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A necksnapping nightmare! - 93%

HealthySonicDiet, February 12th, 2004

When listening to this album, I was headbanging so much and so violently that I could have very well snapped my neck or injured myself in some way. It's really uncanny that I would say that because Immolation is well-known for using blastbeats, meatbeats, and other staples of 'normal' death metal in moderation. Immolation holds true to that formula on this album, but the drums are played so quickly as well as the guitars that you just can't help it. Immolation could almost be called a progressive death metal band, at least on this record, because most of the songs start out with some kind of eerie intro and have a climactic ending or something like that, where everything becomes more turbulent. My favorite songs of the album would have to be the first song Of Martyrs and Men and Sinful Nature, the second one. Those two songs are the most accessible-sounding without losing their progressive credibility. The evil atmosphere seems most prevalent on those two songs as well. The guys from Immolation must not follow the "Save the best for last" philosophy because, IMO, the first two songs are the best to be found on this album. As far as atmosphere goes, I'm a little disappointed because there isn't as much of a suffocating, hellish atmosphere on this record as many reviewers on EverlastingFire.Com claim there to be. Maybe it will seem that way on subsequent listens, though. I guess I'll have to buy Close to a World Below to see the best example of Immolation's hellish atmosphere, but the lyrical content and cover artwork offends me.
Another thing that bothers me on this album is that the songs tend to drag and sound similar. This is something I've noticed in death metal in general. Sometimes its hard to distinguish one song from another or say that you have a favorite track from the album because you have difficulty pointing out certain unique highlights of certain songs. I suppose that's the price Immolation pays for not being just plain 'brOOtal deth metul" and trying to rely more on atmosphere more than aggression. I commend them for their creativity, though.
Overall, this is a sinister, brutal record with delightfully unconventional arrangements and soloing, something not very common and noteworthy in death metal.