Age can be a great thing for an artist. With age comes experience, with experience comes wisdom and that wisdom can lend an artist to writing about more pertinent and insightful subjects. Of course, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes age leads an artist to retread on past material, to rehash what they’ve already done. Sometimes age reveals that the artist has no new creative ideas; unfortunately for may just be the case for New York’s Immolation.
Immolation have been around since 1986 and have released 10 studio albums since their formation. As most artists will do, Immolation have developed a format and a pattern for their brand of death metal and that is no different on their latest album Atonement. The issue however is that they perfected this sound on their 2000 LP Close to a World Below. Back then the sound was fresh, dark, and evil-sounding; there was nothing else around in extreme metal that sounded quite like it. Today however, it simply sounds like the band is retreading on ideas that performed better in the past.
No tracks on Atonement particularly stick out. If you’ve heard an Immolation album in the past you know exactly what to expect from them, and that’s exactly what you get. The album is by no means bad; it’s much better than most albums in their genre being released today. It’s just a boring album, and for a band who released an absolute extreme metal classic like Close to a World Below, that is disappointing. Maybe this is due to age. Maybe this is due to a lack of fresh new ideas. Maybe this is even a result of their record label Nuclear Blast neutering them. Whatever the result, it’s simply a disappointing albeit not bad by any means album.
All that being said, I would still recommend any fans of extreme metal give this album a spin or two; these old dogs don’t have any new tricks but they still perform their old tricks well. When you’ve dissected the album enough, dig deeper into their discography. Immolation is a truly great band, and they’re rightfully considered mainstays in the death metal scene.
I give Atonement a 3.5/5.