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Kingdom Of Conspiracy

Nuclear Blast (2013)
Rating: 8/10

I’ve been a fan of these New York death metallers since the arrival of their 1991 debut album Dawn Of Possession, which on vinyl has become quite a collector’s item.

Since that battering ram of a record – an era when death metal was very much the in-thing – Immolation have survived the grunge and nu-metal trends and churned out a number of albums, their 2013 effort being Kingdom Of Conspiracy.

This ten-track affair, produced by Paul Orofino, who also twiddled the knobs on a majority of Immolation albums, is, as expected, another brutal jarring of the senses. Thankfully, unlike so many other metal bands, the Immolation line-up hasn’t altered since the Unholy Cult (2002) and Harnessing Ruin (2005) period.

Bassist Ross Dolan remains a formidable vocalist of the old school variety, vomiting out those identifiable guttural growls, while behind him we’re treated to a tirade of heavy and often complex riffs and leads courtesy of Robert Vigna and Bill Taylor respectively. Elsewhere, the drums of Steve Shalaty are earth-shuddering.

Kingdom Of Conspiracy may not be blessed with the best album cover, but musically it’s as brutal as we’d have hoped. The title track rushes headlong from the blocks with a scything guitar sound and Dolan’s bellows, but the injection of a mid-paced section adds to the ominous atmosphere as the quartet plough through a series of time changes, woven together by deep cutting solos and skull-clattering drums.

‘Bound To Order’ is equally ferocious; the sound deeper than the previous track, it once against boasts an accessible riff and gruff vocal sneer. Immolation has somehow become stalwarts of the foetid field, and yet they remain one of death metal’s most underrated combos.

The immense trudge of ‘Keep The Silence’ is foreboding indeed. It marches on a booming bass and squealing riff, proof that the best death metal bands do not need to resort to hyper-blast assaults to win fans over. If anything, this style of no frills death metal is the best of all – it remains out of time, surviving any fads, lumbers along, sticking to its guns and pounding the ears hard.

Of course, if Immolation feels the need to up the pace then they do so, effortlessly. ‘God Complex’ showcases Shalaty’s talent on the skins, his beats rattle like a machine gun as the guitars become a frenzy of twisted riffs and flailing solos.

But where the band truly outshine others, is on the epic, doom-laden ‘The Great Sleep’, with its oozing intro and power metal-style marching guitar. It’s a mid-paced affair clocking in at over five minutes and it’s the albums highest point, featuring a sinister set of riffs and ghastly Dolan roar.

Mind you, ‘A Spectacle Of Lies’ is in complete contrast; it’s ravenously fast, scavenging off the scraps with that old school death metal-style of guitar grate. The same could also be said for the jarring ‘Serving Divinity’.

Album closer is the creeping ‘All That Awaits Us’, which throws up that classic Morbid Angel-style of riffing which was once symbolic of the old Floridian sound that plagued the late 80s and early 90s. It’s a classy track to top off a bone-crunching opus from one of the death metal scenes main stayers.

Kingdom Of Conspiracy may not shake the foundations of the genre, but it’ll take a while to remove the blood stains from the carpet. Immolation is death metal in its truest form.

Neil Arnold

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