Irreversible Mechanism‘s debut caused a bit of a stir when it came out in 2015, becoming one of the most successful new releases at the time for the now well-known metal/synthwave boutique label Blood Music. The appeal of Infinite Fields came from both its epic scale and technical wizardry, but like a lot of metal acts, the band achieved that scale via levels of choral and orchestral synthesis that would make Jari Maenpaa himself blush. As fun as it turned out to be, it was easy to write off the band as a young guitar wizard’s opulent vanity project, accomplished but ultimately lacking in the sort of levity that such maximalism chafes against. It’s not so easy to do the same with Immersion.
While Infinite Fields saw the band trying to add levels to an orchestra-heavy tower atop the style of tech death peddled by Inferi, Immersion takes a very different approach, ditching the strings and choirs for a slew of atmospherics cut straight from the Fallujah playbook. The resulting opus matches and even exceeds that band’s dynamism, as the album often finds itself caught between saturated bouts of technicality and pensive moments reminiscent of Riverside‘s Anno Domini High Definition. The formula succeeds in not only carving out a new personality for the band but also in rationing the album’s technicality into discrete doses, consumed in shots with an ample chaser.
Dynamic and unexpected, songs like “Simulacra” mark a huge departure in style for the band from maximal motion to maximal sound, shifting the band into an ever more progressive territory. “Sumulacra” is almost entirely electronic, with synthesizers buzzing and whirring around layered clean vocals in a thick and glistening suspension. “Limbo” even samples chattering violin, teasing perhaps at the symphonic ambitions of Infinite Fields and marking the album’s most Riverside-esque moment.
Each of these shorter, more atmospheric songs introduce a longer and far more intense follow-up, each with a personality all its own. “Footprints in the Sand” proves both the most ambitious and least successful of the album’s songs, capping a largely linear series of Fallujah riffs with a nearly two-minute outro existing only to shoehorn in a monologue from The Matrix. On the other hand, the title track’s stronger structure and somewhat tighter run allow it to feel both expansive and conclusive. The penultimate track, “Awakening” is even better, segueing between plateaus with a harmonized, tapped lead that seems to fall into place from on high.
Yet even with such strengths, Immersion can’t shake what it is, and that’s shameless Fallujah-worship. The band’s riffing style, backing tracks, lead tone, drumming, and even vocals sound far less like Inferi and far more like Fallujah. It seems that as mastermind Vladislav Nekrash built the band around himself, he recruited members specifically based on the end goal of a record that sounds very little like Infinite Fields and very much like The Flesh Prevails — from the Alex Hoffman impression right down to the clipping in the clean guitar in “Footprints in the Sand.” The material as written generally succeeds — though 52 minutes stretches the album into tiresome territory — but it’s impossible to shake the feeling that the band is a little more than a heavily computer-aided knockoff machine.
Immersion establishes beyond a doubt that Irreversible Mechanism are more than just an overorchestrated bedroom project and fleshes out a new identity for the band. Yet that identity is so obviously derivative that it’s diffcult to know whether the band are truly capable of great ideas or merely extremely skilled at emulation. Few fans of Fallujah will grumble about hearing a new album that sounds so much like The Flesh Prevails, but Irreversible Mechanism bring so little else to the table that one finds it difficult to imagine the band will keep up the charade. It will be interesting to see if the band can keep up the business of being a few years behind the hot new album in tech death for a third LP and end up producing an even more over-the-top facsimile of Shadow of Intent in 2021.