[27th December 2012]
04. Written in Stone
05. Meet Your Maker
Right, The Baboon is not a fan of intro tracks that aren’t music. They come in all sorts and flavors, but the most common sort is that with a horror movie ambience and crying or screaming human beings. Never understood the point of these. Likely most listeners will skip such an intro after they’ve heard it once, so why bother? If the point is to shock the audience, then that makes even less sense, as there would clearly be a mismatch between audience and purpose. Metalheads are accustomed to music that is violence, noisy and, arguably, cruel, so who are you trying to shock? Anyfuck, the point here is that in reflecting such tracks the end conclusion is always that it’s just cheap filler material.
That’s a ‘-1’ for Beyond Reckoning, Swedish band Immolate’s latest EP, but from there on shit gets positive. Beyond Reckoning is the five-song follow up to the self-titled EP this death-thrash band from Malmö released in 2010, and it’s a whole lot more professional. Moreover, the overall sound has also evolved a lot as well, shedding some of the melodic roots and stepping up the punch.
First thing that stands out in comparison is that there are a whole lot more blast beats; the really tight and tense type that is such a common feature in black metal. Drummer Marcus Johansson has really stepped up his game and his work is now a much more prominent feature of the release. In addition – and this is partly a result of a much improved recording quality – the drums integrate a lot better within each of the songs, driving and initiating more of the melody and groove that happens on the other instrumentation.
Guitarwise, Immolate have stepped down the amount of melodic lead guitaring at the benefit of more edgy riffage. Jagged is a term that comes to mind, perhaps enforced by the slightly chaotic nature of the band’s tunes. Thankfully, they haven’t completely let go of the melodic inclination of their previous EP, as witnessed by Beyond Reckoning’s closer, titled “Meet Your Maker“. After a frenzy-full start, the song turns to a calm and soothing section of clean guitars, with almost jazzy leads and soloing. It’s towards the end of this section that Carl-Henrik Karlsson’s raw-ass growling truly shines, as it contrasts brilliantly with the musical purity that precedes it.
“Meet Your Maker” is without doubt the shining star on Beyond Reckoning, on account of the balance the band have found between chaotic frenzy, melodic beauty and thumping groove. Contrast and variation are keywords here and these are the elements that make metal worthwhile to The Baboon – in particular when reinforced by intelligent recording, mixing and mastering.
This is, perhaps, the area in which Immolate have made the greatest strides since 2010. Where the previous EP’s overall mix could be considered still somewhat flat and devoid of dynamic layering, this new effort is almost exactly the opposite. It breathes richness and dynamics, which, mind you, doesn’t come across fully in the below YouTube upload. Where yours truly often has a critique or two on quality of recording and mixing, there’s nothing but awesome about Beyond Reckoning.
Looking at the individual elements of recording, style and song quality, Immolate haven’t even grown so much, but the combined total that is Beyond Reckoning is an helluvalot stronger than its predecessor. It goes to show that true quality is often created in the extra mile. For those with a mind for death thrash, Beyond Reckoning is an incredibly tasty little bite!