Monday, July 8, 2013

Immolation - Kingdom of Conspiracy

Immolation is one of the few remaining old school death metal bands that are still strong as hell. Along with Grave, Cannibal Corpse, Jungle Rot, Sinister, Vader, Suffocation, and a few other death metal bands that have been around since the early 1990s and before, Immolation have remained fairly consistent and are still blowing people into the dirt. In fact, Immolation is probably one of the single most consistent death metal bands ever because of how they’ve never released a bad album. The closest that they’ve ever come to that was with Harnessing Ruin and Shadows in the Light, which aren’t even average records, so that doesn’t really mean much. Especially since the album that came after those two is considered to be one of Immolation’s best albums, that album being Majesty and Decay.

So while in the middle of a shitload of touring (during which I had the pleasure to see them open for Nile with Krisiun and Abigail Williams), the band released what I personally consider to be one of their best releases ever, a five-song EP titled Providence. In my review of that, I simply stated that it’s pretty much a continuation of the growing intensity and energy that Majesty and Decay left behind. Well, here’s the mighty follow-up to that record, and it’s not quite what we all expected.

Let’s start off by taking a short moment to look at the artwork. There’s nothing too significant about it besides the fact of how fucking cool it is. It’s probably one of the best album covers the band has ever released. It’s also just one of those covers that instantly ties in the album title with the imagery. But as amazing as visual art is, we need to look at the auditory art that Immolation just released.

The song structures on Kingdom of Conspiracy are much more interesting and intricate than before, so the band is obviously doing some pushing and exploring. It’s mainly the increased variety in style on Kingdom of Conspiracy that makes it different from the rest of their albums. The same drum patterns that Harnessing Ruin and…well…just about every other Immolation album besides Majesty and Decay brought us are nowhere to be heard on this album, so it’s somewhat of a relief. Although Immolation have finally chosen to move on from their old sound after perfecting it, there are some issues that are starting to pop up on this particular record. The biggest issue is that although the song structures are more complex, they aren’t as solid as they should be. Let’s do a bit of comparison work with Majesty and Decay because this is actually really interesting. In Majesty and Decay, the much more complex song structures were very solid; the band moved on to the next part of the song at just exactly the right time. But in Kingdom of Conspiracy, these transitions are irregular and don’t feel quite as right. There are some parts where the band decides to move on to the next section right when you’re just starting to get into the previous part (annoying) and other parts where everything is dragged out to the point of being really over-repetitive.

This is actually quite a blow because of how high Majesty and Decay and Providence [EP] set the bar. But in all honesty, the uncertain sound of the album is the only con; everything else is exactly what you can expect from Immolation. The guitar and bass lines are casual, but devastatingly brutal, there’s always that underlying groovy feel to everything that they do, and the musicianship is outstanding. Instrumentally, the biggest improvement that Kingdom of Conspiracy brings is the drumming. The drumming is a thousand times more interesting to listen to than on other Immolation records like Unholy Cult and Harnessing Ruin (just to throw some examples out there). What I still would like to hear is some more interesting bass, which is probably not something that will happen since it’s just not the Immolation-thing to do to put the bass out on the frontline like that. But with the increasing complexity of the drums, it’s starting to look like we could possibly see the other members make their parts more complex as well.

Kingdom of Conspiracy is yet another strong album from Immolation. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the expectation that Majesty and Decay and Providence [EP] set, but it’s Immolation, they still have yet to put out a bad album. Fans of pure death metal, you’ve probably already heard this record. But if you haven’t I would recommend it after you listen to some of their other stuff. I would give Kingdom of Conspiracy a score of 15/20.