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Harnessing Ruin - 90%

6CORPSE6GRINDER6, October 22nd, 2012

“Harnessing Ruin” features a fresh sound the band acquired in their past album “Unholy Cult”, which consist on a very heavy and bass oriented equalization. Composition wise it follows the same path, with a more relaxed style in riffing, focused on the ambient created rather than the decoration of the riffs. It is a little bit more inspired than their previous effort; “Swarm of Terror”, “Our Saviour Sleeps” and “Challenge the Storm” would be the highlights for me. They combine the ferocity that have always characterized Immolation’s death metal with the recently acquired sense of melody you can find on “My Own Enemy” and “Son Of Iniquity” too, the longest songs of the record. These long epics are an example of how fluid and wired is the band’s song making process, because riffs drift from one section to another perfectly throughout the 6+ minutes they last.

Shalaty’s inclusion after classic drummer Alex Hernández departure doesn’t affect dramatically the band’s sound, he follows the same riff conscious formula to play drum patterns that go along with whatever the guitar is playing. Their style is so similar I honestly wouldn’t have noticed the line up change if the booklet didn’t said it. Shalaty’s technique is exquisite as Hernández, both are intelligent at the time of writing their beats and have a tremendous stamina. Some guitar arrangements are also included, that give a hypnotic and haunting atmosphere to the sections they are used for. The deep sorrow effect they produce is accomplished completely. The soloing is still sick as fuck, a trademark in Immolation`s sound, not every death metal band has good lead guitars and they know it, so they take advantage from it luckily for us the fans. Twin guitars are also used with a wicked dexterity from both guitarists; giving an anxious texture to the music. Dolan’s vocals are still as crude as they have always been, from the guts and to the abyss. His bass guitar gives a nice mattress for the guitars, supporting them and giving an extra punch and low end heaviness to the music.

The evil and abstract are melted in this new millennium Immolation’s sound, a pairing that blends perfectly when crafted by this masters if you ask me. A little aspect I dislike of this album are the clean vocals of “Dead to Me” a track I consider the band’s weakest, it’s too melodic for my taste, as if they focused more on the sad and nostalgic side of the music rather than the evil and brutal. Apart from that, this album is another exemplary monument of Immolation’s straightforward death metal.

Unprocessed Mastery - 90%

Svartekrist, September 28th, 2011

That Immolation have their own style going on, is something most would probably agree upon. Harnessing Ruin is a continuation of that style, with spastic drumming following the lead of the guitars most notably. And as well comes the deep yet decipherable vocals along with trembling bass guitar adding that rumbling thunder underneath it all. So how does it go?

The instrumentation, which should be expected, is delivered masterfully. In terms of how the instruments supplement each other, it does not get much better, all creating a rather haunting atmosphere. The guitars have a blunt feel to them, but as well sharp, strewing around memorable and intricate riffs. The bass guitar lies in lieu of the guitars, backing up with some thick lines to give a more deep feel to the strings. The drums however is plain and simple excellent, they somewhat mimic the pattern of the guitars, but in the process adds some very rhythmically complex beats here and there. The vocals, as mentioned, are easy to decipher and can be described as thundering roars, delivered with outstanding force.

In terms of production and mixing, these are both probably the most ideal for the band, in particular the production which gives a raw and unprocessed feel to the music. And the mixing leaves everything audible, but can at times tangle the bass guitar and the guitars together. And as already said, the instruments supplement each other very well. With the songwriting however, things can go a little bad. Most songs have something to them that should not be missed, but some songs have sections that could have been improved upon or structured differently, or perhaps just not be there at all. Those sections dotted around are more or less the biggest weaknesses of Harnessing Ruin. But aside from these, there is not much else wrong here, to be perfectly honest.

In the end, Immolation have made a very powerful album, with a couple of really heavy hitting songs. There are some hick-ups that are hard to ignore, but overall, Harnessing Ruin is a quality product and easy to enjoy.

Stand-out tracks: Harnessing Ruin, Our Savior Sleeps, Swarm of Terror, Son of Iniquity, Crown the Liar.
9/10

Harnessing their own ruin? - 90%

kaivrykolakas, June 7th, 2007

To be brutally honest, I didn't even thought about checking this album out after realizing that Alex Hernandez is no longer behind the drum kit. None of my friends ever mentioned this album to me, so after a few months of its release I was still ignoring it and then even forgot about it.

I came across the "Harnessing Ruin" video and decided to check it out, since it was online and free for all to view. There was something in the riffs of that song that compelled me to listen to the album.

So I went to my favourite metal CD store and got a copy and listened to the whole album. Here's my verdict:

It was a great album! The band has really grown or developed in their songwriting. The riffs are still typical Immolation, and only Immolation could conjure up such riffs - dark and ominous. The new drummer, Steve, did a marvellous job of maintaining the signature Immolation drum surge and revealed a bit of his own touch.

What I do not like about this album: The technicality of the riffs in the songs in this album are decreasing compared to the riffs of the songs from their past albums.

What I do like about this album: The simpler riffs added another dimension to Immolation's songwriting ability. There were those lead guitar parts which at times make the songs sound a bit melodic. I didn't like them at first but after a while I felt that they sounded necessary.

So after listening to this album a few times, I found myself liking it. Immolation fans would be a bit disappointed but if you call yourself an Immolation fan, then you should not miss this album even if it differs from the older albums.

Harnessing excellent death metal - 95%

desolateraven, May 22nd, 2007

I'd been looking forward to this release since the stellar "Unholy Cult" was released in 2002. I'm glad to report that this is a very strong album as expected by Immolation and certainly one of the best death metal albums of 2005.

If you've never heard death metal before, this is not the place to start! Immolation's albums at first can be quite overwhelming. There isn't much breathing space here, and the chaotic time-changes and discordant riffery that the band utilizes can take some time to make sense of. Add to that the very dark and twisted visual and audible images of Immolation and you've got an extreme listen. But believe me, once you give them some time, you soon begin to realise the creative genius that this band has to. For those of you that have experience with death metal, Immolation lie somewhere in the league of early Morbid Angel, the technicality of Suffocation and the bizarre brilliance of Gorguts.

The band made a conscious decision to not over-produce "Harnessing Ruin" and have tried to create a raw but clear sound that is easy so each instrument is actually heard. They have succeeded, as this sounds very heavy and crystal clear, without the clinical sound that so often comes with modern death metal of today. The band has a new drummer Steve Shalaty, and he manages to fill the very large shoes of the departed Alex Hernandez. His work on "Harnessing Ruin" is awesome and the guy has absolutely nailed the unique Immolation style. The guitar riffs and solos are always fantastic and Ross Dolan's vocals are second to none. The fact that he can sound so brutal and nasty, while always being decipherable is a sign of just how good he is. An unusual occurrence in metal this extreme! It's very difficult for me to pick album highlights as every song is worthy of praise and the album should definitely be listened to in its entirety. I would however say songs like Challenge the Storm, At Mourning's Twilight, Our Savior Sleeps, Swarm of Terror are excellent examples of what greatness Harnessing Ruin has to offer.

To conclude, if your an Immolation fan, or like death metal in general, you would be doing yourself a favor by getting this album!

Consistent and Crippling - 90%

Erin_Fox, October 29th, 2006

Over the years, Immolation has come to rely more upon traditional metal elements rather than the death styling of the early nineties in order to deliver an impression of darkness.

The mix here is low-toned, with crunching bottom end bludgeoning being the band’s modus operandi. Dirging riffs create a doomy feeling on “Son Of Iniquity” while creating a classic death vibe on “Swarm Of Terror” that seethes with a brutal tonality. Immolation have deliberately attempted to create different states of ambience, ranging from grooving grinding to dissonant offset polyrhythms. Ross Dolan possesses a grainy, gruff bark that gives tracks like “Our Savior Sleeps” an ominous tone.

On this track, you will find Immolation combining widely separated styles with expertly dark song craftsmanship. At times, the band summons a wall of noise and others they move for more disjointed grooves. Steve Shalaty can blast with the best of the extreme metal drummers, issuing a precise yet variable attack.

If you’re an Immolation fan and have heard about this release, you probably already own it. If you haven’t had the opportunity to check this legendary group of NY deathsters out, “Harnessing Ruin” is as good a reference as any, easily standing up to the group’s prior albums, with an added bit of catchiness to boot. If the bleak strains of the apocalyptic title track can’t get a metalhead moving, it’s hard to imagine what would.

Immolation continues to prove themselves deserving of a lofty stature within the death metal community with yet another outstanding album of pure unholy death delivered with caliginous conviction!

Yet another quality album... - 92%

Grimma, March 2nd, 2006

Chaotic grooves paved on asymmetric time signatures, unsettling harmonics, insane rhythms, menacing vocals; ah, the Immolation of it all! It may not be surprising to say that out of a pick of ten or even a hundred bands otherwise tagged as NY death metal, Immolation would be the most audibly distinct from the bunch. Throughout a productive lineage of highly acclaimed albums and yet far from the media’s spotlight, Immolation have been perpetually smoldering under a veil of hellish musicality, following their own intransigent, musical path. That unique musical trademark of discordant harmonies and distinctive groove parts is once again omnipresent on their latest work but this time round it’s bolstered by a more melodic approach, the most conspicuous parts of which can be found on the devastating ‘Our Savior Sleeps’ and ‘Dead To Me’. Don’t get the wrong idea though, Immolation are certainly not the ones for compromising melodies; the melody they incorporate takes the role of a subtle, threatening feeling which adds even more to the rich musical texture of their sound. The riffage on this album once again defies and yet re-defines death metal riffing with Vigna churning his captivatingly pernicious riffs along-side Dolan’s intricate bass lines. This album also sees a new sticksman sitting behind the drum set, namely Steve Shalaty who falls right in place in the Immolation camp. Akin to his predecessor’s technical prowess, Shalaty’s drumming never falls in the trap of being monotonous or overly technical just for the sake it. What with his well-placed drum fills and complex, groovy rhythmical patterns he manages to integrate a lot of imagination into his percussion, thus providing each song with a solid and attention-grabbing foundation.
Another iniquitous offering of Immolation’s own brand of brutal death metal minus redundant blast beating and extravagant, gore filled lyricism, for the dedicated Immolation fans, ‘Harnessing Ruin’ isn’t much of a thunder from clear skies; it’s a validation of what they have come to expect each and every time this Yonkers quartet releases an album.

Imperfect, but still awesome - 85%

chaossphere, May 5th, 2005

Ah yeah, Immolation. Quite possibly the most consistent death metal band in existence for a running total of 5 albums from 1991’s monolithic debut “Dawn Of Possession” through to 2002’s epic “Unholy Cult”, not to mention last year’s slightly flawed but ultimately great DVD release, these four lapsed catholics from Yonkers, NY have been churning out their own unique approach to dark, twisted atmospheric death metal and crushing all in their path for nigh on 20 years now, and show no sign of slowing down just yet. Album number 6, “Harnessing Ruin” marks the band’s second change of drummer since the first album, with Steve Shalaty replacing Alex Hernandez, who’s monstrous rolls and insane patterns were a huge part of what made their last 3 efforts so amazing. So, does the new guy measure up? Sort of. His actual performance is great, providing the usual monstrous tom-abuse and double bass thunder necessary to drive the rumbling, convoluted riffs, but he’s a bit hampered here by a weak, lifeless drum sound. Somehow, he’s been buried under a smoother, less gritty sound than we’ve become accustomed to. Overall though, this isn’t detrimental to the album and becomes much less noticeable once the songs kick in.

…and with that triviality out of the way, we can move onto the songwriting. I’ve found this album to be much more easily digested than any of the past four efforts. Perhaps it’s due to being more accustomed to Immolation’s trademark brand of dissonant composition, but the song do seem somewhat more melodic than before. They’re still groaning, twisted messes of heavy-as-lead death metal shot through with mind-bending lead guitar work, but there seem to be a lot more traditional scales involved here. This is nowhere near as jarring as “Here In After” or “Close to a World Below” – more of a logical progression from the last album, but further streamlined. As ever, Ross Dolan’s trademark vocals are guttural yet crystal-clear, absolutely no “deathvomit” to be found – just pure grit and nihilistic exclamation. It’s difficult to name standout tracks, as nothing really sticks out like previous “hits” such as No Jesus, No Beast or Close To a World Below to name a couple, although the title-track here has a particularly majestic main theme which sticks to your ears like glue. Of course, the closing track At Mourning’s Twilight provides us with the as-now traditional mega-epic closing riff, a pattern set down in stone by every album since “Here In After”. An Immolation album without one of those would be like beer without alcohol, seriously.

This disc might not crush all in it’s path like the bulk of Immolation’s back catalogue, instead it finds the band consolidating their style and branching out tentatively in a few new directions – never experimental enough to become a sellout or a creative failure, and never simply rehashing their previous creative triumphs. Essential for fans and a good introduction for newbies, they’ve surmounted a difficult stage in their career and succeeded where many lesser bands would fall flat on their faces. As usual, my hat (well, if I wore one) is off to them.


Originally written for http://www.diabolicalconquest.com

Grimness and desolation galore - 95%

Harachte, February 2nd, 2005

And then there was “Unholy Cult” to exceed. An immense task I’d say.
I don’t know if the band thought that as well when they started to write material for the “Harnessing Ruin” album, but I held my breath so to speak. Not that I thought Immolation couldn’t do it, but “Unholy Cult” simply begs for an even more devastating follow-up, or an album that forces a breakthrough to a larger audience, with all kinds of consequences.
Would Immolation mellow out? Would they play on safe? Or could it be that they would scorch their way through metal history with an even more monumental album?

And then there was “Harnessing Ruin”, an album of which I can honestly say that this is the kind of record that makes it all worthwhile listening to this kind of noise all these years. An album that makes it easier to listen through those endless amounts of musical mediocrity and faceless copycats in order to challenge me to actually go and search for something I can criticise, of which I could say ‘hmmm, this could be a lot better if…’.
I was rather sceptic at first, ladies and gentlemen. The online pre-release of the “Harnessing Ruin” video also strengthened the anticipation. Being a very powerful, transparent song with epical riffs and a feel which I could only describe using the word ‘swinging’, this was quite unlike the material featured on “Unholy Cult”. Like some crack addict I instantly craved for more.
When the promo fell on my experienced doormat and I started listening to the eight other tracks I was rather disappointed. The tracks did not immediately grab me by the throat like they used to do. With a more epical, melancholical approach Immolation sounded… different to me. The fact that two new band members joined in over the last two years (guitarist Bill Taylor [ex-Angel Corpse], replaced Tom Wilkinson and drummer Steve Shalaty replaced drum monster Alex Hernandez) added to a somewhat ‘well… I guess it’s an okay album’-attitude. In short: to be honest, I didn’t what to think.

Until I listened more often, again and again, while the music settled in my brain, the atmosphere
Like some kind of slow venom the insane chords and compositions make their way into the bloodstream, the grim and desolate atmosphere pressing heavily, the music marching forward with unstoppable force. Again, “Harnessing Ruin” has its’ own distinctive sound (once again Immolation relied on Paul Orofino, who gave the record a sober but powerful production), in one way differentiating from it’s predecessor, in yet another way containing all those typical Immolation trademarks: solos from Hell, über-catchy, sometimes even melancholical riffing, pounding drums (“Crown the Liar”) and the ever-present breaks.
This time however, things are approached slightly different, the emphasis being on the aforementioned grimness and desolation… like the tracks “Dead To Me” (especially the end of the track) and “Our Saviour Sleeps”, including the well known anti-religious lyrics which add to the total because Ross Dolan has such a characteristic, audible grunt which enables you to actually understand the lyrics without the lyrics sheet at hand, a feat that’s not exactly new, but which is adding some real extras this time.
Let’s not forget the presence of epic characteristics that are also Immolation trademarks (“Son of Iniquity”; “At Mourning’s Twilight”), but often the tracks are a blending of different atmospheric elements. The overall tempo of “Harnessing Ruin” is somewhat slower than its’ predecessor and this too adds to the heaviness of the album.

“Harnessing Ruin” has become a monster album, hardly comparable with it’s predecessor because there isn’t any consolidation, i.e. playing on safe. Although being typical Immolation, the music takes a different direction on its’ way to monumental proportions, creating an apocalyptical, atmospheric gloom that’s almost unequalled in this style of metal.
And perhaps my perception of the album is all but simple. Perhaps these guys thought along the lines of ‘well, let’s write some shit and record it’… without apparent effort, without any difficulty.
If this is so, then it’s a feat that’s only achieved by the greatest of innovators. All hail Immolation!

Excellent death metal... - 93%

HeirToRuin, December 31st, 2004

This album, another great offering from Immolation, has exceeded what I have come to expect from death metal. While many of the old school US death metal bands have evolved into something cheesy (compare to Morbid Angel and Deicide), Immolation remain true to their roots while evolving their sound without losing their spark.

Musically, the album is brutal without going for the effect on purpose...which is usually a good mark. There are more atmospheric song on this album that previous works but the edge is not lost. The continuing lyrical content of anti-religion does not come off cheesy...a plaque that haunts many bands of this genre. The vocals are convincing...sans for some of the whispered sections in "Dead To Me" that seems to be somewhat of a 'faux pas' that has bled over from the mallcore world. However, this song is still one of my top picks for the other sections are quite strong.

The guitar work is strong and memorable. I've actually played some of these songs up to 10 times after the initial listen...a rarity for me with death metal. Overall, the album isn't groundbreaking, but it is strong and to me yet another strong release from one of the premier death metal.

Best tracks: Challenge the Storm, Dead To Me, My Own Enemy

I was wrong... they don't still have it (edited) - 68%

Cynical, December 27th, 2004

Here it is: the new album from Immolation. For several years, Immolation has been perhaps the most consistently excellent band in death metal; with each album, a listener knew what they were getting, but at the same time, the albums weren't re-treads of each other, each one blazing new grounds: "Dawn of Possession" being a foundational album for NYDM; "Here in After" and "Failures for Gods" both being massively twisted rhythmic beatings with a sense of dissonant chord, the latter being more advanced than the former; "Close to a World Below", while not quite as structurally complex as "Failures for Gods", brought a stronger sense of dissonant melody to the proceedings and managed to succeed at being one of the most atmospheric death metal recordings ever; and "Unholy Cult" brought a sense of epic-ness to the table that had been present in a few of their songs, and also saw the band using layers and counterpoint melodies more extensively than before, but at a cost; the rhythmic violence was toned down somewhat compared to previous efforts, and the time signatures were noticeably more straightforward.

This leads us into the first possible issue that can be leveled against "Harnessing Ruin": seven of the songs on this album really bring nothing new to the table. Brutal and dissonant death metal riffs at a moderate to fast pace that focus on both the sequencing of chords and their harmonics against each other are played over drums that offer another layer of rhythm and control the dynamics of each song; relying on a double kick with fills matching the guitars on top on the softer parts, and a blast beat on the louder ones. Bass acts as a separate instrument, rather than simply backing up the guitar or drums, and in spots with layered melody and no guitar soloing, is usually the source of the less dominating one. The bassy roar of Ross Dolan over the top of the album acts as another, much slower, rhythm instrument, falling into a cadence that mimics that of the guitar, each vocal line beginning and ending punctually with the riff. Leads, rather than being insanely atonal, take a melodic idea and play with it, letting it evolve through various ideas.

Verse-chorus structures place an emphasis on the extended middle section, itself having multiple motifs, some of which may repeat within that section, and place the guitar solo as the climax of the song and an essential structural element, rather than a flourish thrown in on top of these songs, that, when at their best, are quite warlike and have at the same time have a morbid nature, revealing a worldview in which death is looming large over the earth and ready to reap; however, a large portion of the album becomes far to rock 'n roll for its own good, with "Our Savior Sleeps" and "At Mourning's Twilight" featuring utterly sentimental melodic hooks, and "Dead to Me" and "Son of Iniquity" having as much angst as a mallcore band. Even the four stronger songs on offer here fail to have the power that previous ones did, seemingly decidedly lukewarm compared to previous offerings from this band.

The one song that isn't really described by the above, "Harnessing Ruin", is largely a "rock/death metal" song in which death metal ideas are put in a consistent, catchy, almost sing-along context in a manner similar to "Serpents of the Light" era Deicide; it manages to be better than the aformentioned Deicide album, but not up to this band's standard.

Production favors guitars and vocals, putting them at the top of the mix, with the bass and drums audible but not as prominent. The overall sound is very clear and doesn't end up in a rumbling morass like many other brutal death bands.

All in all, you've got four songs that aren't quite up to Immolation's standard, two songs featuring Immolation trying their hand at rock 'n roll, two songs with Immolation trying to fuse mallcore with death metal, and one Deicide retread. It's far from necessary; you'd be advised to seek out older, more powerful, works from this band.