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The Essence of Death Metal Incarnate - 100%

serial_killer_miller, June 25th, 2008

When someone says to you describe death metal. What do you say? I say if you want to know what death metal is just listen to Immolation's Unholy Cult album and you will need no further explanation. As my review title suggests to me Unholy Cult is the essence of death metal. I know that is a very bold statement however I will explain my reasoning so that hopefully I am able to persuade some of you nay sayers.

First off, this album has a fantastic opening track. It includes a build up and an absolutely punishing opening riff. It also doesn't hurt that the song has one of the most creative titles I've ever read, "Of Martyrs and Men" which really sets the tone for an absolute blasphemous onslaught that actually has some very creative and well thought out lyrics.

We all know that a tired cliché in death metal especially is the subject of anti-Christianity. We see it time and time again from bands such as Behemoth, Drawn and Quartered, Aeon, and of course Deicide. What sets Immolation apart especially from the later two, is that the lyrics are actually well thought out and you could even go as far to say there are some valid points within them as well. Instead of the typical "Kill the Christian" jargen. We instead hear lines such as "I Reluctant Messiah show us the way, don't let us down we have no one left" or "Our curse is our own, I Know we're to blame, We're born into shame, to live in despair." These are just a couple of the numerous examples found within this album that help to paint a grim picture of humanity as a whole and also deliver an actual message that may be painful to swallow for some, but it definitely has a lot of truth to it.

Another thing that makes this album stand out from a typical death metal album is the production. Unholy Cult is one of the very few albums whose production is absolutely flawless. You are able to hear every instrument in the way it was meant to be heard. The guitars are loud and clear, the bass is heavy yet not crunchy and it doesn't buzz either. Instead, it is the perfect bass line for this album. Alex Hernandez puts forth his last and best effort behind the kit. Every piece of his kit can be heard the way it is meant to be heard rich, pounding, and punishing sound.

So what do I say when someone asks me what is death metal? I tell them to listen to Immolation's Unholy Cult album, because it really is the essence of what a true death metal album should be.