[10th May 2013]
01. Kingdom Of Conspiracy
02. Bound To Order
03. Keep The Silence
04. God Complex
05. Echoes Of Despair
07. The Great Sleep
08. A Spectacle Of Lies
09. Serving Divinity
10. All That Awaits Us
The landscape of death metal is a harsh and crowded one; a vast forest subject to many raging fires. While young trees find it easy to initially take root; to grow old and tall, they must weather the flames that consume so many others. The bands that have stood the test of time often do so by staking out their piece of sonic territory and delivering their particular brand of brutality effectively and consistently. The ninth full-length release from technical-death metal pioneers Immolation, titled Kingdom of Conspiracy, is a perfect example of just this kind of effectiveness and consistency, although suffering somewhat for it.
From the opening and title track of the album “Kingdom of Conspiracy” there is no mistaking that this is an Immolation album. With the help of Paul Orofino, who has produced every one of the band’s albums since 1999′s, Failures for Gods, Immolation has honed a signature sound: a blend of frantic drumming, discordant riffage, and almost signature harmonic squeals, all layered under verses of demonically growled vocals. From the outset, Kingdom of Conspiracy delivers on this formula with a pounding onslaught of old-school death metal.
Sonically, there’s a lot to like in this album. Each song is polished, with the drums big and clear and punchy, the guitars present, aggressive, and well balanced, and the bass rumbling characteristically low in the mix. Tracks such as “Keep the Silence” unfold like a tribute to the “good old days” of death metal, a head banging, straight ahead romp that compels one to wade into a mosh pit, pick someone up, and throw them. Nowhere on this album will you find glitchy computer sampled drum beats, synthesizer pads, or any hint of clean vocals. The production is straight ahead, relying on the ferocity of each player’s performance, rather than the studio polish present on so many other modern death metal albums.
Despite each track being clean and well-presented, with each riff crushing and each drum fill pounding, the same consistency that gives Kingdom of Conspiracy it’s effectiveness is also it’s largest drawback. A few tracks in, the mind begins to wander. Is this the same track or a new one? Tempo is nearly the same across each track, and rhythmically what variation is present lacks the texture and depth to form lasting impressions. What riffs catch the interest of the listener are soon gone; never to return, leaving the feeling of an album without any real hooks, or anything to bring one back for repeated listens.
Immolation is a band carrying a torch. They represent a classic approach to death metal that is showing its age. They are founders of an art that, in many ways, has surpassed them. While the contribution to the realm of technical-death metal is undeniable, when compared to the levels of technicality present in many contemporary death metal acts, the writing on Kingdom of Conspiracy feels almost painfully static. For fans of this classic approach to death metal, this album will not disappoint. It delivers everything it promises in a tight polished package. For those pushing toward the ever expanding edge of extreme music, this album feels as rooted in place as so many tall trees in a charred forest.