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Kingdom Of Conspiracy - 80%

DEATHPORTAL, July 8th, 2013

A few terms to describe New York death metallers, Immolation: "straight-up", "consistent", and... "CRUSHING". With a career spanning over two decades, nine full-length releases, and countless live shows later, Immolation has become one of the world's most well-known and premier death metal bands. Along with their contemporary comrades, such as, Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation (just to name a few), Immolation are among the most innovated and influential of the original "old school" death metal bands from the early 90's. Since 1991's classic Dawn Of Possession, Immolation has reigned as masters of blasphemy and politically-themed brutality. With their trademark sound of unique guitar structures, blasting drums and Ross Dolan's signature growls; Immolation has transcended beyond the stratosphere of conventional death metal bands in to that of the elite gods. The band's resume is impressive and their formula for success has been simple: stay true, stay strong.

In early 2013, Immolation announced a forth-coming new album about the same time fellow New Yorkers Suffocation, released the highly anticipated and widely acclaimed Pinnacle Of Bedlam, marking that band's strongest work to date, and perhaps the beginning an "old school" revival. This is a deceptive statement as the words "old school" and "revival" are highly inaccurate. Both bands are just as relevant and more brutal today than they were in the early 90's which hardly defines the term "old school". As opposed to Suffocation, however, who had been in hiatus from 1998-2003, there was never any "revival" for Immolation as they have never stopped churning out the same top-notch quality albums at a rate of, on average, every two years since inception. In May 2013, the band released it's ninth studio offering, Kingdom Of Conspiracy.

Kingdom Of Conspiracy finds Immolation doing what they do best: straight-up death metal. The band has not strayed far from the sound of their previous albums in crafting the 10 tracks that make up this solid collection. This is an extension of the band's previous discography in terms of songwriting and performance, but what makes Kingdom Of Conspiracy stand out is the superior production. As past releases have had a muddier, and sometimes lack luster sound, Kingdom Of Conspiracy boasts a clean quality which further highlights the bands performance. Of course, it is known that Immolation are a highly competent band, bursting with talent both as songwriters and performers, but the sound production on Kingdom Of Conspiracy brings the band to a whole higher level. This record pounds and it is a full experience for the listener. Musically, Immolation are, once again, in top form. Robert Vigna's guitar work has always been the driving force behind the Immolation sound. This album is full of wonderfully disjointed structures and unique solos. The rest of the band follows suit with the utmost intensity and proficiency. Lyrically, political dominance echoes throughout the theme of this album which gives it a nice relevance of the current times. I am aware this may be met with mixed reactions, but in my opinion, these are the best songs Immolation have ever crafted. They are well written, comprehensive and compliment each other in the overall vibe and flow of the album. Some stand-out tracks include, "Keep The Silence", " God Complex", "Indoctrinate", "The Great Sleep", "All That Awaits Us" and the title track, "Kingdom Of Conspiracy".

Kingdom Of Conspiracy may well be Immolation's finest offering to date as a full package. While there is not much new by way of the band's delivery, the quality of the the songs themselves and their production are refreshing. Fans of the band will find a nice addition to their Immolation collection. Kingdom Of Conspiracy is the gem of the band's extensive discography, as well as another impressive release within the already stellar, yet just budding, year for metal. Kingdom Of Conspiracy will be met with the highest regard today and be heralded long into the future as one of Immolation's finest works.
***Originally written for and by www.deathportal.net

The same Immolation with some added twists - 90%

Pratl1971, July 2nd, 2013

Immolation's newest release, Kingdom of Conspiracy, allows me, once again, to tap into my more sadistic and brutal side (as if I need an excuse). This band has never issued a clunker in more than 20-years going, and that sickening line continues here in just over 40-minutes of truly terrific death metal, New York style.

There's just a very strong 'typicality' to that New York death metal sound, and Immolation has it in every conceivable area, which is a thick, almost Swedish sound that differs mainly in the clean and crisp production the Americans so covet. With Kingdom of Conspiracy the band adds another winning notch to their already battered and hole-punched belt. That same thick sound is what keeps the fan base angrily pumping clenched fists and permanently affixing scowled faces all across the planet.

What sets Immolation apart from most other U.S. Death metal bands is that underlying 'evil' tone to every album. Sure, there's a certain malevolence to every DM album and band; it's almost obligatory, really, but Immolation's tonal disease seems to be so natural and consuming that it just sets them apart from their contemporaries. This is very much your father's Immolation, with riffs so potent and tempestuous they could dent rusty steel girders. The opener “Kingdom of Conspiracy” peels skin from your forearms like random pieces of wax paper, slowing ever momentarily to shock the system and fool the minions of fringe design with solid, groovier guitar lines. It's the perfect start to a record, and as with every Immolation record the overall heaviness is second-to-none. I've always described the band's music as an avalanche of rocks just tumbling from a reef at breakneck speeds and decimating everything in sight. There is a certain pace to this record that seems a bit faster and riff-heavy, and that makes for a very happy audience because we've come to expect this sound from Immolation, and deviating from it would be catastrophic and out of line with the band's style. However, the 'slower' areas of the album are certainly welcome and expertly handled throughout, especially in “The Great Sleep”, which causes the head-bobbing to repeat for the entire five-minute-plus duration. Call it a nice break in the day, if you will.

The signature sound of total wanton ugliness emits from every track on this record. “Bound to Order” and “God Complex” find the famous formula and filter it through the amps with pinpoint expertise, defining just what makes sickening heavy metal music. I particularly like the time changes and smooth shifting in “God Complex”, which is one of the endearing traits of the band. Rather than simmering in some self-made rut of familiar chords, Robert Vigna and Bill Taylor take great pains to create some truly sadistic-sounding riffs for you and I to consume, and that's not an easy undertaking after all of these years where everything has been done to virtual death. When you're recovering from that little slab of scaled intensity, “Echoes of Despair” rummages around and bounces off the cranium walls with all of the trepidation of a stable of spooked wild horses. Never to be outdone, Ross Dolan growls and finger picks his way through one brutal track after another. Steve Shalaty still offers a drum-fueled eulogy fit for fight, and I especially favor “Indoctrinate” with its speedy and concise pattern that goes from 10 to 90 in mere milliseconds. We're fortunate to be able to claim these guys as our homegrown masters of the genre. Immolation provides, without fail, a sound so agonizingly volatile that only total and complete submission will suffice.

Without going on any additional long-winded, analogy-filled sentences, if you love Immolation, you most certainly will find the newest offering a maniacal piece of festering filth. This band is one of the last death metal legends that has yet to commit one single faux paus in its storied lineage, and for that I'm ecstatic and appreciative.

The band is currently on tour in the States; get out there and see them!

(Originally written for www.metalpsalter.com)

Lackluster Death Metal - 45%

Gespenster, June 20th, 2013

Immolation is one of the grand names of the death metal genre, but time may be sadly taking its toll on them. They formed back from 1986 from Yonkers, New York. Since then, they have grown a very large following, as well as a wide discography. Their best effort so far has been “Majesty and Decay” from 2010, with great sinister energy and atmosphere. However, three years later, the world would witness the release of their ninth full-length album entitled “Kingdom of Conspiracy.” Unfortunately, clunky mixing and lacking writing render this effort as not all that pleasurable.

The musicianship itself is where the problems are least prominent, but it nonetheless has a few issues. The vocals, for starters, are decently played, with sludgy low growls reigning supreme. However, when it comes to the instruments, this is where the problems begin to surface. The guitars, while playing decent, brutal riffs throughout, do become quite repetitive the further the audience delves into the album. The drums, however, are the best part of the musicianship, balancing between solidity and technicality enough for it to be a remarkable highlight. However, even then, there is a crucial problem that affects not just the percussion, but the rest of the musicianship.

This shortcoming would be the production and mixing behind this album. The drumming, while performed well, sounds too triggered and plastic, while the guitars are drowned out rather badly by the rest of the music. On top of all this, the production somewhat starves of resonance with the vocals and instruments, thus removing the possibility of “Kingdom of Conspiracy” containing an engaging atmosphere. As a result, the music sounds flat and quite hollow. Although the musicianship itself holds up relatively well, the mixing does not do it any justice.

“Kingdom of Conspiracy’s” other scathing problem is that the songwriting is also quite mediocre. Immolation continues their agenda of death metal clobbering, but the way it is planned out is not very well done. The songs in this album sound too similar to each other, especially between the title track and “Indoctrinate,” resulting from the sheer lack of dynamic and distinction. The album is just loud death metal all the way through, and there is no surplus of quieter or subtler moments to make the explosive parts more effective. On top of that, the songs themselves are monotonous as well, for the same reasons. There appears to be no attempt to build any form of peaks or bases to leave a larger impact on the audience, as described earlier. Overall, the music itself comes across as unimpressive.

Compared to its preceding releases, “Kingdom of Conspiracy” proved to be quite a letdown. However, that doesn't mean there is no silver lining to the record, either. The musicianship is decent, the lyrics are intriguing in how they depict the corruption and decay of human society, and the flaws, while significant, don’t necessarily lend the album to being a complete failure. As bland as “Kingdom of Conspiracy” turned out to be, it at least could have been much worse. However, the problem is that, once again, the flaws are significant, and outweigh the positive value of this album. Because of poor mixing and songwriting, this album is not recommended, even to loyal death metal fans. All in all, give it a pass.


Originally posted on: http://metaljerky.blogspot.com/

A Storm. - 95%

Nuclear5641, May 18th, 2013

Immolation’s story goes back to a time when death metal didn’t really exist except as a transitional form between thrash and death. Theirs is a story of a band that has been at the forefront of death metal for more than two decades, a story which narrates not just how the band has evolved during this time but also how the genre has expanded with their immeasurable contributions. And the band continues to shape this narrative with their new album, Kingdom of Conspiracy, with the same inextinguishable energy and rigor (pun intended) that made them take their genre into new territories in the past.

But do not make the mistake of assuming that the band has compromised style for novelty here. This is Immolation through and through, their well-defined style being the pulsating heart of the songwriting. Any exploration and expansion of possibilities occurs mostly with the production value and the general intensity of songs even ignoring the production. I’ve heard numerous complaints about the drum production by some fans who expect the band to continually churn out the same album every time, and the slightest offsetting of any variable leads to their grim upset. But absent such expectations or expectations to instantly fall in love with it, and you’re in for one of heaviest, most brutal and pounding death metal records ever produced.

I was myself skeptical initially when I heard the title of the album and more so when I saw the cover art, what with it resembling science-fiction dystopia, but I have learned through many, many years of experience to not trust my own first impression of a work of art; the number of times I’ve been proven wrong is large enough to discredit it. Eventually, when the band released the title song with lyrics on YouTube, it all made sense: The theme fits the songwriting like a key does a lock. Themes of an Orwellian future taken to its dreadful extreme, of unquestioning submission to authority, and of militaristic control of entire societies are brought to life in a way that only this kind of music – and Immolation in particular – could. I’m usually not one to take most death metal lyrics seriously, nor should one, but here’s an album worthy of meaningful lyrical depth not too common.

There is an increase in the speed and number of fast-paced tracks. Club this speed with loud, ear-splittingly heavy snare drums and torrential blast beats, throw in Ross Dolan’s voice of God, and Vigna’s inimitable guitar chops and solos, and you get songs as intimidating as All That Awaits Us and God Complex. Steve Shalaty has by now proven himself a worthy drum replacement and can bring the teeth of blast beats to song sections that don’t have them, such as 15 seconds into Bound to Order (You’ll know it when you hear it). But it’s not all brutality all the time. Slower songs such as Keep the Silence and The Great Sleep carry a haunting melody that complements the overall atmosphere, mood, and theme of the album.

One of the reasons I fell in love with death metal many years ago was because right from a very young age I’ve had a thing for no-holds-barred, unapologetically violent music. That’s not to say I like brutal music just for the sake of its brutality, nor the gory lyrics; there are countless brutal death metal bands as lacking in shame as in talent doing just that. But when the violent tone is subordinated to quality songwriting, and innovations in sound engineering subordinated to musicianship, out comes a rare album this deserving of praise and preservation.

In an interview with Alex Webster a couple of years ago, he said that unlike thrash metal which died out in the 90s, death metal today is better than it ever was. Kingdom of Conspiracy testifies to the validity of that statement. Kingdom of Conspiracy is the album I’ve been waiting for.

Immolation remains the same - 75%

MichaelSnoxall, May 12th, 2013

Seminal death metal act, Immolation, have had one of the most consistently immaculate discographies in death metal. From their debut masterwork, Dawn of Possession, in ’91 to their ninth and particularly impressive Majesty and Decay, Immolation have spent the last twenty-five years creating some of the most intense and well-loved technical death metal in the scene. Defined by Robert Vigna’s unique and atonal riffing, the use of drums that emulate the guitar styles to forge a tight and impressive sound, and with Ross Dolan’s eloquent and powerful vocals, Immolation has long-outshined many of their contemporaries with nary a hitch in their long career. While some albums were not as exciting or as groundbreaking as others, the band has arguably never made a bad album, and 2013’s Kingdom of Conspiracy doesn’t see that changing any time soon, even if it does see the band settling into a comfortable niche.

While it is true that Immolation have hardly changed an atom since their previous album, Kingdom of Conspiracy doesn’t let the listener down when it comes down to what Immolation do best: heavy, riff-laden death metal. Vigna is as on-point as ever, pulling out an arsenal of memorable jams that won’t disappoint, even if it is all a little familiar. In fact, one could wager that some of his best moments can be found scattered throughout the record. A personal favourite is at 3:41 in ‘Indoctrinate’, where the song was once a usual affair of brutally fast and unrelenting dissonant riffs, it breaks down into a slow-running technical riff and a melodic solo, Dolan eventually chanting alongside, ”The sadness of wasted life/the sadness of silenced dreams/sorrow for these unwary victims/witness the loss of all identity.” The lyrics tackling the album’s noble (if rather cliché) theme of a society in shackles, supported by Dolan’s powerful vocals, which sound just as good as they usually do, but I can’t help but feel Kingdom of Conspiracy lacks any classic hooks that Dolan usually whips out with each album. Instead, the vocals are steady, coherent and enjoyable, but seem to really lack a certain flavour that the listener has come to enjoy, or expect.

The album’s production is a cause for concern. As with most modern music, the production techniques here leave the music brick-walled, everything too loud for its own good, and the music suffers from it. The over-produced drums sound plastic and steal the shine away from the strong songwriting, everything else in the mix warring to be heard. But as it stands, the production doesn’t really ruin the music, rather it just holds it back. The music lacks a certain atmosphere that Immolation usually has in spades, and before you know it, the album has careened by in a collection of tracks that all stand quite well on their own, but do little to serve as a coherently constructed body of work. Immolation know their own styles too well, and as a whole have created an album that does its best to hold up those styles, but really fails to breathe as flawlessly as an album like Close to a World Below.

All in all, Kingdom of Conspiracy is a solid set of songs by Immolation. The riffs are there; at times they’re massive, off-kilter and encompass everything a fan loves from Immolation’s music. The band’s musicianship is as strong as ever, everyone falling into the one another’s niche. The drums read the guitars perfectly and Dolan’s vocals provide the harrowing voice of ruination beside them. But aside from a few key moments that really see the band at their highest moments, the rest is the old Immolation we know and love, and as a result is something we don’t really need to hear again. The album sits comfortably within the band’s discography, but it does nothing to contest the classics that came before.