without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
“Providence”, a free digital Immolation EP released on the now defunct Scion A/V label, is a satisfying deluge of death metal free to anyone willing to listen. Hot on the heels of “Majesty and Decay”, “Providence” is another fine-tuning of Immolation's consistent style where a dense sound brimming with intense drumming, growling guitars, and dissonant harmonies creates cataclysmic crushing compositions unsurpassed in the genre.
Immolation's cacophonous cycles have always had a particularly evil sound to them. Each riff gives the illusion of hearing a beautiful record being played backwards, achieving harmony through speed, and wearing you out mentally and physically as you try to process the auditory assault. The music compliments the vocals well in “What They Bring” while the strings rise to achieve harmony from the depths of their clash in the churning carnage. The isolation of the drums behind the organ sound on “Illumination” give a great creeping vibe to the song's sound as the hammering gives even the decay of the organ a crush of its own. A raging blast section in “Swallow the Fear” after a screaming solo shakes you to the core. The duel between the guitars near the end, encouraged by more ferocious blasting, is exactly where Immolation's sound hits its signature peak. As typical as this album is of this death metal giant's quality, it is another fateful step on this band's road to greatness.
Immolation gives you just enough on this short EP without any moments that seem like filler or too drawn out. This is a band doing a great service to their audience, giving them a free and ferocious release that highlights the caliber of New York's most enduring death metal act. Though the Scion A/V label is gone, the album is being shared freely through many channels, giving plenty of potential fans a taste of what Immolation brings.
Even though metal dudes can appear tough and even scary on the outside, there are often really nice guys under all the hair, black cotton, pentagrams and beer stains. The fact that death metal stalwarts and legends Immolation released a cool little EP called ‘Providence’ that is free to anyone and everyone showcases how much looks can be deceiving (or, maybe it’s my inherent predisposition to judging!). Granted, I was surprised to learn that it was presented by the hipster box car peddlers Scion (who also put out the pretty sweet Enslaved EP ‘The Sleeping Gods’) , who have hamsters dancing to LMFAO’s ‘Party Rock Anthem’ in their commercials. I am not sure how I feel about that, but if they keep aligning themselves with great acts, then I might find myself wearing a tracksuit and rolling around in one of their rides doing the party shuffle…which I guess is the point right?
Anyway, it also helps that Immolation is awesome. It’s not eloquent, but it’s true. There are a lot of free downloads (legal and illegal) on the web, but when such a great group says ‘up yours’ to profit motive (sans Scion?), it really says something about character. These guys care about their fans, and they always deliver when it comes to their music, attitude, and…awesomeness. Again, not eloquent, but true.
In the time since their last full length ‘Majesty and Decay’ (with its very death metal album cover…and the same goes for this one!), the group has been touring steadily. They had just finished roaming the venues of America and Canada with the likes of slammers Jungle Rot (who always deliver the best caveman metal around) and wild tech-deathers Gigan. It made me very sad that the tour passed up Northern California, as I would have greatly savored another chance to see Immolation live again with such great supporting acts. When I was lounging outside the Boardwalk in January 2010 waiting for them to start, I didn’t realize that the band had gone on so I missed half of their set. I was very mad at myself. Woe is me!
Now in 2011, ‘Providence’ continues the high standard that the New Yorkers place upon the music they make. All five tracks on the album are blunt and to the point, and as a result the band is much less complex than on some of their past works, which is much more in character with a shorter recording. But each cut retains the warm (an understatement) atmosphere present in the half melodic half crushing guitar tone and full drum tones. Bob Vigna crafts some of the greatest transitions and dissonances this side of Gorguts, and will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The production sounds a little quiet, but I guess we will just have to pump up the volume to our discretion. How else is death metal to be played? If it’s not pissing someone off then you need to turn it up! But of course, the music means much more than that.
There is no wasted time here, no ambient build up or feedback call and response on the no-nonsense opener ‘What They Bring’ which leads seamlessly into the rest of the work. The slamming tremolo slashes paired with the lower end pummels on the title track no doubt led to much moshing on the road and the continued breaking of windows at home. The most well conceived track for me is the final one, ‘Swallow the Fear,’ which uses a very emotional guitar motif throughout that builds a sense of passion and struggle against a great obstacle. One of the great aspects of the track as well as other past works is that the phrasing of Ross Dolan’s signature vocals (see the close of ‘Fall From A High Place’). There is always a great sense of dynamism between his narrations and the music that illustrates them. A short burst of music, a few words. A break, a similar breaking trail of growls that do not rely on generic punk derived spitting (not that punk spitting is a bad thing)
What makes the vocals even more unique is that their lyrical themes have a very humanist and moral bent to them, even if they attack Christianity and other topics without mincing their words. This is not a bloodthirsty abomination from the dark places of the universe calling out to us; it is a disgruntled and driven human being who roars with an inner heat. And in opposition to the other methods inherent in death metal, this approach belies a great level of emotional experience and sympathy for the moment where a believer loses his/her faith (‘Our Savior Sleeps’ even hints at a desire for someone to come and save us and our world, and 'Father Your Not a Father' leans towards possible sympathy for the J man!).
While the lyrics on ‘Providence’ do not address their subject in the potent way showcased previously, there is an almost political bent to them here. And through it all, comes the fact that the world continues to spiral downwards at the cost of millions of people’s lives and sanity, again, they do not hedonistically revel in the violence like many other groups. While I am not sure of the group’s political inclinations, I cannot help but draw a connection to the Occupy movement, even if the album was recorded before it began in New York City. Whatever comes to mind when you hear the music and read the lyrics, its potent stuff a cut above the usual blasphemy.
The group has been around for over 20 years, a fact vocalist Ross Dolan made clear when I saw them last year. “This is a song off of our first album, which is probably older than some of you!” That was not the first or last time I heard such a statement. One of the sad facts about attending shows with older groups in the lineup is that it makes me feel that I do not deserve to be around the genre. I hear a lot of the tape trading scene of the past, and how it inspired explicit physical connections between a then much smaller fanbase all over the world. The internet robs much of the mystery of finding such groups and becoming a part of the culture in which they reside in. It simply cannot happen anymore, and this goes for nearly every fan driven genre of music, be it Hip-Hop, punk or even avant-garde. Everyone likes death metal, from the old guard that supported the New York, Florida and Swedish scenes to the scene kids that gather at the Boardwalk here in Sacramento (well, the latter group means well!). And people (like I) who find such music through the techno-portal can simply amass knowledge and love for the music apart from its heart. In a way, I am killing metal, and by association, killing music! But Immolation knows that the times are changing…and thus, we look into the depths with ‘Providence’ today.
Recommended, along with everything else the band has done. Class acts all around.
Originally Published for examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/review/mandatory-download-immolation-s-providence
The “Providence” EP was released when the hangover of Immolation’s previous effort (my favorite, the almighty “Magesty and Decay”) was still in process. They sound like they were recorded in the same session, both musically and production wise. It’s almost like it is an extension to the mentioned recording.
It is short but in its 18 minutes it lefts no head standing above its neck, it will sure make them all roll. The vicious melodic sense they possess combined with the classic genre’s brutality is an effective formula that never fails. Especially because of the truly evil and black essence of the riffs, take for example the intro of “Illumination”. It’s symphonic, yet you can hear how the hearts of those who can’t take extreme metal tremble when it becomes summoning those hiding in the shadows. This can only be achieved by music that is totally committed with the atrocious. Latter, when the riff is played with the guitars you can feel it heavier of course, but equally as mysterious and intriguing, there isn’t even such a big contrast between the symphonic and the electric round it is played due to that. This characteristic draws my attention more to this band and that make them one of my favorite DM acts, you may not know the name of the band or the lyrics but you know they are up to worshiping obscurity and taking a transparent look at the dark side of humanity.
The record’s production as I said is pretty similar to the band’s effort before it. Drumming is neat and recorded without triggers; they just use them live to control the band’s sound in general. That’s another point for them, in terms of sound and honesty. This crystal clear drum tracks let you perceive how every strike on the bass drums “breathe” and finish before the next comes in, no matter how fast and close are they, every hit ends up right in your temple... as a bong hit (?) The same happens with the toms in the fast drum fills, production lets you hear the drum’s resounding (because their skins aren’t as tied as tight as the bass drum) even when the drummer is hitting the next tom. And it’s that way with the cymbals too, adding strange metrics and off beats. Percussion in this band has always been extremely textured.
The bass guitar doesn’t stand out for being particularly innovative, it just goes along with the riffs but it’s still there, you can feel it anchoring the percussion and the guitars, helping them to blend together, that’s the role of a bassist. Vocals are so from the guts they are the standard in guttural growls nowadays, a whole generation of singers was spawned by this amazing performer. Deep and highly vibrating this growls sound barely human, they are unearthly. Guitar’s powerful, dry and compressed distortion has been already tested numerous times since “Unholy Cult”, it works. The weight compression gives to this contusive and crushing tone deserves to be remarked, because it models the band’s sound, organizing it’s violence a little bit for a better appreciation.
I am definitely not Immolation's biggest fan, that's for sure. However, for some reason, I think they're undisputedly the best death metal band of all time. This means that the worst thing you'll ever hear from them will be between "amazing" and "BESTSONGEVERYOUMOTHERFUCKERS", depending on personal taste. Of course, that only goes for fans of male death metal.
That said, Providence is definitely not their worst effort. It's actually one of the top three best death metal records I heard in 2011, which was undoubtedly one of the best years in death metal output ever, so it's godlike, in all honesty. What is amazing with Immolation is that, after releasing Dawn of Possession which is one of the best albums -if not the best- of the early American death metal scene, they have progressed in a way that no serious person can say anything about them going soft or gay, like the other death gods, Morbid Angel. Instead, they choose to rape our ears each and every time they write a riff.
So, on to the record itself. Every single song is crucial, essential, deadly, raping, pulsar-heavy and addicting. The riffs are so ripping and great sounding that they actually set the standards for ALL modern death metal bands -except for Ulcerate, who already surpassed them. The screaming pinch harmonics are ear-candy and flirt heavily with your brain's clitoris. The lead guitar parts are what in my brain connects the dots between Immolation's early days and their present sound, except for the high quality standards of course. Yes, they're old school. But since it's those guys, you know they fit with the rest. The rhythm section is extremely... rhythmic. For example, the double bass is not super fast as in Origin for instance, and the songs are basically mid-tempo. As such, I can guarantee that if you listen to this record while sitting down, you will most certainly air-drum. There is definitely a "groovy" feeling here, but don't let yourself think of Pantera, it's that tight "groovy" feeling Obituary popularized, but less Celtic Frost-esque and doomy. The melodies are the surprising element here; despite the dissonance, the non-four-on-the-floor time signatures, the melodies will apparently reach the mind and offer great satisfaction.
Overall, Providence is a great manifest of the potency these old dudes have 20 years after their landmark debut. A merciless assault from a band that has never ceased to amaze the death metal world, and probably never will. Take note fellows.
I haven’t the slightest idea, but lately, EPs have really been satisfying my metal thirst, both in quality and quantity. Maybe I have a short attention span? I don’t know. Regardless of my ability to tune in my ears for a measly 40 minute span, this EP from death metal legends Immolation is a treat. Free music is a tricky business (by free I mean when the band gives it away with the intention of being free, you miserable pirates killing off what we love!), as often times you get what you pay for, and it sits in some deserted collection of your collection never to be touched again. Now forget what I just said, because this mini album kicks some serious ass.
This EP has a lot going for it. In short, we have the standard Immolation formula that we became acquainted with on Majesty and Decay. Not much has changed since then, and the band does a nice job with giving a mixture of old school and modern death metal, something others should take note of (*cough* David Vincent *cough*). The riffs are all there, drumming is varied and is liberal with blast beats, and the vocals are as brutal and offer us the message of harbinger of death. I suppose that’s the whole point of the Providence thing.
The guitar riffing is significantly different from song to song, a task easier to pull off on an EP, but the fact remains true nonetheless. From the slower almost doom parts on the title track to droning leads on What They Bring to the instrumental mimicry of Illumination, there is variety. Guitar solos pop up here and there, giving us some really flashy and catchy glimpses of the full power of Immolation, even after all these years. The speed differences really help bring the songs together and that showcases the fact that they can simply write well.
The general riffing is typical of Immolation, featuring very rapid strumming followed by a short yet complex passage. Most songs can be broken down with that sort of riffing, but there are also portions of the guitarists (I can’t remember who it is anymore) simply strumming as fast as they can with the blast beats. Sound boring? Well, you probably didn’t like death metal anyway. They don’t reinvent the wheel with the guitar work, but it draws from years of experience and focuses on quality over innovation.
For example, let’s look at the cut named Still Lost. This track is the best on the EP for a number of reasons. There are a few blast beats, and the drums are moving at all times, indeed the fastest on this release save for the solos of Swallow the Fear. The vocals are varied, and riffing changes quickly from hammer-ons to sheer speed without fancy tricks. But the best comes at the last 40 seconds of the song. A classically technical and speedy solo transforms into an unrelenting blast beat with the strongest and most abusive rhythm guitar you’ve heard in a while. This continues for a few moments before the icing on the cake is added; a simplistically addictive guitar lead and guttural and testosterone quenching vocals. Breakdowns don’t come any better.
The drumming on this EP is fantastic, and is nothing if not brutal. He switches off and on from double bass pedals, and has consistent and speedy kicks for blast beats and general patterns, such as those on Illumination. For the most part it sounds as if he is using the same high hat, cymbal, and snare for the entire EP, but for 5 songs you really don’t notice it. Blast beats are not over used, and he can certainly keep pace with some of the best in death metal. Bass is seemingly left out of the mix, unfortunately, and that is one of the few negative points here.
The vocals are again standard fare for Immolation, and it showcases Ross Dolan’s rather unique voice even while partaking in the guttural growls. There are a number of vocal hooks that really draw you in, namely on Still Lost and Swallow the Fear. He mainly stays in the lower octaves, and the higher pitches are only felt for a few milliseconds on Still Lost. Immolation does a fantastic job of using his voice to accentuate the sheer brutality and speed of the blast beats and other sections. The moment where his vocals shine most though is the title track, where a moderate paced song becomes totally overrun by crushing vocals with surprisingly distinct lyrics. Dolan claims total command of that song and does good on making it one of the best on this mini album.
However, one of the most important reasons why this EP kicks so much ass is what they did after the recording. The production on here is a perfect example of what modern death metal should sound like, improving on much of what we heard with the spot on production of Abysmal Dawn. The guitars are almost as low as the vocals, while maintaining a certain shrillness on the higher notes which only aids in juxtaposing the differences in pitch. The drums don’t pack a ton of punch, except for the double bass pedals which are as thick and meaty as steak made from the body of a sasquatch (a.k.a. Bigfoot). The album artwork is also incredibly noteworthy, and it adds to the atmosphere and is another example of modern death metal just done well.
Then again, to call it modern death metal is not totally fair, as the sound really combines old school with modern. And it is not in the sense of Morbid Angel “let’s mix death metal and techno”, but more so that the old school riffs have only been revised a little and given a shiny new production. And that’s what makes this awesome. It is all about the quality. A fine release and I would recommend this to pretty much anyone who likes their metal brutal, as there is something for everyone. I love it and I’m far from a death metal fanatic. I would’ve even paid for it. Best track: Still Lost.
Immolation are a band that never disappoint, and when I say never, I mean NEVER. Since the dawn of possession (pun intended) they have been at the forefront of innovation, delivering pure unadulterated death metal for 25 years now. Providence is the follow up to their 2010 album Majesty and Decay, an album with which they scaled new heights and settled there. Providence is a 5 song ep that is up for free download via scion A/V; a way for the band to thank their fans and to reach out to more who are unaware of this worldwide phenomenon.
The ep begins with "What They Bring", brutality unleashed at the first second. Classic Immolation- style riffing with the authoritative ruthlessness of Ross Dolan’s vocals. Unbeatable and impeccable drumming coupled with tempo changes soothe ears that have been starved of this New York death metal marvel for close to one and a half years. The second track, "Illumination", carries quite a blackened tone not seen quite often. The commanding kick drum leaves little to be desired. The riffs are catchy as ever, making one wonder how much heavier can these guys get. "Still Lost" is a track that walks hand in hand with complexity, or you could say technicality. The song gives you the feel of extreme metal being chewed up and spat out right on your face. The title track is not much of a thrill except for the sweet solo that it brings to the table. "Swallow the Fear", the last track, begins at a very different tempo, the kind that makes you feel like you’re marching off to war. Majestic riffing, incredible songwriting, and perfection portrayed.
Though the ep gets over in about twenty minutes, it has the potential to scar you for life just as their previous releases have. Immolation are a band that can make the devil tremble with fear and make the most religious guys count their blessings. One can never get enough of their unholy majesty and decay.
Once again death metal is in capable, battering hands when Immolation decides to open thy gates of hell and issue songs of violent design. The new EP Providence is one additional rung in the death metal ladder that is as defacing and deadly as anything they’ve put out beforehand, as this band has not one bad album in its whole discography.
“What They Bring” starts the experience quite horribly, literally punching in your face and issuing some of the same to the entire industry of music that ignores and belittles the metal world. The totality of Immolation’s brutal, yet distinctive sound is never diminished or thin, and this EP keeps the lineage indelibly invasive and vastly potent. “Illumination” absolutely destroys the dead air in the room by providing a haunting tone to the barrage of drum beats that literally move the blood at breakneck speed all through the body. Between this and the Autopsy album earlier this year these two American death metal acts are keeping the faith in death metal ever strong.
As usual Ross Dolan growls his way through five amazing tracks that prove that Immolation isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. That gurgling, pervasive vocal is what the genre was built upon from day one - the resounding sound of razors being spat onto unsuspecting Bieber fans! Also happily expectant is the thick drumming of Steve Shalaty, which kicks the listener in the teeth and it’s one of the most memorable things about this EP for me. As tight as ever, Immolation takes these five pieces of sickening art forms and utterly decimates their peers. “Swallow the Fear” is seriously one of the best Immolation tracks I’ve heard, and that says a lot considering how far back I go with this band.
The leads in “What They Bring” keep bringing me back to the track and ingrain them in my head because they’re so turbulent, and it’s pretty much like that with each of the other songs as well. This is an EP for the true death metal connoisseur and will separate the men from the Goths in eight notes of “Still Lost”, which carries in it one of the most destructive drumming sessions I’ve heard in some time; moreover, “Providence” talks of “raining death upon us” and makes you want it so intently, no matter how painful it might be. This is my favorite track because its caustic lyrics and tonal anger are both brilliantly crafted. Immolation is simply a band that does no wrong in a schoolyard bursting with shockingly mundane peers and pretenders that, frankly, need to be hit with the poser stick a bit harder and more often.
All over the board Providence is just an agitated venture into the lambasted psyche that can always use some further damage. For now this is a free download, but will be given away in CD and vinyl formats at the shows so there’s no excuse for you not to own one, right?
(Originally written for www.MetalPsalter.com)
I have never really listened to Immolation before, but it is a band name I've heard thrown around quite a bit. So keep in mind Providence is my first experience hearing the band. And I have to say I am quite happy with what they have presented here.
Coming in just under 20 minutes Providence packs a punch for being so short. I've listened to the whole thing 6 or 7 times now and I find myself still enjoying it. Ross Dolan has what I would consider along with Karl Willets the epitome of a death growl. Its deep but like Willets if you actually listen to the vocals you can still understand what Dolan is saying. It may be a little one dimensional but it doesn't hurt the album at all since it fits the music so well.
Robert Vigna and Bill Taylor create some really crushing riffs as well. Even the intros are instantly recognizable, like in Illumination, Providence, and Swallow the Fear. And the songs arent all fast or all slow either. They mix it up and you will find slower heavy riffing mixed in with riffing done at breakneck speeds.
As far as the drumming is concerned Steve Shalaty has a pretty solid performance. Its your usual death metal drumming and to my untrained ear I dont really have any issues with it. Though I have to admit there is a part in Illumination that sticks out where the guitars are more in the background and the drums are playing an almost jungle beat but sped up. Unfortunately as often happens I couldn't really hear Ross Dolan's bass playing which is one of the things that sucks. Had it been more audible it would have added a lot more punch to the sound I think.
Providence is a really good EP that I have enjoyed listening to. It holds all the qualities that you should look for in good death metal. Its even got a pretty dark tone to it as well, especially when you first hear the horror movie sounding orchestral intro to Illumination. Anyone who likes death metal should probably get a hold of this EP because they are missing out on some pretty solid stuff. If anything I wish this were longer...
Originally written @ http://abaddonsmetalshop.blogspot.com/
After I realized the Providence EP was available for free I quickly acquired it. After thoroughly enjoying both Dawn of Possession and Close To A World Below, I was eager to see if Immolation had something new to bring to the table.
Upon the first listen, I couldn't help but notice the clean production. It isn't over-polished, and it doesn't prevent brutality. The mixing has been done well. Each instrument can be heard well. The drums aren't too low in the mix. The vocals are at just the right level to have presence without overpowering the instrumentation.
The riffs are quite memorable. The guitar tone is good and does not become bland after a minutes like some death metal. I must also mention the fact that the solos are done well. The guitarist hasn't buried his tone in distortion. There are a few riffs which utilize tremolo picking well.
The drums are also consistent. Steve Shalaty does a great job on the drums. The drum fills and (blast) beats work well with the riffs and overall composition. The intro to the track, "Still Lost" has an onslaught of brutal blast beats. Also, I must point out that the snare (and the rest of the kit) doesn't sound too clicky. The drums actually flow well with the guitars. The guitar work on the first track sticks out to me the most to be honest.
There are no complaints from me as far as the vocals go. Ross Dolan delivers a good performance. A little monotonous? Sure. Does that take away from the replay value? Not at all (to me at least) After all, it is just a short EP. Dolan's vocals are partially understandable. He reminds me of Frank Mullen of Suffocation at times. Take a listen to the title track and maybe you'll hear the similarities as well.
One thing that was interesting to me was the intro to the second track. I love hearing uniqueness in death metal, and the title track is definitely unique. It's probably the most unique song on the album.
All in all, Providence is a solid EP. The band has once again delivered another above average release. If you have the time you should definitely take a listen
Knowing that bands like Immolation are able to maintain such a great sound in 2011 makes me wish Morbid Angel would have done the same.
Immolation have been around for a long time now. Over twenty five years to be more exact. To celebrate this, the band issued Providence, an EP that was released and literally given away for free. A gesture like that shows that the band cares, but still, something is different. Immolation have changed. This has nothing to do with simply giving away something for free, but it has something to do with the contents of it. What has changed?
The instrumentation in general is very tight, much in vein with their last full-length release. The guitars are less dissonant, and instead focus on blunt riffs. By no means are these bad. The bass guitar is heavily tangled into the guitars, having nearly no identity here. As for the drums, they harbor the biggest change, with more straight forward blasts and pounding than before. Once again, not a bad thing. As for the vocals, they are as they have always been, deep and thunderous roars.
The damnation or salvation if you would, with Providence are both the mixing and production. Production wise, this is very clean and similar to their last full-length, as with the mixing, the bass guitar is drowned, the drums are a tad loud, and the vocals a little more drowned than usual. The songwriting also takes a more typical direction, being more blunt and straight forward. The songs themselves are not badly structured, but they clearly deviate from the earlier works by Immolation.
The review could end here, but instead I will continue just a little more with my personal thoughts on Providence. Immolation have here started down a path towards mediocrity, this is much more conventional form of death metal than anything Immolation have done before. I do not like it. Within its own rights, it is far from bad, but I feel that by the standards Immolation have set in the past, this just do not fit very well in. It is too conventional.
So, what changed? Immolation did naturally. Every band experiment with new things once in a while. For better or worse, this might be the Immolation we will see more from...
Objective rating: 6,5/10
Personal rating: 5/10
The compromise is a clean 6/10
I hold Providence in my hands having received it for free at an Immolation show the other night. The band, in partnership with Scion A/V, has released this EP as a thank-you note to all their fans for almost 25 years of extreme dedication to one of death metal's finest bands. The EP also comes as a free digital download available directly from Scion's website. The aim here is two-fold, thank those who've held the flag for Immolation while trying to reach out to a greater fanbase who is perhaps unaware of Immolation's immense pedigree. And for those new to Immolation, Providence offers a brief, no-frills glimpse into the hierarchy of this almighty death metal machine. All of Immolation's classic hallmarks are on full display here: blunt-trauma riffage accentuated by pinched harmonic dissonance over intense poly-rhythms and blasting raptures of well-honed, intelligent NYDM.
As always, the songwriting is impeccable. "What They Bring" gallops forth in a flurry of double-bass and churning, multi-rhythmic riffage. The pinch-harmonic squeels in the breakdown sends shivers of dissonant melody down the spine as Ross Dolan spews forth his nigh-demonic vocals with a depth of clarity unrivaled. "Illumination" sets a blackened tone with its occult synths and funereal march tempos. The riffs in this song are simple yet devastating -- a stern reminder that Immolation can write catchy material without sacrificing one iota of heaviness. "Still Lost" retains a complexity familiar to those in love with Immolation's earliest period of knotty technicality while "Swallow The Fear" trods out a mid-paced barrage of beautifully textured, magisterial riffage. And while it was slow to grow on me, the title track has become a recent favorite: the opening riff is ominous; the entrance of the rhythm section beneath the vocal line, utterly devastating. These five tracks are a prime example of Immolation firing on all cylinders.
Providence offers all an Immolation fan could hope for in terms of crushing songwriting, exceptional production, and high value return on your time and investment (in this case, zero since it's free). The quality of songs present hints at even greater things to come from Immolation's next full-length, scheduled for recording sometime next year.
Another EP in the series of free (with paid physical alternative) and eclectic recordings being released through Scion A/V's metal division, Immolation's Providence joins Enslaved's Sleeping Gods and Wormrot's Noise as an example of something that the installed fan bases have no business missing out on, but should also appeal to a wider audience who are just stumbling across an act for their first time. It's the first of these partnerships to feature a pure death metal flavor, and also happens to be a great place to experience the New Yorkers with what amounts to strong production values and a full hand's spread of dynamic, blazing fingers that highlight the band's twisting, groove heavy medium marginally more accessible than their modern classics Unholy Cult or Close to a World Below.
The style obviously has not shifted much since last year's rather average full-length Majesty and Decay, but the riffs here feel more memorable and pronounced, more likely to sink directly into the listener's attention span, where in the past their albums have revealed a more mesmerizing undercurrent through repeated exposures. Still the same pinched squeals and harmonics in amongst the low end, swaggering double-bass sequences, still the gruff gutturals of Ross Dolan and occult, anti-Christian expositions in the lyrical fare. Often the material is thundered down with predictable intensity and jerking bursts of blast-work ("What They Bring", "Still Lost"), but the band also incorporate a surprising amount of atmosphere into something like "Illumination" with it's brooding, classical tinged march intro, or the deep bridge of the title track in which more ominous, echoed vocals and melodic guitar grazing bring about this heavily expansive motif.
It's an admittedly brief experience, below 20 minutes, and half of Immolation's appeal has traditionally been their ability to draw the audience slowly into their nihilistic disposition through about twice that length of content. But hell, it's free (with the option to pick up a copy at one of the band's North American gigs this year), so who can complain? Providence is primarily notable for that voluptuous guitar tone and the rhythmic unrest of its compositions, and for staying loyal to the band's evolving legacy without selling out the brutal elements that have endured them the respect of the death metal underground. I'm only hoping that their next full-length effort will provide a bludgeoning this impeccable.