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Close to a World Below

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  • Immolation creates a paradox with their music. On the one hand, the music is superficially your typical brutal, oldschoolish, New York death metal, with typical anti-Christian lyrics. But wait. The attentive listener will find that upon examining this work further, layers of depth reveal themselves like scales falling from the sinner’s eyes. A similar phenomenon happens w/fellow NY death metallers Suffocation. But these guys don’t exactly sound like Suffocation, or any other band actually. Under the brutality and technicality lurks hellish melody and *gasp* emotion. The ignorant who say that the lyrics are cliche and simply composed for “shock” value aren’t paying attention. Unlike the mindless anti-Christian aggression of bands like Deicide, Immolation’s lyrics are highly personal, metaphorical, and emotional. (In interviews, Immolation refers to themselves as “unholy” rather than “evil.”) Rather than expressing their hatred for all things holy by talking about burning down the Vatican or some such nonsense, these compositions explore psyches damaged by spiritual poisoning. The music manages to reflect these ideas well. The thunderous drumming, the shredding guitars, the grinding bass, and the grunt-barks (surprisingly understandable at times, even w/o a lyric sheet), all convey the anger and outrage at being deceived. And yet, without female or clean vocals, classical instruments, acoustic passages, or any letup in the brutality whatsoever, melody manages to thrive through odd time signatures and tempo changes, and strange instrument juxtapositioning that creates dissonance and harmony at the same time. It’s hard to explain exactly what the music does, and I don’t think words can adequately explain it, anyway. Again, it simply amazes me how they can seem both furious and intimidating as well as vulnerable and anguished at the same time, such as in “Father, You’re Not a Father” (“Our father who aren’t in heaven/Inside of me, my soul is lost/My manhood, so miniscule, was stolen/The Rosary has gripped tight around my neck”) and “Lost Passion” (“My devotion to you was complete/I’ve carried the weight of your cross/The burden of life presses me/These nails are in too deep/My passion suffocates me/Jesus you suffocate me”). One last note to those who think these lyrics are merely penned for offensiveness: read some interviews with these guys. You’ll see that these lyrics are from the heart, since they were once Christian and felt that it was damaging to them. And, having once been Christian myself and feeling pretty much the same way about the damaging thing, I can say that this band effectivly conveys, musically and lyrically, the kind of pain caused by Christianity.

    Posted on March 7, 2010