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"Close to a World Below" (Metal Blade)
"Failures For Gods" (Metal Blade)

"Close to a World Below" (Metal Blade)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

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My first introduction to Immolation was their second full-length album, "Failures For Gods." I didn't particularly like it then and I don't care for it now. So you'll forgive me, despite repeated attempts, if I didn't get into Immolation's newest effort "Close To A World Below." In fact, I've resigned myself to yet another round of hate mail from Immolation fans the world over.

Is there anything worth hearing on "Close To A World Below"? There are a few good things to say which certainly caught me off guard. At least now I know that one of Immolation's best traits is their strict ability to remain impervious to any kind of trends and ply their trade with conviction no matter what is happening in the metal world. The riffs are slightly better this time around and the arrangements are very much improved. 

Meanwhile, Immolation's devotion to mocking all things religious hasn't wavered one bit. Hell, it's one of the album's highlights when Dolan sarcastically says "didn't you say Jesus was coming?" in a tone fitting of Satan's handy helpers - unfortunately that was the first three seconds of the CD. However, it was the only time I actually cracked a smile. The last two tracks, "Put My Hand In The Fire" and the title track were the best tracks in my opinion.

What are the bad things about "Close To A World Below"? For starters, the one-dimensional vocals haven't improved one iota - I'm sure Immolation fans will love it, but for me I wonder "what's the point"? The dual guitar attack stays pretty much the same - fierce, yet somewhat stifled. And, despite what Immolation fans call 'godly' guitar playing ability, 'godly' it ain't. Besides, how fucking  stupid is it to describe a band's playing ability as 'godly' when the band's raison d'etre is to ridicule all things 'godly'?

So, having said all that it's fair to say that I'm probably not the best critic to review "Close To A World Below." But give me some credit as I gave it the benefit of a doubt - I thought an additional year and a half since "Failures For Gods" might warm me up to the brutal death metal scene, but alas it hasn't. 
If you're a fan of Immolation or a fan of brutal death metal in general, you'll love "Close To A World Below." If you don't fit into any of those two categories go spend your money on CDs by other Metal Blade artists such as Jacobs Dream, The Quiet Room, or Lamb Of God.

"Close To A World Below" was produced by Paul Orofino and Immolation. For what it's worth, if Immolation fans are still reading this review, I'll give credit where credit is due: the production is quite good.

Immolation is Ross Dolan on bass and vocals, Robert Vigna and Thomas Wilkinson on guitar, and Alex Hernandez on drums.

For more information visit

"Failures For Gods" (Metal Blade)immolation.jpg (12288 bytes)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

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Immolation, hailing from New York City, have unleashed upon the world their third release. "Failures For Gods" expands upon their sound in hopes of reaching the high expectations they've set for themselves.

Each song has death metal at its core yet also takes the time to insert a near groove-oriented passage or some gloomy slower parts that provide each song with a sense of dynamics. However, the core death metal parts seemed strained and forced. Another problem with the overall pattern of the songs is that each tune can be split into three parts (death metal riff/groove oriented riff/death metal riff). The result is a rather predictable and uninspired set of songs.

Immolation do offer at least some respite during each song with some major time signature changes. The vocals are below average for the death metal genre.

However, the final verdict is that the disc tries to do too much. In the end, "Failures For Gods" fluctuates between being average and having some potential. Overall, the disc gets better with each new track if the disc is listened to in the track sequence provided on the CD.

The opening two tracks, "Once Ordained" and "No Jesus, No Beast," are typical death metal. The third track, "Failures For Gods," has an epic nature that is its redeeming factor. The fourth track, "Unsaved" manages to add a doomy element the music, but the vocals are flat and this detracts from what could otherwise be a powerful song. "God Made Filth," the fifth track, points its hatred at religious matters in general, but fails to raise the music to a level that provide the band's viewpoint with any validity.

The sixth and seventh tracks, "Stench Of High Heaven" and "Your Angel Died" respectively, each have interesting musical sections within the songs. These two tunes are also the band's best foray into the broadening technical death metal scene. Although Immolation are nowhere near as technically brilliant as Nile or Cryptopsy, these two tracks at least show a glimmer of hope that there might be an improving musical trend from the band.

The eight and final track shows the band at its peak. "The Devil I Know" is a decent tune that adds a more gothic flavor to the band's own metallic style. Of any song on the disc, "The Devil I Know" shows that Immolation can break the mold of typical death metal if they try hard enough.

Paul Orofino and Immolation shared production duties. Technically, the production isn't bad, nor is it stellar; the overall sound of the disc rolls in at an even keel, yet lacks a certain punch that you might expect from a death metal band. 

Immolation consists of Ross Dolan on bass and lead vocals, Thomas Wilkinson on guitar, Robert Vigna on guitar, and Alex Hernandez on drums.

Visit Immolation's growing website at to learn more about the band.

Rating Guide:

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) A classic. This record will kick your ass.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) So-so. You've heard better.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

restinks.jpg (954 bytes) Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2001 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 29 Dec 2019 15:34:20 -0500 .