Immolation, "Shadows in the Light"
Immolation is one of those stalwart bands like Dismember and Bolt Thrower, that seem to always make the same album with each new release. Fans of these groups, however, will argue that the subtle improvements, changes and arrangements are enough to make the new release its own work, and a worthwhile purchase. I, being a follower of all three of these groups’ work, have to admit that there are plenty of similarities among each of their respective discographies. Of the three, though, only Immolation’s work is sophisticated and intricate enough to really survive such criticism, mostly because their sound is unmistakable, unique and fairly bizarre to begin with.
If you’re after sour chords, slow vocals atop speedy drumming, and thick chugging-guitar lines, look no further than the band’s 2007 release, Shadows in the Light. It’s pure, signature Immolation from the beginning of “Hate’s Plague” to the end of “Whispering Death.” The band’s game plan hasn’t shifted at all, and to the listener who hasn’t followed the group’s progression since Here in After, it will sound like all their other releases. Those of us who gratefully suffer through the blissful aural torture that is Unholy Cult or Harnessing Ruin, etc. will likely find that somehow Shadows in the Light feels smoother. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still heavy as a motherfucker, but instead of the disoriented, pummeled feeling caused by the band’s prior work, this disc may just permit you a second spin before all your strength has been sapped. Tracks like “Passion Kill,” “Breathing the Dark” and the title track have sections that the listener can really hang onto and wait for on subsequent listens. In fact, many of the songs show Immolation’s best songwriting arrangements yet, and inarguably fantastic guitar leads. Though I’m not sure the band has reached beyond the border of their die-hard fan base with Shadows in the Light, they’re ever so slowly moving in that direction, without sacrificing an ounce of their current identity.