Immolation

Harnessing Ruin

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    9
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Almost uniquely within their generation, New York City's Immolation continue to battle against the constraints of their extreme genre, and have helped maintain exciting, inventive, and ever-evolving American death metal throughout the mid-2000s. Even without altering their basic, authentically brutal sound all that much from album to album, Immolation refuse to hide conveniently behind unfathomable depths of cavernous riffing and sub-guttural vocals to make up for a lack of what people in the know call "songwriting talent." No sir, for you see Immolation possess that increasingly rare talent, and some might correctly argue that "Swarm of Terror" -- the excellent first track from their sixth album, 2005's Harnessing Ruin -- accomplishes more for the state of American-bred death metal on its own than entire legions of contenders and pretenders as of late. Seriously, it's difficult to resist hyperbole or contain one's enthusiasm before the sheer harmonic density and dynamic variety displayed by instantly memorable offerings like the above, "Our Savior Sleeps," and "Challenge the Storm," which effortlessly swing from full-on onslaughts to slow-riffing, dread-inducing passages. The mid-album pairing of "Son of Iniquity" and "My Own Enemy" loses a few points for dragging things out just a tad beyond expected, but hardly detract from additional winners like the title track, "Crown the Liar," "At Mourning's Twilight," and the particularly stunning "Dead to Me" -- all of them encouraging aggressive catharsis through their inexorable riffing, evil-sounding melodies, and -- occasionally -- even unexpected use of black metal synthesizers. All told, these nine songs constitute an embarrassment of riches, and deliver a much-needed shot in the arm for the American death metal scene.

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