Immolation - Harnessing Ruin

Year of Release: 2005
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: OLMP244-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 43:46:00

Immolation's Harnessing Ruin doesn't set me alight, I'm afraid. And not just because this isn't my genre of choice and I have some bias towards death metal. For all the brutal power on display, it just doesn't ... excite me.

Immolation are a death metal band with a history that stretches back 17 years, and Harnessing Ruin is their seventh album. What you get is dark and heavy metal, played in varying speeds that range from sluggish to racing - sometimes at the same time, where the bass (Ross Dolan, also vocals) and drums (Steve Shalaty) provide the heavy bottom end, while guitarists Bill Taylor and Robert Vigna provide the speed. Of course, Shalaty does attack his drums with assaultive ferocity in those speedier parts. And I'll give Dolan credit for the fact that his cookie monster vocals -- actually, I think he's been possessed by the Goa'uld* -- do allow for the words to be heard.

The arrangements are dense, as might be expected from this style of music... it's oppressive, confining. Words like pummeling and hammering instantly come to mind, such as during the opener "Swarm Of Terror." I think the guitar playing is the highlight element, speedy, searing, fiery solos ... some flashes of dynamics. The track that stands out for me in this regard is "Dead To Me" which contains some nice dynamics at its outset, and in the outro. These moments hint more at prog metal than death metal.

There is some interesting interplay in "Our Savior Sleeps" - give and take between guitars and drums. And even some elements that make me think of a dark and rumbling Rush (earlier in their career). Tribal/battle drums open "Challenge The Storm" which hints at something interesting to following, but what follows seems ... pedestrian.

"Son Of Iniquity" throttles back a bit, closer to Metallica realms actually, and though we a high/low variance as heard in "Challenge The Storm," here there's just a little extra that provides some interest. This piece is about a soldier gone... I don't know, I'd say rogue ... has taken his license to kill to the extreme... like in some ultra-violent, testosterone-fueled video game. And yes, fans of those games would love this stuff. This milieu... they live in a world where evil is manifest... well, more manifest than it is in our reality... perceived reality?

In "My Own Enemy" the weak are being encouraged to succumb to their darker natures... tempted by evil to stray from "good." And in this realm, evil will trump good. I mean, does that chiming, sounding-horn-like guitar that ends the piece signal victory, the successful turning? Could be.

Funnily enough, I hear in them a more heavy-handed Iron Maiden. If Maiden has loaping rhythms, Immolation's rhythms are... elephants that gallop like gazelles (though not quite as pretty as a galloping gazelle).

Most tracks are in the 3 - 5 minute range, so this all goes by quick... the disk lasts just under 45 minutes.

Powerful and pummeling, and if all you're looking for is another ear-drum punishing assault, this will fit the bill. Immolation fit a lot in their arrangements, and I can hear some complexity and all, it just doesn't... well, set me aflame. There's nothing for my ears to latch onto that I want to hear again... all sound and fury, signifying nothing. I know, I know, they're legends in this style, progenitors, even... Still, they just don't do it for me.

(The half point extra in my rating, for those brief flashes of interesting guitar).

*perhaps I've been watching too much Stargate SG-1

Swarm Of Terror (3:15) / Our Savior Sleeps (3:36) / Challenge The Storm (3:57) / Harnessing Ruin (4:31) / Dead To Me (5:19) / Son Of Iniquity (6:07) / My Own Enemy (6:36) / Crown The Liar (4:54) / At Mourning's Twilight (5:16)

Ross Dolan - bass, vocals
Bill Taylor - guitar
Robert Vigna - guitar
Steve Shalaty - drums

Dawn Of Possession (1991)
Stepping On Angels...Before Dawn (1994)
Here In After (1996)
Failures For Gods (1999)
Close To A World Below (2000)
Unholy Cult (2002)
Harnessing Ruin (2005)

Genre: Other

Origin US

Added: January 20th 2006
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1098
Language: english


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