Immolation are one of death metal’s best known bands, rooting in the NYDM scene of the 1990s, they have produced some of the most widely worshiped death metal records of all time. Oddly enough, they’re not a band that this Angry Metal Guy was particularly familiar with, as the path to death metal went through more melodic bands. But I have heard rumors of their greatness, technical prowess and their tendency to put out excellent records. Immolation‘s 2010 release has seen them living up to this reputation as being one of death metal’s greats with their Nuclear Blast debut Majesty and Decay.
Majesty and Decay is 45 minutes of groove based, but still fairly technical death metal of the type that came up during the early 1990s. Even though the band has been around for a couple of decades, they sound remarkably fresh. Despite being worried from the opening riff of “The Purge”, which is probably the most generic “death metal riff” on the entire album, the album quickly morphed into a groove happy, headbanging inducing death metal masterpiece. The riffs are pummeling and thick. The rhythm section is powerful and adroit, and the songwriting is straight forward enough to not lose listeners while still being technically interesting to listen to.
Following the intro, the first three tracks are really the highlight of this record. They pound out of the speakers with their power and draw the listener back again with their hooks and groove. That’s not to say, however, that the rest of the album is lacking in solid tracks. Throughout the whole album songs stand out for me, “A Glorious Epoch” is probably the highlight for me, while much slower than some of the other songs on the record, it still includes some of the best melodies and riffs on the album. The same is true for “The Rapture of Ghosts”, with its great opening riff and guitar lead, and “The Comfort of Cowards”, which draws the record to a close with a blast of power.
Majesty and Decay also wins in that it clocks in at about 45 minutes long, which is probably about perfect. The band has time to hook you, play out the sound and show off their songwriting and then they keep it short (and vinyl friendly, hint hint!). The structure is great, though the introduction and interlude feel a tad unnecessary, the songs flow and mesh well without flowing into each other and losing their uniqueness. The only complaint that I have is that one could say that the band isn’t necessarily progressing the sound at all. Some have criticized the album for being a replay of the things that Immolation is good at and that there’s no progression from the band. Long time fans who are familiar with the band’s entire discography might feel this way, but as a new listener you probably won’t. Immolation shows off everything that they do well on Majesty and Decay and they don’t overstay their welcome. This leaves the listener pummeled and satisfied when the album comes to its close. Hopefully that’s how we’ll all feel about it at the end of the year.