A Reconciliation With All That Is Unholy
“Atonement” is loosely defined as the process of making reparations for previous wrongs, or reconstructing one’s relationship with their god in a religious sense. In the case of Immolation’s latest release, Atonement is nothing short of a reconciliation with all that is unholy in this world. The baleful and malefic introduction to the album during “The Distorting Light” solidifies this sentiment with a frightening, clean-toned atmosphere that erupts into a symphony of artificial harmonics, tremolo picking and purely psychotic drums, seemingly out of nowhere.
The album marches forth into “When the Jackals Come” and continues with the apocalyptic architecture upon which the album is built. Ross Dolan’s vocals act as a pillar that holds the entire musical structure of Atonement together, as it is once again nothing short of monumental in nature. Though the vocal quality is especially robust, it does not detract from Robert Vigna’s transcendent performance on guitar. All of the skills amassed as a musician at the forefront of the death metal community are on full display throughout Vigna’s almost clinical exhibition on this release. Those who have been exposed to Immolation’s previous enterprises will certainly be familiar with the music here — not in the sense that it is redundant, but in the same way that the great classic novels of old resemble the author’s personality throughout their entire body of work.
As one of the few remaining bastions of death metal, Immolation continue to lay waste to the confines of popular thought in order to create works that challenge societal norms. Atonement is no different than any other Immolation album in that regard; at no point throughout the composition does it feel as if the band are doing anything less than pushing their own boundaries as far as humanly possible on what will surely be regarded as one of the best death metal albums of the year.