Immolation – Kingdom of Conspiracy

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Seminal death metal act Immolation have had one of the most consistently impressive discographies in death metal. From their debut masterwork, Dawn of Possession in ’93 to their ninth and particularly impressive record Majesty and Decay, Immolation have spent the last twenty-five years creating some of the most impressive and well-loved technical death metal in the scene. Defined by Robert Vigna’s unique and atonal riffing, the use of drums that emulate the guitar styles to forge a tight and impressive sound, and Ross Dolan’s eloquent and powerful vocals, Immolation has long out-shined many of their contemporaries with nary a hitch in their long career. While some albums were not as exciting or as groundbreaking as others, the band has arguably never made a bad album, and 2013’s Kingdom of Conspiracy doesn’t see that changing any time soon, even if it does see the band settling into a comfortable niche.

While it is true that Immolation have hardly changed an atom since their previous album, Kingdom of Conspiracy doesn’t let the listener down when it comes down to what Immolation do best; heavy, riff-laden death metal. Vigna is as on-point as ever, pulling out an arsenal of memorable jams that won’t disappoint, even if it is all a little familiar. In fact, one could wager that some of his best moments can be found scattered throughout the record. A personal favourite is at 3:41 in ‘Indoctrinate’, where the song was once a usual affair of brutally fast and unrelenting dissonant riffs, it breaks down into a slow-running technical riff and a melodic solo, Dolan eventually chanting alongside, ”The sadness of wasted life/the sadness of silenced dreams/sorrow for these unwary victims/witness the loss of all identity.”  The lyrics tackle the album’s noble (if rather cliché) theme of a society in shackles, supported by Dolan’s powerful vocals which sound just as good as they usually do, but I can’t help but feel that Kingdom of Conspiracy lacks any classic hooks that Dolan usually whips out with each album. Instead the vocals are steady, coherent and enjoyable, but seem to really lack a certain flavour that the listener has come to enjoy or expect.

The album’s production is a cause for concern. As with most modern music, the production techniques here leave the music brickwalled, everything too loud for its own good, and the music suffers from it. The overproduced drums sound plastic and steal the shine away from the strong songwriting, everything else in the mix warring to be heard. But as it stands, the production doesn’t really ruin the music, rather it just holds it back. The music lacks a certain atmosphere that Immolation usually has in spades, and before you know it the album has careened by in a collection of tracks that all stand quite well on their own but do little to serve as a coherently constructed body of work altogether. Immolation know their own styles too well, and as a whole have created an album that does its best to hold up those styles, but really fails to breathe as flawlessly as an album like Close to a World Below.

All in all, Kingdom of Conspiracy is a solid set of songs by Immolation. The riffs are there. At times they’re massive, off-kilter and encompass everything a fan loves from Immolation’s music. The band’s musicianship is as strong as ever, everyone falling into the one another’s niche. The drums read the guitars perfectly and Dolan’s vocals provide the harrowing voice of ruination beside them. But aside from a few key moments that really see the band at their highest moments, the rest is the old Immolation we know and love, and as a result is something we don’t really need to hear again. The album sits comfortably within the band’s discography, but it does nothing to contest the classics that came before.

Tracklist

1. Echoes Of Despair

2. Keep The Silence

3. Kingdom Of Conspiracy

4. Serving Divinity

5. The Great Sleep

6. Indoctrinate

7. A Spectacle Of Lies

8. God Complex

9. Bound To Order

10. All That Awaits

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