Immolation has always been a band with a distinct sound. When you think about it, being all that authentic in a scene that is widely considered as the “standard” of death metal is quite a tricky feat. Given the necessary technical ability, any group of musicians can shell out a collection of highly down-tuned riffs, a procession of guttural shouts topped off with infinite double bass drumming, but that doesn’t sound too authentic now, does it? But when I think of Immolation, the word “punishing” always comes to mind. These guys have consistently delivered some of the most punishing down-tuned riffs, guttural vocals and pounding drums in the business and this is why they have been highly revered ever since their debut full-length Dawn of Possession came out 20 years ago.
Now, with 2012 right around the corner, we find ourselves at the behest of another punishment from these New York Death Metal old timers. This EP comes under the title Providence [is available for free here – AMG] and it contains five tracks that hardly add up to 19 minutes. The sheer intensity of Immolation’s death metal will hit you as soon as opening track “What They Bring” fires off. Of course the typical elements of their sound are still there and the stand out moments are, as usual, few. But that’s the beauty of Immolation because their albums have always had a feeling of coherence, despite what chaos or monotony a casual listener might imagine. Ending track “Swallow the Fear” is definitely my favorite track on Providence because of its very catchy riffing and because of Steve Shalaty’s unconventional drumming that we’ve come to anticipate ever since he claimed drumming duties in 2002.
Short, sharp and blistering guitar solos are also available on this blistering EP; check out those on the title track and the aforementioned “Swallow the Fear.” Front-man Ross Dolan delivers yet again some commanding vocals while his long time accomplice Robert Vigna shreds our faces to bits on his guitar; this is brutality at its finest. We’ve seen a confirmation of the collapse of Morbid Angel this year but Vader restored our hopes in the old guard and now Immolation comes out with this respect-demanding beast. Their 2007 effort Shadows In the Light may have divided fans a bit but they’ve completely rectified that with last year’s very well received Majesty and Decay and now they’ve put all doubt six feet below the ground with Providence.
Don’t leave 2011 without giving this badass record a few listens. After all, this is a year with revolutions in the middle-east, a tsunami in Japan, floods in Thailand, economic collapse in Europe and a volcano in Chile which makes brutal death metal a most fitting addition.