If the ultimate goal of any review is to convince you, the reader, to acquire a record or not, then here’s all the review you need:
“Providence is an EP that consists of five new songs from Immolation. And it’s free.”
There you have it. Have at it.
But in the interest of hearing myself type / keeping myself employed, I’ll dissect it a bit more. So here we go…
Last year’s Majesty And Decay may not have done much to progress Immolation’s overall stylistic approach, but it saw them turning in their strongest record in years, especially as it righted the production wrongs of Shadows In The Light. Majesty sharpened the band’s attack sonically and further reminded of why they were (and are) rightfully placed among death metal’s elite. For over two decades, these New Yorkers have been cranking out some of the darkest, most evil death metal around, with truly unholy riffs amidst some of the genre’s best songs. With the band back on track post-Majesty, Providence fits snugly into the modern Immolation fold – it’s dark and menacing without being technical, balancing a crispness and sharpness with the expected brutality and darkness.
That crispness and sharpness is key: Providence’s production is perfect, perhaps a bit more pristine even than necessary, but it never becomes detrimental. Like Majesty, the EP sounds tight and punchy – it’s certainly far above the roughshod Shadows, that album’s potential power robbed by a mix that left the whole affair sounding weak and unfinished. The guitars squall and crush; they’re thick and stout without losing the edges that keep them distinct. Providence’s best riffs are both bludgeons and razors, blunt in attack but sharp in execution, and every bit the better for it.
These five songs are all of proper Immolation quality, and the intense opener “What They Bring” and it’s creepy follow-up “Illumination” are absolutely killer. The first track establishes itself straightaway with all the band’s trademarks: those riffs, the ominous lumbering drive, both in blistering blasts and stabbing mid-tempo squalls. “Illumination” rides a truly menacing three-note 5/4 keyboard motif into pounding nearly epic darkness.
All told, this is a short and sharp little record – a perfect use of the EP format. Providence is further proof that, though they may have streamlined some of the strangeness of earlier efforts, Immolation remains at the top of their game.
And did I mention that it’s free? (The band is offering physical copies on the road – the download is available from Scion A/V for no cost.)
Go get it.