After participating in the initial wave of innovation in New York death metal in the late '80s and early '90s, Immolation continued to develop in a harmonically dense, technical direction. On their fourth full-length album, Close to a World Below, they find a late career voice. While time signatures remain elusive and chord voicings remain convoluted, the total number of riffs per song is significantly reduced. While individual parts have more breathing room, the overall effect is significantly more suffocating. Lurching, percussive passages intimidate and horrify, and dissonant chords create a thick sonic fog. The combination of dissonance, doomy passages, and bizarre guitar techniques treads into the same otherworldly territory Gorguts mapped out on 1998's Obscura. The most remarkable thing about Close to a World Below is the capacity for specific melodic and rhythmic motifs to rise out of the chaos and grab the listener. Immolation's intuition remains grounded in themes that easily touch subconscious desires for melodic resolution and rhythmic satisfaction. While Immolation were New York death metal innovators during the late '80s and early '90s, they also released one of the most profound and creative death metal albums of the 2000s, giving a new voice to a genre deluged with cookie-cutter clones.
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AllMusic Review by Todd Nief