Close to a World Below

Metal Blade

During the past decade, few death-metal bands have consistently upped the ante, both for themselves and for their chosen genre, like Immolation have. Case in point: Close to a World Below, the New York quartet’s fourth and latest assault on humanity. Whereas last year’s Failures for Gods mainlined mind-melted complexity into a still-palatable framework, Close to a World Below finds Immolation upping their accessibility more than a few notches, as multi-tiered yet digestible song structures get saturated with riffs — courtesy of the masterful guitar tandem of Robert Vigna and Thomas Wilkinson — and rhythms that are actually more technical, troubling, and treacherous than anything they’ve yet committed to tape, including the smeared, bleary holocaust of the aforementioned predecessor. Further compounding this fact is the band’s increased emphasis on melody, which is sometimes hypnotic n’ stultifying (e.g., the one-two punch of “Unpardonable Sin” and “Lost Passion”), always eerier than anything culled from a Roman Polanski film (the coda to the title track), but never too overt or out-front. Semi-surprise here, however, is vocalist/bassist Ross Dolan’s lyrics, this time around exhibiting a more personal nature and, above all, a certain strain of Catholic guilt (particularly on “Put My Hand in the Fire” and “Father, You’re Not a Father”) that’s rather unique for non-Sabbath metal circles: lots of finger pointing, doubt, and, well, guilt about where a god fits in a heathen’s life. Forever setting the gold standard for death metal, Immolation are — another blood-red ruby in the band’s blindingly brilliant crown.

Metal Blade Records, 2828 Cochran St., Suite 302, Simi Valley, CA 93065-2793;

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