Immolation’s Kingdom of Conspiracy: Damn That’s Good Steak
Let’s just preempt all the bullshit adverbs and comparisons for a minute: the new Immolation album is really fucking good. It feels necessary to begin this review with that statement because, well, there’s no two ways about it. There is a type of death metal that commands a presence through its very sound, devoid of gory imagery and “old-school” production, that is both stripped down and massive at the same time, and that’s what we have here on the Yonkers, NY quartet’s ninth full-length record. And many other album reviews require me to paint large, illustrative pictures of the musicians’ strengths through references to sledgehammers and Lovecraft, the music and themes present on Kingdom of Conspiracy make such peacocking ridiculous.
The album kicks off with the title track, which charges forward with disharmonious riffs and flawless double-bass. Two things immediately stand out to the listener: the production, and the guitars. The former is clear, but not crisp, maintaining a lushness that brutal death metal often loses and steering away from a stark brittleness the genre often courts for technicality’s sake. The latter blows the mind: driving, unrelenting leads juxtaposed next to grinding central riffs that are more percussive than melodic; Bill Taylor and Robert Vigna somehow exude the album’s themes—mind control, enforced lies, the hideousness of modern life, the sense of being an unwitting puppet—through these edged, almost melancholy guitar lines that never overuse the pinch harmonics or repeat the same riff to the point of exhaustion.
The rest of the album follows suit. “Bound To Order” moves in great stomping strides, while “Keep The Silence” alternately creeps forward and spins out of control, with driving lyrics that don’t beat around the bush when describing the album’s message: “If we look away from the danger/It will only get stronger” growls vocalist/bassist Ross Dolan. “God Complex” is brash and confident as its namesake, with its steady slamming pace and almost Middle Eastern-sounding guitar parts. “Echoes of Despair” plods with menace, while “Indoctrinate” fires full-speed ahead in a blaze of misanthropy and paranoia summed up with the line, “What a terrible time to be born in this world.” “The Great Sleep” exudes sadness and despair, its sorrowful intro section leading into a slow, swinging rhythm. “A Spectacle of Lies” and closer “All That Awaits Us” are solid continuations of the sound, but they’re separated by “Serving Divinity,” arguably the album’s best song, which is both throbbing war march and smoldering ember all at once.
All of which is to say: the new Immolation? Really fucking good. Sure, that’s a simplistic sentiment, but in certain ways—thematically, not musically—this is a simple album. It has a message, and says so in ten tracks of consistently excellent death metal that are absolutely crushing and entertaining to listen to. It doesn’t transcend genre lines or take big risks, but it doesn’t have to, because it does what it aspires to do so well, like a mind-blowing steak dinner or your favorite Bruce Willis movie. Many bands fall flat while attempting to be something they’re not; on Kingdom of Conspiracy, Immolation soar while being exactly what they are.