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Point of inflection. - 90%

6CORPSE6GRINDER6, October 22nd, 2012

“Failures for Gods” featured drummer Alex Hernández and was recorded at Millbrook Sound Studios, but it wasn’t until “Close to a World Below” were the band’s drummer reached his full potencial as a drummer and the band recorded his best studio output in terms of production at that time, and for many their main opus. They did good giving the studio a second chance, they haven’t left it since. “Unholy Cult” is not as savage as its predecessor, in terms of production or composition, but it shows a more refined side of the band with a “delicate” twist, within the borders of their demoniac death metal of course. Hernández evolution towards a “riff oriented” and attached drum pattern preference fits perfectly some new tricks the band added in the string department, a more simple kind of riffing giving space to dissonant arpeggios and enchanted pinch harmonics.

Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication; this album is a living proof of that statement. It marks an inflection point in the band’s carrier because it is the first record were they choose utterly emotion over technicality most of the time, not always but mostly. While their performance got simpler on the fretboard, riffs got more memorable in this late period of Immolation. The doomed atmosphere they evoked is now spread wider with riffs focusing on the overall feel more that in the malignancy and awkwardness of their selves, having a more collective sense. The epics “Unholy Cult” and “Reluctant Messiah” are fruits of this glimpse of distress they acquired in the string work. The drumming is also more thought out because there are more slow paced sections to be creative, and they are well spent definitely. This is the first album featuring Bill Taylor on guitars; maybe his contribution is the explanation of the band’s sound evolution in strings.

Bass guitar is an integral part of the band’s sound for the first time I would dare to say, giving it a more surrounding and “hugging” edge. You can clearly hear between the guitars the nice metallic sound of the down tuned strings hitting the fretboard as if there is no tomorrow. The punch it adds to the riffs is incredible, because of the sweet and sober tone of Ross Dolan. His vocals are as tortured and god forsaken as they were the first day, raging against the son of Bethlehem with his trademark deep and crunchy growls that are yet still clear enough to understand the words yelled. The blunt and forceful, solid and convincing guitar distortion they developed with the years works perfectly over those bass lines, and better than the roach nest sound of the old days that I love I would say, nostalgic. This album production is overwhelmingly heavy and low end oriented.

“Unholy Cult” was in its moment where the band pushed further their limits in terms of composition, their most different record… at least at the time, latter on they decided to continue with this new sound, a decision I support entirely.