When we normally think of death metal, our minds tend to immediately think about the richness of the Florida scene that sprung from the depths of the swamps surrounding Tampa. While giving credit to bands like Obituary, Morbid Angel, and Atheist, we cannot help but emphasize New York's contribution as well. Growing up in the New York City area myself in the 80's, there are two death metal bands that always have stood out: Long Island's Suffocation and Immolation from none other than Yonkers (pronounced [YON] + [KUHZ]) in lower Westchester County – y'know, in the not-so-rich-at-all part of Westchester County that borders the Bronx. Suffice to say, Immolation's bleak and extreme brand of death metal seems to mesh perfectly with their geographic surroundings.
Fans of Immolation are not going to be surprised with this new record, Acts Of God. It's very much signature style Immolation. So that means that all of those vicious riffs over pouding double-bass is going to be front and center in every track. It's unrelenting, large-scale, bombastic, sonic destruction. This is ever-so-present in the first single off the record, "Apostle."
"Apostle" demonstrates the stellar production at the hands of Paul Orofino and Zack Ohren. This type of music isn't easy to master and mix in a way that gives all instruments and sounds enough space, but I really love what the production team has done here. This is one of the band's best sounding records in the digital age. I've listened to it on headphones, car audio and my favorite Edifier bookshelf speakers – sounds great on all of them.
Another song I really love on this new record is the first cut after the intro, "An Act of God." It makes a statement with it's time changes, blistering rhythms and Vigna's signature guitar tone. That tone is what makes Immolation instantly recognizable and distinct. Immolation without Vigna is like a Katz's pastrami sandwich without mustard.
"The Age of No Light" is another absolute banger that amps up the speed and features lots of tremolo in the guitars. Gotta love those massive blast beats in the middle of cut as well. There's an urgency in the track that resonates so well with today's bleak world being literally consumed by smoke and pollution. Perhaps this is a bit reticent of the New York experience as New York City has, once again, entered a stage of decline. "The Age of No Light" is a dark song for the dark times we exist in.
"When Halos Burn" is another standout track that changes speeds like a Gerrit Cole pitching performance. It keeps the listener on their toes as the band weaves through their signature brutality in a dazzling array of intervals. Kind of like riding one of those over priced Pelotons. Adding a bit of contrast are more brooding and slower cuts like "Let the Darkness In" which trades breakneck riffing for dense atmosphere.
Overall, Acts Of God is a record full of rich hooks and speaker popping beats. But that's 100% what we expect from these three decade vets who have marched on proudly through passing trends and fancies. Immolation is the blue collar death metal band with the executive level precision. Acts Of God is another Immolation release that makes no apologies and delivers exactly as promised. Leave little doubt.