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Album Reviews : Immolation – Majesty and Decay

By on June 27, 2010

Majesty and Decay. I heard fantastic things about this album from various places, which is why I decided to review it. I certainly love many walks of death metal, and have little concern for others. It’s probably metal’s ‘widest’ genre, by which I mean it receives the largest amount of abuse as a blanket term than any other genre of metal. There is an unbelievably large number of bands that get lumped with the label of ‘death metal’, largely I think because people don’t want to create 100’s of new genres for only a few bands, and they feel a compulsive need to categorise bands into genres. Consequently, asking someone “are you into death metal?” can be about as vague as asking “do you like music with guitars?”. The point is, there are plenty of bands I love and many I don’t that fall under “death metal”.

Immolation‘s breed of death metal on first listen sounds like something I really wouldn’t like. Certainly, several listens into the album, this seemed to be confirmed. It was like they had taken all the mediocre parts of each kind of death metal and blended them together to give their own unique, clichéd brew of monotonous, constant sound, without retaining any original, identifiable or classy characteristics that each type of death metal seems to retain. Not quite technical enough to be a good tech-death album, but technical enough to lose interest again and again. Not straight-forward enough to have the crushing simplicity of older death metal bands, but simple enough to lack any variety. It sounded like a losing combination on all fronts.

The production continues with this trend, its ‘clean’ enough so you can hear everything, which I don’t mind at all, considering their music gets a little tricky in sections. But it’s just that – it doesn’t have a crushing edge to it. It’s a strangely quiet, clear-enough-to-be-boring-sounding album. Not well produced enough to make an impression, and not under-produced enough to give it a characteristic vibe. It’s the production that takes a seat in the far corner of the room and doesn’t really show off any of its features, but performs at an average standard.

So this album seems like a compendium of the mediocre. But after several listens, I realised there’s a little bit more. Listening to how all the instruments interact, the rhythm guitars are always well matched and partnered with the drums. The leads are strange yet haunting. On the surface the blend and elements of the album all seem to be chosen in poor taste but beneath the surface there are slight shimmers of interesting work. I would be lying if I said Immolation’s sound is original, but I also find it difficult to list another band they sound very similar to. It’s similar in a big perspective, but specifically it’s difficult to say what exactly the album similar to. Perhaps a ‘unique blend of familiar elements’ has a positive and a negative aspect to it. There are ‘introduction’ and ‘interlude’ tracks, not just your straight up “12 tracks that are brutal from the first second until the last second”. This album seems cliché on the surface, but little bits of interesting and different aspects of the album come out over time.

That’s not to negate the fact that a lot of the album is reasonably unappealing. If I were to compare it to the bar that’s been set by some death metal bands, it can only begin to approach it. But it’s not something that should be instantly tossed away either. 6.7/10

Band: Immolation
Album: Majesty and Decay
Year: 2010
Genre: Death metal
Label: Nuclear Blast/Riot!
Origin: USA
http://www.myspace.com/immolation

Tracklisting:
1. Intro
2. The Purge
3. A Token of Malice
4. Majesty and Decay
5. Divine Code
6. In Human Form
7. A Glorious Epoch
8. Interlude
9. A Thunderous Consequence
10. The Rapture of Ghosts
11. Power and Shame
12. The Comfort of Cowards

About

Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.