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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!