Shadows in the Light reviews
psychosisholocausto on February 23rd, 2013
A great effort from some death metal veterans
Death metal is, for the most part, a very underground style of music, with very few bands achieving any real exposure. This is for a number of reasons, being either too fast, too ridiculously heavy, the vocals are often too low, or the songs are too obscurely structured for many people who listen to even bands such as Iron Maiden to truly understand and enjoy. Due to this, only more commercially oriented bands such as Obituary, with simplistic instrumentals, or shocking bands such as Cannibal Corpse truly make their way through their music. However, every once in a blue moon, a band that boasts neither the commercial side nor the absolutely vile shock tactics manages to find a following and make their way off their music.
One such band to achieve a little exposure is Immolation, a band that combines complex drumming with two dueling guitarists that rely on dissonant harmonics. Starting out as an anti-religion band, the band made their shift into more political lyrics, and since has not changed. To date, they have recorded 8 studio albums, released a DVD, two EP's, and one compilation, and have shifted through nine members, releasing one of their finest releases in 2007, Shadows In The Light. This showcases very well the bands sound, being an exceedingly heavy release, that does not need to progress through its songs at 600 beats per minute to set the standard.
The first thing to be noted on this album is that, whilst it is not particularly as technical as their previous releases, the riffs on it are extremely well thought out, and there are not very many band out there that can record riffs like these. The atmosphere throughout the release is extremely creepy, with founding member Robert Vigna undoubtedly being one of the most intelligent guitarists of all time. The title track is a good example, with many solos throughout, but the riffs still taking centre stage. The riffs change so frequently and in such a different way that this almost feels like a progressive release, but each and every one of them flows perfectly into the next one, so that this release is best listened to all in one go, or the listener will not understand it at all.
Deliverer Of Evil is my personal favourite song off of this release, with some dark lyrics and a truly crushing sound to it unmatched by many of the supposed "brutal" death metal bands out there. "Gave you power, gave you control, fail the people and you will fall" is one particularly well written line, that is completely relatable for every human being alive who lives in a country that has leaders that seek only to further their own legacy instead of doing what is best for the country. This form of political song writing is far more effective than their earlier anti-Christian lyrics ever could be, and they are delivered perfectly by vocalist Ross Dolan. The guitar riff during this particular line is certainly one of the best the band has ever written, as well, completing an amazing song.
Dolan is somewhat an unsung hero in the death metal world, frequently being left out of debates about the finest death metal vocalists, and i never understand. He has been in the business now for over 20 years, and consistently puts in solid performances, whilst putting in a very tight bass performance as well. He is not as low as bands like Suffocation or Mortician, but is certainly low enough, and is completely intelligeble, which goes that extra way for a death metal vocalist.
Lying With Demons is another very good song, that has some rather complex drum patterns, and also shows off the intechanging guitarists. In one stereo speaker, one plays, and then the other plays in the other, before they play together to begin with, which really is a nice touch, and is somewhat unique. Immolation truly is a band like no other, and Steve Shalaty puts on a good show throughout this, going fast when necessary, but never laying down simple drum performances, and always keeping a solid groove.
However, there are a few faults that need to be addressed. First and foremost, the production on this release is somewhat underwhelming, feeling flat at times, with everything mashing together into just one wall of sound at times. It is not the worst production job out there, but it is by no means the best, and is very weak for a band signed to a high profile metal record label.
The other major weakness is that the band has set the bar too high on albums such as Unholy Cult for this to really stand up to. When pressed against some of their other albums in their discography, this is somewhat weaker than those albums. It is tight enough in its own right, but has nothing on that particular album. A band should get better with age, but this was a step down in many ways.
My other criticism is that the band appeared to have gone a lot lighter guitar wise. The riffs are not as highly technical nor as well written as past releases in some sections. The guitars are very good here, but i feel like the band held back something throughout this release. Other than the vocals and drums, everything feels slightly more restrained than past releases, as though the band were just looking for new fans and not staying true to themselves which is disappointing for a band of Immolation's status.
In particular, Whispering Death is flawed. The song starts with a nice, atmosphere building section to begin with, that gives a real evil feel to it, but at the same time a regretful sound, that almost reminds me of some of Slayer's Hell Awaits, but without losing any heaviness nor power. But, as the song progresses and gets more and more drawn out, the cracks really start to show, with it just feeling needlessly heavy, and an attempt to be faster than many of the songs on the album, and the riffs are not quite as tight as those found on other songs. At times, it slows down and gives off more of an atmospheric side to it, which really does not work in my opinion, and the solo at around 3:10 is the only thing that saves this song at all. This is the real low point, not only of this album, but also of the band's discography.
This album is, for the most part, an extremely tight death metal release, but it is definitely a step down for the New York boys. The lyrics, drumming, vocals and many of the riffs themselves are great, but it feels too restrained to me, and generally just underwhelming. The good points of the album are undeniably flawless, but in particular Whispering Death feels like a needless attempt to both speed up and have more atmospheric sections, which really does not fit the album at all.
6CORPSE6GRINDER6 on October 22nd, 2012
Their second most savage and fierce.
“Close to a World Below” is the band’s fastest and most ambitious record, with a battering sound that threats to demolish everything in his path. The drums are set loud enough to emphasize on the accelerated violence of the music rather than its dark and evil side, carefully done without drowning the strings. “Shadows in the Light” is an attempt to go back to that reckless brutality; with the polished sound they gained on “Unholy Cult”. The result is satisfactory, this album is a turmoil of asphyxiating darkness and agitation. It is turbulent but also meticulous with the melodies and sometimes unpredictable, armed with odd timings and tempo changes that won’t necessarily dictate you how to headbang to it. If you want “squared” music you should pick some noisy grind instead.
“Shadows in the Light” it’s heavier than its last couple of predecessors but it doesn’t stand out just for the destructive riffs, their sinful nature is latent at any moment, this is one of Immolation’s darkest works too. Song structures dwell between occasional heavy breakdowns with high pinched harmonics and drumbeats thought to go along with the riffs. Fast and full of anomalies but most of all frantic and malevolent riffs accompanied by relentless blast beats are present too, and so are those dense guitar melodies whose only purpose is to push fear and despair into the heart of men. The gifted soloing this couple of guitarists display is always worthy of a mention, in this offer solos are delivered accurately and sharp with psychotic precision and lead changes between them several times. After so many years of dealing with high quality death metal I can’t see this band recording a bad album… They have been constant and loyal to the genre’s pillars of evil and brutality but at the same time have always been trying to write more elaborated music album after album.
This album principal theme is that those decorative and almost doom passages are used often, “Shadows in the Light” main dish is Immolation’s classic belligerent and blistering trademark riffs. Of all the albums that follow “Unholy Cult” this is their most angry record. It also fits the “new” neat and organized sound they coined from that album perfectly, it kind of put things in order. Drumming has been one of Immolation’s strongest points now that riffs aren’t 100% of the time as complicated as they were in their first decade of breeding NYDM. It’s fucking meteoric, blastbeats when they need to speed up things a little and punishing double bass drums for the slower and heavier riffs. The cymbal work this cunt pulls out on every record is the finest on Immolation, take for example the break in the middle of “Shadows in the Light” and how he closes the hi hat unexpectedly in between his patterns, the guy sure knows what he is doing and he’s a fucking beast, even better than former member Alex Hernández I dare to say. Vigna and Taylor dynamic duet on the 6 strings has now a more solid body since the distortion they discovered on “Unholy Cult”, another highlight to the band’s sound. Ross Dolan’s vocals seem to be timeless, his diaphragm isn’t aging and his growls are as deep and crackling as the first day, his hatred for the Judeo-Christian beliefs hasn’t diminished with the years I guess, he really means what the yells. In fact, as recording tools go more and more advanced we can hear with more fidelity his vocal prowess. His bass guitar is again below the layer of guitar tracks in the mix, you can’t hear it individually so well but unlike in their first records, you can at least feel it and hear how it gives more weight to the recording overall.
televiper11 on May 17th, 2012
Shadows In The Light is veteran NYDM merchants Immolation seventh album. Following on the heels of Harnassing Ruin's mixed response, the band gets back down to business, pedaling ten tracks of relatively straight-forward NYDM. The hallmarks of the band's aggression are in fine fettle: high-strung riffs of some technical complexity and darkened texture unfurling over an abrasively hammering rhythm section. Rob Vigna brings his usual pinch-harmonic accents and soloing prowess even more to the fore. And Ross Dolan drops easily into his abysmal vocal register. It's everything you'd expect from a tightened up Immolation, though the songwriting doesn't completely meet expectations.
Highlights include the brooding "World Agony" with its martial drum beat and simple headbangable riffage. Again, Immolation knows how to stick the hooks in as the riffs throughout are memorable and the chorus is perfect for in-concert gang shouts. "Lying With Demons" is absolutely brutal. Harkening back to the earliest Immolation records, it delivers a pulverizing lesson in knotty aggression. Few bands can pitch this balance as perfectly as Immolation. It's almost ridiculous how catchy material this complicated can be. They also know how to slow the tempo down, hitting a weird off-kilter Prong vibe around the 90 second mark and going back to it with variations throughout. "Passion Kill" is another monster with a great chorus and lots of tornado riffs piling up and swirling around. When it comes to great textured riffs and solos, Rob Vigna really delivers. I particularly love the atmospheric closer -- "Whispering Death" has a tremendous build, is suffused with tension, and features incredibly dissonant guitar figures tracing around the latticework.
Unlike other Immolation records, Shadows In The Light doesn't display an overall unity of conception, coming across more like a collection of songs than a complete singular vision. Some tracks like "Tarnished" and "Deliverer Of Evil" feel slightly unfinished, sluggish even. "The Weight Of Devotion" has an amazing opening riff but they abandon it quickly, leaving it stranded and the rest of the song kinda drags behind the weight of unfulfilled expectations. A sort of sameness also creeps over the middle of this record, diminishing the impact of tracks that are more solid than they sound. Part of this problem falls squarely on the shoulders of the production.Shadows In The Light has an absolutely shitty production job that totally enervates these tunes. Tonally speaking, this record sounds horrifically flat and brittle. The guitars have no heft whatsoever. The riffs are just bled dry, devoid of all heaviness. And the drums... what-the-fuck happened to the drums? They sound like wet cardboard, just sodden and murky and powerless. I hate the way this record sounds. I almost never crank it up because it angers me how bad it sounds. These poor songs are almost completely undone by this production job. The best tracks can surmount it but the more average ones simply cannot. Thankfully these errors are almost entirely mitigated on follow-up Majesty And Decay. But Shadows In The Light is yet another in a string of good-to-great Immolation albums suffering from botched production.
Five_Nails on May 22nd, 2011
Textbook Death Metal Yet Still a Musical Triumph
Crush is probably the best way to describe Immolation’s sound. Rhythm and bass guitars join double bass drums to create a chest imploding rhythmic low end deviated by snare and cymbal use and laden with progressively intensifying blast beats. Barbarically simple in its slow four count breakdown beats exemplified by intricate rising and growing guitar leads and twisted rhythms, Immolation pummels the essence of demise into their decimating sound and revels in the subtle simplicity of their chaotic instrumentation. “Shadows in the Light” is this New York death metal outfit’s seventh full-length and displays not only a vicious consistency of style, but a culmination of Immolation’s aims that was years in the making and has resulted in some of the greatest death metal I have ever heard.
Immolation’s style brings a twisted sound in their juxtaposing builds that actually breakdown and decay their rhythms through repetition while adding instruments and rhythms to the overall sound during tension building progressions. Especially present in the title track’s cymbal build into the repetitious treble crush and the ripping riffing rhythm of “Lying with Demons”, each member of the band brings ominous layers of instrumentation that aggressively hammer home the common structure yet astutely build into their own vibrant contributions. While seemingly intricate and unapproachable on the first few listens, the simplicity of each common rhythm delivers a strong hook to help these added instruments increase the thundering pressure of each musical structure the band builds. Harmonizing through their bass oriented sound, treble highs like the rhythm riffing of “The Weight of Devotion”, “Breathing the Dark”, and “Passion Kill” also juxtapose the slow pacing of riffs strongly with the increasing speed of the drums that crescendo at times into sounds reminiscent of the titanic grandeur of Celtic Frosts’ “Monotheist” weighed down by Suffocation’s hardcore-laced New York death metal influence.
With a precise, rapid, and percussively magnanimous abundance of notes, Steve Shalaty’s drumming is a chaotic fury striving to do bewildering death metal justice to the guitars’ rhythms in “Breathing the Dark”, driving the percussive and unforgiving direction of the band’s aggressive atmosphere in “Tarnished”, and at times creates amorphous and hyperbolic rhythmic representations of the common hook as in “Passion Kill” or “Deliverer of Evil”. In such a straightforward style as Immolation’s, drum fills are key in creating standout cycles and Shalaty pulls off many with fluid changes that rise and fall through each tone of his drum kit or, in marching fashion, round out rhythms with great snare fills and devastating blast beating propulsions of riffs. Joined by the crushing bass sound from Ross Dolan that harmonizes with the guitars’ drops and forces breaks into the abyss, the low end of Immolation’s violent symphony offers earth-shattering legs to support their primeval top end with a larger-than-life sound that perfects the band’s ambition.
While aggressive simplicity typifies the band’s catchiest and most accessible moments, the openings to “Passion Kill” and “Tarnished”, and the guitars closing “Whispering Death” also showcase how Immolation’s style can open in a seemingly reasonless sound and decay into something more understandable. Though aesthetically awkward at first, this combination comes together in amazing fashion to become both an unsettling and an inspiring sound that has come to define some of the most standout qualities of New York death metal style. Canada’s Cryptopsy gives another viewpoint of this style by taking a sound and making it increasingly unapproachable, but Immolation’s top-down approach seems to have not only made it even easier to discern a sound thrown at the listener and decayed into its simplest aspects but also seems to have taken in stride the influence of hardcore on metal that has encouraged a debate on the role of punk and hardcore in a style that has stayed strongly opposed to hangers-on in deathcore and against the elements that have watered down modern mainstream metal and hard rock. Though deathcore and other more mainstream styles have taken and broken this formula, Immolation’s consistency makes and breaks riffs in a strong linear scope that ensures repetition moves structures into further progressions rather than solely brings them back to square one to be done over again the exact same way. Multi-layered breakdowns aren’t present here trying to take low sounds and artificially lower them into further “br00tality”, but instead breakdowns maintain their relevance as counters to choruses or particularly intense rises in textbook demonstration of the power of an instrumentally focused band without prima donnas and theatrics mucking up their intended straightforward style.
Lyrically and thematically, Immolation has translated their songwriting intricacy falling into simplicity well with strong challenges of religion decaying into a chant in “Passion Kill”, or bringing a chorus to progress the plot in “Breathing the Dark”. Vocals are deep growls but still rather understandable though at times covered by the overwhelming instrumental assault. There are no high notes present, but that doesn’t take anything away from the consistently strong vocal delivery or the malice expressed in “Hate’s Plague” or the anger of “World Agony”.
Immolation’s “Shadows in the Light” has quickly become one of my favorite death metal albums as one of the strongest examples of not only a solid and consistent delivery of well-written and passionate music, but the near perfection of a pummeling barbaric style uplifted by instrumental intricacy while ensuring stabilization in their bare bones template.
Ad_van_den_Boom on June 27th, 2009
Confirming that Immolation is (still) the best.
Yesterday – June 25th 2009 – the ‘king of pop’ died. Also yesterday the kings of death metal played an awesome gig in club Vera at Groningen, the Netherlands. The crowd was being remembered once more that Immolation is still alive and kicking; and kicking HARD.
The audience reflected the polarization that has gradually formed in the ideas and tastes of death metal hordes worldwide: the 30-plus ‘veterans’ largely outnumbered the 16 year old metalcore kids at this event and people may argue that Immolation has to be considered as an ‘aged’ band. Some of the teenagers however sported Kreator ‘Pleasure to kill’ shirts by example and went out of their fucking heads just as much as the longhaired, massively headbanging ‘elderly’ people. When after a crushing 70 minutes set list the godly Immolation climbed the stage once more to treat the midlife metal heads to ‘Dawn of possession’, the Immolation-family (as Ross Dolan calls it paternally) re-united forces and the abundantly sweating crowd together with the youngsters of french label mates Gorod downstage – who opened the show perfectly for Immolation – even established a classic mosh pit, a rarity these days. What happened to the stage diving generation by the way; they probably produced children and show responsible parental behavior… and tell their offspring NOT to stage dive at shows of their favorite nu-metal bands, because it is really dangerous!
This gap between people who still consider Morbid Angel and Immolation as co-founders and innovators of the genre, and 16-year-olds who were not even born yet when Immolation started their “20 years of burning chaos” has, by natural evolution, widened to an abyss. Thus it makes perfectly sense that some of the 16-year-olds indeed do not understand the intrinsic value of bands like Immolation – and for that matter Repulsion – and disqualify their classic albums as pathetic and weak. A new generation has come to life and so with them new heroes.
So Darwin’s laws also apply to death metal. Luckily for the Immolation-family their base is the MIGHTIEST on earth. The broad, strong stem of the Immolation-tree-of-brotherhood even sprouts some new branches once in a while. Yesterday Dolan announced that Immolation will move from Listenable to Nuclear Blast: a new album will be recorded this autumn and released at the beginning of 2010. That means new blood again in the veins of death metal and definitely some new youngsters will be enlightened by the coming darkness. What to say then about the current album ‘Shadows in the Light’?
Shadows in the light shows Immolation returning somewhat to the glory of ‘Close to a world below’ and ‘Unholy cult’. The flirting with slightly more accessible song structures of ‘Harnessing ruin’ has been swept away with pitch-dark, heavy death metal full of emotion. Immolation are the masters of death metal not because they are the fastest, neither because they are the most technical or most innovative; they are the true kings of death metal because their songs are unparalleled in black, evocative POWER. The combination of Dolan’s deep vocals and Vigna's very own complex riffing and soloing is phenomenal. Of course Immolation tracks follow the same pattern quite often, but one cannot find two songs on their seven studio albums that do not really differ from each other (try Cannibal Corpse on this litmus test).
‘Hate’s plague’ is a very gripping opener. From the very first riff and chords the plague “rises and takes shape through fear” and Immolation brings the listener indeed the bloodshed it so desires. It’s a short track for Immolation standards and changes without hesitation into the second song ‘Passion kill’ which bears some traces of the ‘Harnessing ruin’ concept: it’s very pounding and commanding. This is what headbangers crave for and makes them smash their heads into fucking concrete! The lyrics of ‘Passion kill’ are enchanting and one just wants to scream with Dolan “God will embrace you, god will raise you, god will comfort you, god will save you!” and then, counterbalancing: “God will punish you, god will torture you, god will silence you, god will destroy you!”
Track 3 ‘World agony’ is a classic already and will probably remain on Immolations set list for quite some years to come. ‘Tarnished’ (track 4) seems a bit less standing out at first, but when listening well, some new, very short, guitar effects at the end of the chorus give the song a very dark and bleak feeling. These string-abusements tar your soul indeed. A very compelling song, just like the final six tracks; judge for yourself.
Steve Shalaty (drums) proves for the second time to be a worthy replacement of Alex Hernandez. Go witness Immolation live on stage and the craftsmanship of these four guys is immediate and undisputable. This album deserves 95 points at least. Personal favorites remain ‘Close to a world below’ and ‘Dawn of possession’ but the last 5 points are added for GREATNESS. Thank you, Immolation. For bonding us metal hordes, for advancing the troops and most of all: for always being on the road to LEAD us into darkness.
Kruel on November 9th, 2008
Confirming that they've lost it
Immolation is often considered to be a very consistent band, but that is really not true at all. It is almost impossible to tell that this is the same band that wrote Here in After and Failures for Gods, let alone Dawn of Possession, just by listening to this album. And the reason for this is not just a stylistic issue; the drop in quality itself is glaringly obvious. Shadows in the Light is possibly the nadir of Immolation's career.
Production is inorganic and somewhat mechanical like Close to A World Below, but worse. The guitar tone is fucking wimpish and frustrating, except for when the leads are being played, in which case it is annoyingly loud, and the slightly tin can-like drums don¡¯t help, either. There is no sense of darkness or evil vibe given from this production. It even lacks any heaviness, superficial or otherwise. However, production is far from being the biggest flaw on this album.
It seems like Immolation tried to out-solo both Altars of Madness and Rust in Peace. It feels like half the album is consisting of guitar solos, and there are also a bunch of leads that are not solos, so they almost succeed in terms of quantity. Unfortunately, that is not true of quality. The solos on this album lack both the morbidity of Altars of Madness' solos or the beauty of Rust in Peace's (not that having beautiful solos in this type of death metal album is exactly an option to begin with, but at least in that case the solos would have provided some enjoyment, no matter how big the disparity between them and the rest of the music is). Unlike early Immolation, which used guitar solos as an effective compositional device by playing solos that were important in the overall flow of the song as well as being coherently structured in themselves, this new Immolation (it is tempting to say "nu," but that would be a bit too far-fetched) plays leads because, well... to show off their technical skills? While that hypothesis is very implausible since you can always affirm your technical ability with one well-done flashy solo, it really does seem to be the correct one because every other possible motivation for abusing guitar leads is invalid here: the leads don't contribute anything to the flow of the songs (not that there is any flow to the songs to begin with, but the leads still make them more irritating and directionless), and they don't sound good in themselves (they are just shredding and dissonance-ridden yet too bright, with no build-up, climax, or resolution). Wait, I can think of one reason: to bury the riffs. Even this hypothesis is not entirely immune to criticism due to the irritating nature of the solos, which makes one question how anybody would want to bring such abominations up to the surface, but the riffs certainly suggest that this was a likely motivation for abusing the leads. And after all, the leads do succeed at burying the riffs.
Unfortunately, the leads fail to bury the riffs that are not being played simultaneously with them. The riffs suit the frustrating and wimpish guitar tone very well, for the same adjectives apply to the riffs. But that is not all -- another adjective, annoying, is added. Riffs are mostly semi-technical or chugging, with several tremolo-picked, and none of them ever bring any sense of atmosphere or emotion. And the worst part is... pinch harmonics. Ever since Here in After, Immolation made extensive use of pinch harmonics, but here, they just take it too far. The fundamental difference between Here in After or Failures for Gods and this album is this: in the former, pinch harmonics were used for the riffs; in the latter, riffs are written for pinch harmonics. Perhaps they were already being too liberal with pinch harmonics in Here in After, but in that album for most riffs you would think "well, that riff would have been a bit awkward without that pinch harmonic there; good decision," but when listening to Shadows in the Light, what you think is "fuck, I wish they don't use more than three squealed notes in the next riff." It's that excessive, and otherwise mediocre-to-sub-par but inoffensive riffs are turned into ear-tortures. With such dysfunctional individual riffs, it is practically impossible to arrange them correctly. If you are trying to build some structure with lego blocks but each block is distorted, then no matter what you do they don't fit together. That is exactly what is happening on this album. And of course, as was mentioned above, the leads break in every now and then to further disparage the structure of the songs.
There is nothing enjoyable for me in this album; but apparently, a lot of people do enjoy it, so I guess that is "a matter of taste." However, there is one thing I can say with a fair amount of objectivity: despite all the dissonance, this album lacks the darkness, morbidity, and the "graveyard essence" of old school death metal that made up early Immolation. So, if you think those qualities are more or less essential in death metal stay away from Shadows in the Light.
MetalHead1200 on September 21st, 2008
Immolation's best? IMO, yes
Immolation have an excellent track record of being one of the most consistent, original, and flat out best death metal bands of all time. This album has in no way tarnished their record. Put simply, this record is stunning. Finding flaws in this is impossible for me. Every track stands out, every track is as amazing as the other. Now that I'm done with all my praise, let's get to the review:
The production is some of the best I've heard. The bass is fully audible, which is good because the bass lines are excellent. Every instruments volume is perfect, and the whole album creates a dark and sinister atmosphere, as with any Immolation release. Except the production on this is considerably clearer than others. This may be a let down to death metal fans who only like the "underground" sort of sound, but I adore the production on this album.
The riffing is the absolute best I've heard to date. No filler riffs here. Every riff is catchy, well thought out, and technical. The melodies, as with everything Immolation, are so original. I really don't understand how a human being could think up the amazing riffs and melodies on this album.
The drumming here is also excellent. Steve Shalaty utilizes blast beats, double bass, and other techniques while at the same time never overusing any of these. Shalaty definitely deserves more respect from the metal community.
Ross Dolan has always been my favorite death vocalist, ever since I heard Immolation for the first time. His growls are so evil yet you can understand everything he says. The lyrics range from anti-religion to society, and are excellent. All of Immolation's works have had impressive lyrics in my opinion.
Anyway, this is one of my favorite if not my favorite album of all time. If you consider yourself a fan of death metal, GET IT!!!! You will not be disappointed, trust me.
SilenceIsConsent on June 17th, 2008
As is the case with a few bands such as Blind Guardian, Iced Earth, and even Metallica, Immolation was one of those bands I claimed to like without actually listening to them (yeah so bad I know). It wasn't until recently, when I actually got to see the band live that I got to hear how good they were. After that, I was hell bent on listening to some Immolation. Like I do with most bands that people do not give me advice for, I go for the newest recording first.
Shadows in the Light is stunning. That's all I can say. It's downright stunning. It's stunning that a band can sound as unique as Immolation yet be so catchy, have so much atmosphere, have so much feeling, be so throught provoking, the list just goes on and on. Shadows in the Light is easily one of the best releases of last year, and one that I deeply regret on missing when it first came out (curse my obsession with other bands).
The first thing that instantly struck me out here was how the music is so melodic yet brutal at the same time. Really there is plenty of of melody to this stuff, yet it is so heavy. Yet somehow, it doesn't translate into "three riffs and lines then breakdown" music. Immolation take it and turn it into something that at one point will feel like you're being stabbed with a sword, hit with many shuriken, bludgeoned by a sledgehammer, shot by an automatic firearm, and then take sharpnel from a grenade many times all throughout the song. While it's not that progressive, it's still amazing that the band can make it this kind of heavy while making it so unmonotonous and catchy without doing anything in the realm of the metalcore garbage passed off as death metal (Rose Funeral anyone?).
Sure, it's not that rigid and as much of a blast-a-thon as Immolation's earlier material and there are plenty of more groove laden numbers here, but that's alright. It really helps to break up the monotony and the groove is not totally prominent and just serves to add some melody to the music. This is think is best shown in World Agony, Passion Kill, The Weight of Devotion, and the title track. Those places show off this incorporation of more groove oriented riffs into the songs along with their tradiotinal brand of Immolation flair. I doubt this will really turn off Immolation's hardcore faithful, because there is still much of the classic Immolation sound here for the fans to like. Just take a crack at Hate's Plague, Tarnished, Deliverer of Evil, and Lying with Demons to hear that again.
They also go out of their way to make sure that the songs are easy to tell apart and all sound unique yet have all the things that die hard Immolation fans like as well as some of the newer aspects. Most bands would not even think of taking those aspects into consideration these days. That is not the case with Immolation, and they did it in a way that sound fresh, not rehashed, and very unpretentious.
I think much of this has to do with the guitar work of Bob Vigna and Bill Taylor. I have to say, the way these two guys (especially Bob) crank out guitar parts does not sound like anyone else and that is honestly great. Lots of diminished chords and odd progressions that are really unique and technical but still at the time, catchy and very heavy. For a rhythm guitarist, Bill Taylor is very good. Doing more then just fill the gap betweenm Bob and Ross, Bill is essential to making the music and does much of the riff work on his own. What I mean by this is that he is always pummeling out some awesome riff in coinjunction with Bob and it just rocks.
At the same time, I havfe really grown to like the lead guitar work of Bob Vigna. While it isn't very advanced and not the most technical stuff ever, it's unique once again. And his solos do add a lot of franticness and feeling to the music that is hard to come by in death metal circles today. They are very dark, and I mean very dark and very frantic. Lots of tremolo picking and conventional (ableit very fast) legato runs. Think of it as a more simplifed and bluesier based version of Chuck Schuldeiner, or what it would be like if BB King or Muddy Waters decided to start playing death metal while using all their blues techniques. As lame as this sounds, yo u won't think it's lame when you realize just how much it contributes to the atmosphere of the song and that's something very hard to do in my opinion. The odd progressions he also pulls out and his harmonies are also just plain great and had a very haunting, etherreal atmosphere to the music without sacrificing heaviness. Sure, lots of tremolo picking is done by Bob that people do not seem to like. But unlike others, who seem to do it just to crank out more notes, Bob does it and makes more feeling to the music.
More astonishment comes from the drum work of Steve Shalaty, who seems to be the one under attack the most from fan's afflicted by Marty Friedman's Disease. This is another metallic disease in the same family as Helloweencongitis, where some member who planned on the band's best albums is replaced by someone who may be better musically but still they give the band flak for it. Shalaty is just as great of a drummer as Alex Hernandez was, a bit more melodic and has way better skills of reservation and filling then Hernadez did. Just dig his drum work on songs like Hate's Plague, Tanished, Breathing The Dark, and Whispering Death. All the songs feature downright awesome and fast drum work that doesn't sound boring and is very nice. His drum tone is also great. While I do think it could have been a bit more pronounced, it is very acoustic like and does not cut through the mix yet is not overpowered. Hard to do as far as I have seen.
Ross makes sure that his part is done with flying colors. HIhgly guttural yet somehow clear is something I had not heard up until listening to Ross Dolan. That's hard to do, really hard to do. On top of being able to understand the guy, his vocal patterns are also very catchy. Many death metal frontmen should really pay attention to Ross, because when it comes to that he's way ahead of most of them. Truly light years ahead of many, staying traditional while doing that better then many others.
His lyrics are just as good. Don't think of them as just depictions of demons slaughtering Christians by the thousands or bad Deicide knock off lyrics. These are highly thought provoking and really will make you question just how much religion holds in store and how powerful it is over people. Passion Kill shows off greatly the many inconsitencies with religion, Tarnished shows how one's soul is rendered impure and the futile attempts to cleanse it, and Breathing the Dark shows the brutal picture of someone on the path to self destruction, evil and insanity after trying to find the existence of a god through their soul yet are unable to do such. Yet among all the anti religious rambling, Ross finds time to write about problems with the world. That's shown on World Agony in a way that is best described as short, sweet, and comes to the point. All very thought provoking stuff that can be either downright scary or enlightening depending on how you think of them.
Ross's bass playing is not too bad either. Lots of triad usage that while not being highly advanced are more then most metal bassists do these days. The problem is that his bass lines aren't very prominent and really don't seem to be heard well in the mix. Too bad, the mix should have highlighted them a bit more. For a guy doing double duty, Ross does the other part of his duty (the bass playing) very well while singing awesomely.
The album is mixed amazingly, with loads of highly organic tones with nothing really overpowreing anything else serverly, except the guitars overpowring the bass and Shalaty's drum tone a bit "pushed back" if you get what I mean. That's all I could ask for to be better though. Otherwise, it rocks.
This is easily one of the best albums of last year and definitely worth the buy. If you're new to Immolation, this is probably the best place to get into the band and I know it was for me. This is one album that any death metal fan should let slip through their fingers. Shadows in the Light is simply stunning.
babies_with_guns on May 11th, 2007
Another severe NY death metal bashing
The first time I heard Immolation, Close to a World Below, I thought it was horrible. I can't remember then what I didn't like, as I've grown to absolutely love them over the course of the years, but something didn't seem right, probably the vocals.
So, a while later I gave them another run, I think Failures For Gods, and I almost sprayed poo all over my undergarments. After that I was a convert to the church of the New York Death Metal masters (well, second to Suffocation, who were almost toppled after the release of the horrible Souls to Deny) Immolation.
The thing about the vocals that I love so much, I'm sure I'm not alone, is that they're death metal vocals, no doubt about it, but but you can understand every single world that's uttered; amazing.
So, when Shadows in the Light was leaked I checked it out; I was disappointed, not by the music itself, but the quality of the recording, but I kept in mind "it's the leaked version, the actualy CD will be light years better." So, with that in mind, yesterday, along with the new Bjork and Elliott Smith albums, I picked up Shadows in Light.
I listened to a few tracks on the ride home & loved what I heard, and sitting here now listening it's like an old friend who you're so familiar with coming to visit after a long hiatus, 2 years in this case.
Everything is the same, more or less, but this is by no means a bad thing; Immolation are a band who've crafted their sound to an absolutely flawless perfection. The solos are amazing, the drums are pummeling, relentless, as always, and the bass, whose sound I've always been a great admirer of, is as fantastic as ever.
If you're looking for some supreme, intelligent might I add - sure, they're an anti-christian band but they're not a parody of themselves like Deicide & Vital Remains, death metal pick up what's most likely to be THE best death metal album of 2007; Shadows in Light.
ozzeh on May 9th, 2007
Immolation reign supreme once again.
I previously gave Monstrosity's "Spiritual Apocalypse" the vote for my favorite album of the year, but this is one better by a considerable amount. I've always been a fan of New York style death metal in the vein of Suffocation or Immolation, and I'll put my credibility on the line in saying this is one of the best death metal releases in recent history. NYDM to me is more percussive based whereas their fellow death metallers in Florida rely on a more riff oriented approach. Immolation fuses the two genres of USDM to form a perfect equilibrium of heaviness and musicianship which also happens to contain some of the most profound guitar solos ever. This is heavy for those who appreciate heaviness as a form of self expression of the most raw and basic kind. That's not to say this is talented music, it is by far some of the most highly crafted death metal I've ever heard.
Make no mistake about it though, the production on "Shadows in the Light" is polished and impeccable. The guitar playing on this album seriously blows my mind every time and it simply never grows old. I can't complain about a single song on this album, every one is distinctive, brutal and utter genius! The first two songs set the stage for what is to come, but the beauty of this album is that it only seems to get better as it progresses. It's rare to find an album that can satisfy the listener in so many different ways. Shalaty's drumming has never been more on point and to call his rhythms conventional in any way would be a lie. Shalaty is not your typical death metal drummer, the drumming is brutal yet subdued (if that makes any sense); it features blast beats, but the sheer complexity of the percussion on this album rivals the insanely complex riffs the two guitarists spew forth but complements them as well. One of the finest drumming performances from Immolation and that is saying quite a lot.
This is a tight piece of work with a message: society is in decline and all we can do is watch, there is no hope and your god is dead. Immolation diversify their lyrics a bit (not all of the songs are anti-christian based though musically it's sure implicitly expressed) and it really helps the overall replay value of this release. I have very high standards for what I consider classic death metal but I defy you to find a better release in the last few years, or decade for that matter. A lot of death metal bands like to throw subtle or sometimes not so subtle nuances into their music. Immolation does not. This is pure death metal of the highest quality. This album flows like molten lava through the depths of Hell. Each structural transition is well thought out and each guitar riff is a fleeting stream of conciousness, mixing glorious death metal riffing with angular prowess and with a not so subtle blues feeling to the guitar solos. While many time changes are implemented and more riffs per song than you can count, this music is not progressive, just parasitic in that it crawls under your skin and sticks with you for awhile.
"Shadows in the Light" destroys any preconceptions you may have had about what death metal should sound like in the new millenium. Brilliant in execution, this album lacks any moderate flaws at all. Ross Dolan's voice sounds like he has been drinking battery acid but they are consistently comprehendable and the lyrics are excellent! Dolan's voice helps gives this album an extra dose of brutality to complement the heavy as hell music. And trust me, this music is certainly heavy as hell, and to the unitiated or apethetic listener it will most certainly sound like an annoying wall of sound. While my review may sound somewhat vague and distant the music on this release will certainly appeal to any death metal fan... and I am not talking about Gothenburg Melo-Death either.
Contemplative moments of society appear on here in abundance, though not only in the lyrics but in the music as well. There is nothing stale or rehashed on this masterpiece. Every individual riff, solo, bass line and drum pattern is executed with more precision than a sewing machine and as brutal as anything Immolation has ever done.. The riffs are catchy in a way which is memorable but not necessarily accessible. By memorable, I mean upon hearing any one of these 10 songs, you'll be able to distinguish them easily. Too often does death metal fall into the fallacy of repetition, and I'll admit Immolation may have been guilty of this flaw to some extent in the past but their latest work shows no such imperfections: every song is it's own brutal rendition of originality unrivaled by any death metal band in the world.
Vigna's guitar solos are arguably better and more original than any guitar leads or solos found on any metal recording in existence. Imagine Joe Satriani and Yngwie Malmsteen playing together in a death metal band with an emphasis on heaviness and they might be able to come up with riffs half as good as these (and that is a big maybe). The solos have a very blues inspired base and they create a very eerie atmosphere.
I have always been under the impression that the Europeans truly play the most uncompromising, skillfully crafted death metal of our time but lately I've been really appreciating American death metal for it's sheer technically executed brutality with relevant lyrics of our seemingly apocalyptic times in full force. No amount of praise is high enough for this dynamic and incredibly complex release from who can only be described as the reigning champs of death metal of all genres : Immolation. All one has to do is listen to the song "World Agony" which pretty much showcases what this album is about: musical execution of the highest order. Buy this now it might be the best death metal album you'll ever hear.
Shadows in the Light track list
|5||The Weight of Devotion||04:20|
|6||Breathing the Dark||03:59|
|7||Deliverer of Evil||03:44|
|8||Shadows in the Light||03:45|
|9||Lying with Demons||04:31|
Shadows in the Light lineup
|Ross Dolan||Bass, Vocals|