leads erupt off the contours of the background riffing like abysmal bats taking flight, and employ all manner of tapping and wailing techniques to sound as otherworldly as possible. Dolan's bass lines shadow the guitar, and though they're rarely as interesting, the fact that he's pulling double duty precludes any real disappointment. You can at least hear them swerving along like a 1st edition gelatinous cube sweeping clean a dungeon corridor. His vocals are given some great reverb at points to just hover off over the ballistic undercurrent, and though the guy just doesn't have a super distinct style like John Tardy or Martin van Drunen, his performance here is a perfectly serviceable and disturbing peer for David Vincent and Craig Pillard. By and large, though, I'd have to say that Craig Smilowski's drumming is the most standout component of this record. I simply can't believe that they could be mixed so loudly without losing the rest of the instrumentation!

You can hear every goddamn tom roll, kick, slap, snare and splash throughout, so prevalently that you feel as if you're actually sitting in Craig's chair and battering the kit yourself, effortlessly morphing between blasts and grooves, so second nature that it becomes third...nature. I'm not one of those blokes who pays such close attention to the drumming that every other instrument becomes moot, but these come across as a treat. Organic, expressive, phenomenal, and punishing enough to support the vaulted ceilings of the philosophical underworld in which Immolation dwells. Speaking of which, the sinister lyrics here, which read like a pathological examination of damnation against a backdrop of Milton and Dante, feel legitimately harrowing, haunting and sincere. Where a band like Deicide, who delighted in God-dissin' blasphemy so directly and theatrically that they created a shockwave through semi-popular culture, always came off 'hammy' to me. Clowns wielding inverted crosses. I have never gotten that impression from Immolation, and this lack of a disconnect really helps thunder home the barbs of darkness with due verisimilitude:Twist of scripture, Christ possessed

Come forth with wrath, evil obsessed

Hatred and war, sadistic spell

Swallows the earth, thanks be to Hell!

For all its strengths, though, Dawn of Possession is not a perfect album. A near mandatory purchase for any self-respecting man, woman or child who dares wear the mantle of 'death metal fan'? Indeed. But there are a fair share of moments on the album in which I felt more of a swinging through the motions rather than any sense of soul sucking pathos. Where the brutality becomes quite soulless in spite of itself. It's evil as shit, but never quite had me jumping at shadows like Slowly We Rot, Consuming Impulse, Onward to Golgotha or Left Hand Path. A few riffs will miss by a wider margin than intended, and a transition or two will feel rushed or slapped together. In general, even though I consider this one of their best albums, a lot of later Immolation experiments with riffing structure and dissonance to greater effect, and that's really the band most have come to know and admire. Does it belong among the annals of cult classics? Unquestionably, but Immolation is not some flash in the pan or short-term fascination. It would be a disservice to experience just one of their recordings, because almost all of them are interesting even where they take only baby steps in progression. And that baby has a pitchfork, which it plans to shove directly up your...


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psychosisholocausto on April 5th, 2013

Immolation achieve wonders on their debut

It would be fair to say that Immolation have had a spectacular career. As a groundbreaking band that introduced the idea of far more technical guitar work and drum patterns than many interested in death metal were used to, this band has inspired countless that would follow them. Their debut album was released in 1991 under the Roadrunner Records label and the frenzy of power chord riffs and the constant fills mixed into the drum patterns were absolutely revolutionary. Ten songs make up the forty three minute insanity that this album contains and each one of them is nothing short of magnificent.

Constant tempo changes are the main course for the opening song "Into Everlasting Fire"; an idea the band would reuse on later works such as the song "Nailed To Gold"; and feels fresh and interesting. This is Immolation's world and in it they are free to drag their listener into a realm of death, darkness and destruction. Much of the "Dawn Of Possession" album is a mixture of lightning fast tremolo picked rhythm lines and incredibly fast and technical lead sections with various pinched harmonic-infested riffs scattered in between to keep the feeling of variety. Robert Vigna's ear-piercing solos tear through the wall of sound the rest of the instruments create to deliver one crude fact-you do not want to enrage Immolation.

The youthful energy that characterizes this album is best embodied by vocalist/bassist Ross Dolan who consistently holds up his end of the music throughout the entire release. Spewing out blasphemy in his signature monstrous roar is just another day at the office for this man, delivering his lines with incredible brutality and anger. The ingenious carnage that he creates with his voice is only matched by the chaotic bass performance he provides. Whilst much of his bass work follows the rhythm guitar; which is a feat in itself; he occasionally has the chance to shine by playing his own individual sections which meander away from what the rest of the band are doing at the time.

Another factor that contributes to the success of Immolation's spectacular debut is the savage drum performance that carries the album galloping forward at a blistering pace. "Those Left Behind" shows off a slower side to the band to begin with and whilst the drumming is more simplistic here than on much of this release; it also shows off Craig Smilowski as a multi-talented drummer; capable of performing at any speed to no less effect. "Despondant Souls" is another fantastic example of the drumming, with its near constant use of fills every few measures during the fastest sections. The intensity provided by Smilowski is truly something to marvel at as one indulges and revels in the cruel music displayed here.

"Dawn Of Possession" is a special debut, never letting up in its relentless aggression throughout. The vocals are demonic, the drumming chaotic and the riff work creating an evil atmosphere which links in well with the anti-Christian lyrics on display here.

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InfinityX on July 6th, 2012

Haunting and Devoid of Life

This album has the best of two different death metal worlds. The classic old school thrashy world, and the dark atmospheric one that Immolation themself would become innovators in. That’s what makes this album so great. It has waves of that grizzly atmospheric sound that brings images of a dying world under siege by legions of hell spawn, while at the same time having those delicious grooves and headbanging riffs. There’s even a great variety of song structures here, which is something that gives this album a big boost ahead of a lot of death metal albums.

I mean some death metal bands (*cough Cannibal Corpse *cough) only know how to make one type of song. And I'm not taking anything away from those bands. Hell I could listen to Bloodthirst all day, but it does keep those albums back from reaching that certain level if you know what I mean. Let’s take a look at this masterpieces song structures. The opener Into Everlasting Fire, one of my personal favorite death metal songs, is basically a progressive song. So many different riffs assault you, with varying tempos and sections. Throw in a few skull shredding solos by veteran guitar master Bob Vigna and you have yourself a masterpiece. Not to mention the epic lyrics.

May the love of god shed its grace

upon the evil side of man

symbolic throne begins to tarnish

poisoned with impurity

dark clouds start to thicken

dominate tranquil skies

frigid earth devoid of life

begins to rot and DIE!

Put words this awesome into the talented voice of Ross Dolan and you have one of the finest vocal performances in death metal. All throughout this album you will be treated to reverberating, spine shattering vocals that are understandable, and when you understand them, you don't feel yourself getting dumber! Back to songs. The next song is the chugging Despondent souls, which is a more mid paced head banger song. The title track is a favorite of mine whenever I feel the need to get a concussion, just try to not bang your head when the concluding riff kicks in, and kick is a good term, as it feels as if Bob Vignas chords are pounding you right in the gut!

The guitars on this album truly could be licensed as illegal weapons. They hit hard, like a hammer when the beat is thrashing or if it’s time to slow the tempo down, and cut like a knife when it’s time to shred or slice up some of that cold atmosphere. Like on another frequent listen of mine, Those Left Behind, which features all of the above. And throughout the next songs: Internal Decadence, No Forgiveness and Burial Ground, you can really hear some of the famous Vigna Pinch harmonics. These three songs are shorter thrashier songs.

The last song that I find myself gravitating too a lot is After My Prayers. The intro is classic Vigna, with the squealing guitars and the atmospheric trem picking. This song has a very black/doom feel to it. But though I like anybody have my favorites, this whole album is awesome, with no stragglers, and no filler. Every song has its own part to play on this album, and I more often than not listen to the whole thing. Even though it is longer than the average death metal album at 42 or so minutes.

A few more details on this album for you readers out there who aren't sold yet. The rhythm guitars are a great complement to the leads, playing with the guitars, at times in ways that aren’t just mimicry. As does the bass. Not super loud but not too quiet either. Complements the mix very nicely. Craig Smilowski is a beast on the drum kit, showing his blooming, unique style on the skins. Instrumentally I can't find any complaints.

Nor can I find problems with the mix. Every instrument is heard just the way I want it to be heard. Hell even the artwork rules on this album. There is no reason for you to not go out and buy this! If you like death metal, go to amazon right now!

For bringing the Immolation brand to old school death metal, Dawn of Possession gets an easy 99 or a 5 out of 5


Into Everlasting Fire

Dawn of Possession

After My Prayers

Those Left Behind

Despondent Souls

Burial Ground

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orphy on December 28th, 2009

Into Everlasting Greatness

Anyone who’s ever ventured into NYDM or old school death metal in general will have stumbled across this album earlier on in their findings. 1991 was a prime year for death metal, seeing other releases like “Effigy of the Forgotten” and “Blessed Are The Sick”. “Dawn of Possession” ranks among these records as a classic death metal assault. Immolation’s debut may not have been as technical as they would later get, even compared to “Here In After”. However, their identity is already really solid on this album, and they pretty much set up the template for their uniquely evil death metal.

Immolation never really sounded like another death metal band, and always had something very unique to them, between Ross Dolan’s distinct low end growl, their use of rhythmic experimentation, and how the drums would play with the riffs. Sure, you could compare it to Incantation or Autopsy in terms of how dark, heavy, and brutal it is, but Immolation had their own approach. Just check out some of the weird layered riffing in “Despondent Souls”. Through use of chromatics and tritones, guitarists Bob Vigna and Tom Wilkinson play off each other to create tension in the riffs, and then converge back together to release.

Between Vigna, Wilkinson and Dolan, these guys really thought about how to structure their songs and make them interesting. As I mentioned, they build tension within their riffs, and seem to do this with their song structures as well. Each song presents some parts that are slower/faster, primitive/technical, and flawlessly structure them to create nice contrasts here and there. Craig Smilowski (of Goreaphobia) does a fantastic job keeping it all together and created the blueprint to how drums should work in Immolation – follow the riff. His beats get complicated as the riffs do, and feature tons of great double bass work, tom fills, and quick hand work to back these compositions.

Every track on this album is a classic, period. This is where it all started, and Immolation were a band that influenced a lot of more brutal death metal bands, as well as a lot of the more technical ones, but still trumps them all in terms of quality and consistency. It would be another 4 years until Immolation struck again, with “Here In After”, which is similar to this album, but more musically complex. Metal Mind Productions has reissued this record in recent years, so there’s no excuse not to own this classic slab of death metal.

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6CORPSE6GRINDER6 on September 30th, 2007

Dawn Of Perfection

Shit, this is one of the best death metal albums ever recorded! There are tempo changes everywhere, raw melodies, fast and brutal drums, totally evil growls, and frightening solos,(I said frightening because I almost feel scared when I heard them, they’re slow and malicious). The combination of these elements is the perfect recipe to create an enormous and destructive bomb that lasts 42 minutes and 42 seconds exploding.

Riffs like the one on the beginning of “Those Left Behind”, make this record what it is, a sinister work that unlike most death metal records, is not simply violence, it’s pure evilness reflected in those wicked guitars, guttural growls, and impious lyrics like “once created in his imagine, now destroyed in his fury...”, or “

you are Jesus, you are lord, imperfect god, you are nothing to me...” That’s the essence of Immolation, one of the most evil bands ever, and one of the best too. The cover displays the same evil idea, demons raping the angels in the sky...

The album starts with “Into Everlasting Fire”, one of the band's classics, it contains the largest amount of tempo changes of the album I think, a lot of riffs are shown in this song, and a lot of solos too. “Despondent Souls” begins with that slow riff and that doomed scream, and suddenly gets faster. The combination of low notes with high ones at the end of a riff is very notable in almost every part of the song, resembling a desperate scream of someone who is being tortured in hell or something like that!(at least that is my interpretation). “Dawn Of Possession” just grinds your head from the start to the end, perhaps is the fastest song of the album. “Those Left Behind” has a large amount of rhythm changes, but not as much as the first track, this is one of my favorites because of the lyrics, but musically is as good at the others, not better... only lyrics can make the difference. It starts with another slow riff that is modified and become the main riff of the song. Another cool part is the riff played from 1:37 to 2:08, one of the best parts of the album. “Internal Decadence” is a pretty fast one, those thundering drums keep the song dynamic, with every break this guy, Craig Smilowski, does. He’s maybe the best musician of the album.

Those were the first 5 songs, now the other 5. “No Forgiveness (Without Bloodshed)” it’s almost instrumental, there are just a few lines written to be sung by Ross Dolan, it features one of the best and largest solos of the album and some explosive blast beats when Dolan sings. “Burial Ground” has cool lyrics too, about how war destroys earth, is another of the songs were Smilowski shows his skills (well, he does in every song actually), the break in 2:43 is simply amazing. “After My Prayers” is the longest song of the album, it begins with a cool riff that goes down with every note, it seems to be infinite the first time you hear it, it just gets lower and lower until it reaches a high note, is like being pushed the stairs of a 20 ft building and get up and be pushed again. The same riff is repeated later, but it isn’t boring, the band keep it fresh, and to be a 6 minute song it is very fluid. “Fall In Disease” is another fast track, it follows the same pattern as the other ones, heavy and evil riffs with crazy drumming and low vocals. “Immolation” is sadly the last song, it is one of the first compositions with the name Immolation, and is another fast, brutal piece of classic DM, it shows the capacity of the band since its inception, and their signature technical riffs.

This is one of the best albums,(every Immolation album is good however) of this elite death metal band, a classic that must be in your collection.

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GuntherTheUndying on July 19th, 2006

Immolate Your Soul!

America's death metal scene back in the early nineties was a strong yet progressing time. Death metal bands were sprouting up everywhere and the genre was at it's highest fan base. Many bands that came up at that time have been a powerful influence on modern death metal, and one of those bands is Immolation. During 1991, Immolation released "Dawn Of Possession" which quickly became an undergroud hit and is one of the most ruthless and brutal death metal debuts of our time.

One thing that separates Immolation's debut from other death metal debuts is the technical riffing and drumming. Bands like Deicide, Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel poured a decent amount of technicality into their music, but Immolation out did them all; only Cryptopsy and Gorguts can top them in the technical field. Guitarist Robert Vigna and Tom Wilkinson do a tremendous job of constantly changing in and out of each riff. The riff changes are unpredictable and thrilling as Wilkinson and Vigna sway between multiple riffs, which range from standard death riffs to mid paced thrash influenced riffs, but they still contain the usual zest of any death metal band. The guitar speed is a huge plus on "Dawn Of Possession." Vigna and Wilkinson do an electrifying job of playing technical riffs at incredible speed. Trying to comprehend the speed of the riffs and the amount of notes hit is almost impossible. The soloing is nothing special. The solos are usually short and are somewhat predictable, but the overall guitar work is fantastic. Drummer Craig Smilowski gives off a wonderful drum performance that certainly isn't a let down. Smilowski shows he can keep up with the rest of the band with his quick reflexes. His reflexes show just how talented he is when he is bashing his snare at full force and is double bassing at lighting fast speed and he'll suddenly stop and catch his cymbals and do something completely different and switch between the two.

Not only does Ross Dolan do a terrific job on vocals, but he also established THE signature sound of death metal vocals. Dolan's voice destroyed the old norms of death growls and replaced them with something much more devastating then before. Dolan uses extremely deep growls that penetrate the music and fits perfectly in every single way. During most of the songs, Dolan lets out a massive growl that sounds like a beast that really shows what this guy is capable of. Absolutely amazing vocal performance.

When all is said and done, Immolation were just as good back in 1991 as they are now. "Dawn Of Possession" is defiantly a classic death metal album and should be added to any metalhead's collection.

This review was orginally written for:

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Dawn of Possession track list

1Into Everlasting Fire05:15
2Despondent Souls04:16
3Dawn of Possession03:07
4Those Left Behind05:14
5Internal Decadence03:04
6No Forgiveness (Without Bloodshed)04:13
7Burial Ground03:41
8After My Prayers05:55
9Fall in Disease03:52

Dawn of Possession lineup

Ross DolanVocals, Bass, Songwriting
Robert VignaGuitars, Songwriting
Tom WilkinsonGuitars, Songwriting
Craig SmilowskiDrums