Welcome to The Saw’s Butcher Shop. It’s me, The Saw! And today I want to talk about Immolation, and the new single, “Apostle,” from their 11th studio album, Acts of God (Nuclear Blast), due to drop in February, 2022. The new single, and accompanying video, is a groovy Old School Death Metal banger. And you already know how The Saw feels about Old School Death Metal!
So, we’ve recently discussed that, back in the day, New York had a raging underground Extreme Metal scene led by Suffocation, Mortician, Incantation, and Immolation. Immolation came to life in 1988 when Rigor Mortis (N.Y.) disbanded. They have a distinctive sound and style, when compared to the other bands of the NY scene, but also when compared to other Death Metal bands in General. The guitarists (Robert Vigna, founding lead guitar; Alex Bouks, rhythm guitar) utilize fast tremolo picking that off-set power cords and pinched harmonics. Usually, these styles are layered in opposing harmonics between the two guitarists that builds the distinct structure of an Immolation song. Steve Shalaty (drums) uses Blast beats, double bass, and oddly timed snare, tom, and symbol hits that align with the riff or groove of a certain song. Ross Dolan (bass, vocals) fills out the thickness of the sound by playing precisely the main stringed riff. The result is that every song by Immolation is unique, with strange time stamps, haunting harmonies, and crushing riffs of pure power. To finish it off, Dolan has some amazing gutterals – deep, gurgling rumbles – that are crystal clear; communicating the dark lyrics (perfectly understandable), and applying more weight to each song.
In the early days of Immolation, the lyrics consisted of, basically, anti-religious material. But more recently, after loosing family members in the terror attacks of 9/11, Dolan expanded his view, and his lyrical prowess, to cover the dark imagination of the human psyche. He doesn’t simply replay events, but delves into the “why” of human action and interaction.
The Single, Apostle
And, so it is with the newest material by Immolation. The very characteristics that have identified the band for 33+ years, of course, are here. Some bands evolve and become something new, while others intentionally hold to what they’ve always been, and continue to perfect that sound and experience. Like the other NY bands, Immolation is precisely consistent in their expression. The new single is an excellent example of that fact – everything that Immolation is and has ever been is present in “Apostle.” I think the production is better, Dolan’s deep register rumbles the sound waves a little better, Shalaty’s time signature is even stranger than usual; but precision, darkness, harmony, and crushing riffs continue after three decades, according to “Apostle.”
Lyrically, (I think) “Apostle” is metaphorical. Dolan is offering commentary on a movie being played out before our eyes.
“From the bloodied altars of the wicked king come poison doctrines of godless rage.”
“From fetid gutters of sickened minds come corrosive diatribes aimed to destroy.”
“Lead them to madness… worship and trust… follow through you must.”
“In flashing scenes of horror come pestilential storms…explosive bursts of death bring coffins to the earth. In chaotic waves of hate the skies rain down our venom.”
“Crippling with fear, bait them with terror… programmed to destroy, our perfect soldier. Lead them to sorrow…this chorus of pain.”
“Resounding, dark, triumphant… forever the monster, our secrets held deep. After the purge their silence will keep.”
While I attempt to order my 2021 Albums of the Year, the release of Immolation’s upcoming new album – Acts of God (Nuclear Blast) – on February, 18, 2022 promises to be on my list next year! Immolation have also announced a North American Tour. I will participate in the beatings on February 20, in Greensboro, NC, at the Blind Tiger. That night they’ll have Imperial Triumphant and Mortiferum with them. I’m excited! Will I see you there?