Failures for Gods reviews
erebuszine on April 23rd, 2013
A paean to the power of the abyss
This album was highly anticipated by a number of people in the death metal scene, for a variety of reasons. For one, Immolation rarely disappoints on any level, and I think many people were ready to hear an American death metal band come back with a good album to offset the tremendous deficit that we have been building in relation to the stellar European scene. Secondly, Immolation always seems to deliver music that is perfectly representative of where the American scene is (in terms of progression) even while they give us albums that can be pointed to as uniquely their own in the matter of style. It is no coincidence that the American scene always rallies behind these guys - they have earned that position through year after year of hard work and dedication.
Immolation is first and foremost an amazing live band, and I still don't think their albums do justice to that fact - but that's a commonplace. I had the opportunity to see Immolation twice this year, at the Milwaukee Metalfest and at a show here in Dallas, and both times I came away stunned by the emotion on display. In a live situation their music gives off much more deadly energy than it does on disc or tape, and to see them perform is, I think, a chance to witness the potential and power that this form of music really can evoke. On stage they are black malevolent violence personified... they are one of the angriest death metal bands I have ever seen, and that passion is what sets them apart.
Having said that, let's turn to this, their newest work. I have been a fan of this band for about eight years now, since their demo days, and I have watched their progression all along with interest and attachment. This is easily their best album - why? Because it resonates with the listener long after it's first abilities to startle or provoke have been ameliorated by repeated listenings. After a while it's the underlying melodicism that comes through, not the 'brutal' edge or the savage power that it holds. I don't think I can say that for their other albums - except for select songs like 'Those Left Behind'. This album sets a new standard for Immolation in that it's much more melodically complex and richer in thematic scope - if not as technical as 'Here in After'. This album penetrates much deeper into the musical world that they have created on the last two releases, and explores more of the infernal reflection of reality that Immolation set themselves up to be. It is also a much more relaxed album in that it unfolds at its own pace, and doesn't seek to cram as many catchy riffs in the first few songs as it can - it allows some breathing space for the solos and more room for added dynamics and/or shades of meaning. For the first few listens, I would suggest putting this album on while you are engaged in doing something else - not as background music, really, but in order to give the songs a chance to sink into your consciousness without trying to pay attention to every twist and turn critically. That way when you come back to it after a few days you will be able to pick out the highlights without much difficulty, and the album will expand with your understanding of its structure.
I have always been an admirer of Bob Vigna's guitar playing and this album does not let me down in any way. He has continued to bring more and more dynamics and thought to his playing and/or composing, and in the space of a single song he and Tom now have the ability to sum up an entire decade of death metal melodicism - from the simplest and catchiest of doomdirge riffs to exquisitely layered and vibrant dark soundscapes. He has an original melodic vision (much in the same way as Trey Azagthoth) and I love the way that he makes Immolation's music so dense and malleable that it often seems to be moving and standing still at the same time: pulsing while it freezes, writhing while it shrieks to a halt, falling while it urges you to rise.
For me, this is the ending statement for American death metal in the '90s. I think Immolation have summed it all up for us while offering little in the way of hope for the future - in fact the last song on this album ends with a doom-filled slow march of despair, while the guitars take turns crying out over the martial rhythm in a beautiful little melody that is probably the most affecting thing they have ever written. 'Where can it go from here?' the music seems to say, and I find myself echoing that sentiment. This is a work of endtime art, a paean to the power of the abyss.
6CORPSE6GRINDER6 on October 22nd, 2012
The third nail...
“Failures for Gods” is the name of Immolation’s third record, which came out after 11 years or so of spawning obscure death metal devoted to the vile and malicious. You can start seeing some glimpses of maturity in the band’s sound, this time songs got a little longer and even better coined composition wise. Their brutal onslaught remains fast and vicious as hell but there are some changes, like the incorporation of more slow and mid paced passages and some other gimmicks like the inclusion of some clean guitars in the title track, that slays as always. Something I like about Immolation’s music is precisely that it doesn’t rely on the defying guitar distortions to sound evil, If you take those melodies and play them clean they would still sound like the whispers from the left hand path, fucking satanic.
There’s also a change in the band’s line up. Alex Hernández replaced Craig Smilowski on the percussive duties, a bloody piece of a drummer too -maybe even a little better- especially in the cymbal work, both drummers have a remarkable speed on their feet and arms. His fills are brutal, and his double bass drum sounds right in your temple every strike after another. The drumming was recorded so neat and acoustic, not like today’s over triggered productions, it sounds so natural… just the drum kit and the mics. Bass guitar gained more presence but it is still relegated in the back row, vocals instead are perfectly recorded and Dolan’s blasphemies spitted right from the diaphragm, as Satan commands.
Other change I notice is the guitar tone, this time it is not as thin and acid as on their previous records, but it is more convincing and emphatic. This gives a whole new dimension in the weight of the band’s sound, already enriched with the heaviness of their low tuning and their special talent to summon melodies in the name of the cold and the dark. There are more dissonant chords than before melted in and between their riffs, and I feel a slight black metal influence in some other riffs here and there, especially because of the preference of using a chord-like stroke in the strings rather than the usual insanely fast tremolo palm muted picking they are known for. There are some slower heavy breakdowns too, where this elements start giving the band’s music a more abstract sense, because of the “abruptly interrupted” nature of the riffs, timed strangely. The slow drum beats also helps in the development of this feel, giving a nervous, tense and unpredictable shape to their hymns.
These differences in riffing are not present in every second of the album, which also features the usual fast and aggressive parade of pummeling metal of death Immolation never forgets. This album is an example of a band that has evolved in every effort but never forgets their roots, raw and evil death metal. Their new sense of measuring the song’s beat and emotions in a deeper and more meaningful way with more perspective in composition, is a testimony of that matter.
HanSathanas on May 22nd, 2012
Failures I See Not
There’s not so much of a failure to be found on this record. Immolation have been quite competent in delivering death metal their way. I do however understand why some people tend to dismiss this album as boring; the production has a lot to do with it.
Unlike Deicide or any other self – proclaimed satanic bands, Ross Dolan and co. have fore fronted the scene with their unparalleled dexterity. Such ability can be observed on this album. The first opening kicks off with a low rumbling sound, possibly of terrestrial origin. It then bifurcates the Earth in two, splitting the ground on which we stand. Once Ordained is just perfect in its own right. This song has some of the most memorable repetitive verses ‘You will all be fooled...’ ‘When He reveals himself...’ Despite the overall bone dry sound, the production has given this particular song a sense of foreboding malevolence. A kind of fist in your face if you will. The same goes with No Jesus, No Beast. Alex Hernandez did a great job with his drumming style. Had I not read about the lineup, I would have probably thought that Craig Smilowski was still playing in the band. Instead of using sporadic blast beats, Hernandez is concentrating his pummeling to follow in lines with the rhythm guitars. This practice makes the output sounds more interesting regardless of its overly accented double bass drums. You can imagine the cymbals have this thick dust from pulverised bones sprinkled all over the band while they are recording this album.
The album title track is just another awesome song. Its cover artwork befits the story of the latter, of how human tends to become so subservient to authority not just God, but one of our own. This deliberate serfdom makes mankind no better than the beasts that roamed the Earth, ready to perform anything at the behest of those in power above us. The opening verses are nevertheless symbolic of what is going on in our world today and something that I really loved to contemplate at:
‘Have faith in their words
from your weakness they are born’
Basically, one knows that Ross Dolan has always been capable of writing great, insightful lyrics as compared to most other bands who simply glorify Satan the Hollywood style. I believed the band hinted on a feather of politics with this particular song even before they recorded Harnessing Ruin. Perhaps we can call this as a prophecy of what’s to come in the band’s effort for the next few years. Just listen to how Dolan vocals actually shaped the music; it’s like a giant slab of concrete going to crush you in seconds. His growls are nothing short of pure evil, like someone who is ready to devour you alive. Instead of going high pitched, Dolan vocals stayed the same, probably even deeper from when he first started with Immolation. A fact that given this band a plus, considering that some death metal singers get more and more loud over time. Furthermore, it is quite amazing to find a person who is able to sing with total conviction, a man who actually believes in what he says. That is Ross Dolan, folks. And that’s what made Immolation exceptional in the arena.
Come Unsaved, Immolation struck the chord once again with brooding mid paced. Overall, the guitars on this release are still pleasantly audible. The solos? Well, the solos are never out of place. They are as dissonant as the rhythms. This is clearly exemplified in my favourite track Stench of High Heaven. The vocals carry the track like a vessel afloat on an ocean of riffs. Then comes a break at 01:11. Yet another memorable part on this song alone provided you have listened to this album time and time again. At around 02:13, another breakdown takes over and this time the double bass really does a great job at that. Wait; there is more, Immolation have some more interesting riffs before the song ends. The amazement segues into Your Angel Died, another personal favourite what with its flesh ripping intro. Once again Alex Hernandez displayed his rich vocabulary of drum fills, creating yet another varied pattern alternating between the foot pedal, snare, toms and the bell ride. This part is especially observable beginning from 01:33 into the song. It’s just awesome to hear such a creative style put to good use without overdoing what has already been done perfectly. The Devil I Know puts the album to rest but not before delivering one final blow to your head. This track contains some of the band’s signature performance; rhythm – driven repetitive parts and sufficient breaks in between before launching barrages of death metal artillery shells. Never too disappointing, the song has some decent solos that are played in short burst, short enough that they stick in your head for years to come. Utilising yet another majestically diabolical solo endemic to Immolation song writing, this track slowly creeps like a 30 – feet – hungry crocodile in search of live preys. Here, the style is clearly reminiscent of Those Left Behind and Christ’s Cage, and later appeared fully crafted as an eight – minute – monstrosity Close to a World Below. Immolation really have knack for employing such weapons of mass destruction in their songs and they are of course very effective in keeping me interested throughout the course.
Well, what can I say more? This is a great album in my opinion. Don’t let that gritty production kill your interest. They are one of, if not the greatest death metal bands out there. Even to this time, their style and music remained consistent albeit slightly watered down with Majesty and Decay. Trust me, if you are not fond of Immolation’s music then don’t even bother to call yourself a metalhead! Period.
enshinkarateman on February 12th, 2010
No "Failures" Here!
Immolation are a name that commands respect in the death metal scene, banging out continuously solid music for close to twenty-five years now (if we count the demo days), and are one of the most intense live bands I've ever seen. I picked up their 1999 album "Failures for Gods" for five dollars (what a bargain!) about a year ago and have decided it's time to review it. And upon listening to it, I can safely say that this is an absolute beast of an album and is perfectly representative of death metal as a whole. In short, this album slays!
The music is technical without falling into wankery, and brutal without being unlistenable. Immolation, along with fellow New York death metal masters Suffocation were pioneers of this style, and to this day they have yet to be surpassed in terms of quality. Sure, there's bands that can play scales and blast faster, not nobody cares about those bands because their songwriting skills are lacking. Not to imply that Immolation are unskilled at their instruments, as everyone in the band brings proficiency to the table. All the songs run from four to six minutes, but they never drag on due to the sheer number of riffs and tempo changes present. Amazingly, the changes are never jarring and flow evenly from one to the next. That takes some serious songwriting talent to do that in this kind of music, and Immolation have it in spades.
The best song on the album is undoubtedly "No Jesus, No Beast", which is just about as catchy as you can get in death metal, and the chorus riff is so pit-friendly that whenever it comes on, I find myself wanting to slam into the first object I can find, whether it's a street sign, a city bus or an elderly woman. The power of this song should not be underestimated, and the only other song that comes close is "Unsaved", which starts off with a monstrous breakdown. Fear not, these aren't Suicide Silence single note chugs, but are rather slow and powerful riffs that will have you listening to the song over and over just to hear the intro. When I say these two songs may be the best on the album, that's not to take away from the quality of the rest of "Failures for Gods", which is consistent in terms of quality and overall songwriting, although there are a few surprises thrown in to prevent the album from being monotonous, like the clean break in the title track.
The production seems to have gathered complaints over the years, but for some reason, I find that it adds an unusually raw edge to the music. Sure, to some, the double-bass sound may be distracting, and in most cases, I would agree, but for some reason, it serves the music quite well, and in any case I find the guitar tone to be so massive that the listener should be able to focus on it while accepting the drum sound as a minor flaw. The vocals are mixed perfectly, and Ross's voice sounds better than ever, and even after years of snarling and growling, he's managed to retain his edge to deliver a great performance, and that goes for the rest of the band as well.
"Failures for Gods" is packed to the gills with nothing but superb old-school death metal and should hold a place in every metal fan's collection. In the extreme metal world, the are near-unrivaled in terms of consistency of their music and should be acknowledged as such. You can't afford to not pick up this album, or to go see them live if they come to your town. In either case, you won't be disappointed, and if you are, maybe you just don't like death metal.
Highlights: "No Jesus, No Beast", "Unsaved", "Failures for Gods"
NOTE: This review was originally written for http://lavidastrangiato.blogspot.com/
Immolationed on April 8th, 2007
Dark & powerful release from the greatest NYDM act
To start the review by saying that I agree with lot of people that the sound is not the best possible, but I don't agree that it's horrible/boring, vice versa. When I listen to this album I get the feeling of something sinister and dark. On some places the production does it's job perfectly, creating the mood for the album. But on some places, it dries out some of the instruments. Personally, I would have loved to hear the bass much more. The biggest complaiment I have is the drums, the bassdrums are too much in the spotlight, and the sound isn't the best I have to say.
On this album, Alex Hernandez makes his first appereance in Immolation, and does one hell-of-a-job. More technical than Craig Smilowski, but doesn't go over the line with it. Ross's vocals are always a joy, they are low and you can understand what he say's. And to the guitar section. Bob and Thomas make an fantastic job, creating turbulence of darkness with the riffs and solo's. Bob's solo's are technical, melodic (but not in the gay-way, if you think like that) and they always hit the spot. And the lyrics are not the same masslyrics you hear from death-metal bands talking about Satan, gore and so on. They are atheistic lyrics, and they truly make you think about the world of these days. The lyrics challenge's religions and that they pretty much dont have any room in this world. But as I said, they are not: Fuck Christ, destroy heaven, blaa blaa. They have lot's of thought behind them.
I would recommend this album to people into the NYDM scene (Suffocation, Mortician, etc.) and basically people into brutal death-metal, technical death-metal and death metal in general. I recommend that you buy this album, you wont be dissapointed.
mmk11426 on February 1st, 2006
Symphonies of madness...
New York Death Metal pioneers Immolation release an interesting album here. Although the previous reviews tend to label this as boring and complain about the production, I believe the point is being entirely missed. What this album is all about is composition.
Much like a classical musician incorporates several different movements into their peice, Immolation similarly creat a metal symphony. Each track starts off at a point and gradually drifts to a different mood with time changes, atmospheric changes, and varying speeds/intensities. Stylistically, this is still the same percussive-centered, soaring lead, blasting new york style of death metal, but done in a more intelligent manner. Each song spends time developing multiple well-thought out riffs while drums constantly rain down fills, and cymbals. Vocals emphasize short, powerful spurts that have an edge, while still maintaining trademark anti-religious lyrics.
Production is very good for this type of album. The low, sometimes distant sound gives a very destructive, and evil atmosphere. Speeds are constantly varied and dmenad listener's attention. Moments can range from slow, sludgy riffs to pounding snare and solo combinations. Very technical from all aspects, but technicality that does, imho, serve a purpose, just as a composer would rely on intricate movements and measures of notes. These days it seems like everyone is clamering for the most "brootal" music, but this is not one of those albums. You catch something new with every listen and will not be dissapointed from a musical standpoint.
emperorjvl on November 8th, 2005
A good album buried in bad sound...
Immolation's third full-length was a disappointment to many fans. This was due, in large part, to the horrible sound. The album suffered from lack of treble all around, most noticeable on guitars and cymbals. The guitars were too grainy and thick and the sound as a whole sounded compressed. The bass drums had a flat, "uninflated basketball" sound. All this was a shame, as there were some excellent songs on this release. Immolation's complicated groove sound was fully developed here, and the songwriting on this album was a precursor to what many consider to be their best album, "Unholy Cult".
For those not on the know, Immolation play a complicated brand of death metal, that relies on a unique mixing of riffs and squealing guitars, drum patterns galore and the comfortably despondent growl of Rob Dolan. Never the fastest band, Immolation's singular talent lay in crafting songs that transmit pure ANGER. In this they succeeded even in this album. Opener "Once Ordained" is a good song, but has a weird chorus section that seems not to fit with the rest of the song. But then, "No Jesus, No beast", "Failures for Gods" and "Unsaved" pound the listener with hateful riffing and full drumming. "Failures for Gods" in particular is truly an epic song, a death metal masterpiece. "God made Filth" and "Stench of High Heaven" pale in comparison, not unlistenable but definitely not outstanding material. "Your Angel Died" picks up the pace again, having fast verse parts and slower bridge/solo and chorus sections. "The Devil I Know" ends the album on a doomy note. It starts with riffing reminiscent of "Christ's Cage" from their previous album, slow and powerful, then goes to some faster and midpaced parts, in the solo and ending verse sections. Then, the final doomy fade, repeating a refrain again and again...until the end.
All in all, this album could have been just a minor letdown, were it not for the bad sound. Thankfully, Immolation fixed this went on to make the incredible "Close to a World Below" and "Unholy Cult", before again dropping the ball with "Harnessing Ruin".
For Immolation fans, this scores an 85. For others, I'd say around 78.