Monday, July 16, 2012

Immolation - Shadows in the Light

This album was the second misfire by the band in a row. Instead of excruciatingly boring songs, however, this album boasts Immolation's worst production job to date. If one thing can be said about Paul Orfino, it's that you don't know what the fuck you're gonna walk out of the studio sounding like. That's gotta be the most inconsistent sounding motherfucker ever!

Whereas 'Harnessing Ruin' had a very dry and almost "sandy" quality to it, 'Shadows...' is extremely muddy sounding. Now I happen to be a fan of some of the most cavernous sounding recordings ever, from Magus 'Ruminations of Debauchery' down to Crematory's 'The Exordium' and 'Wrath of the Unknown' demos. But see, that's the difference. Demos and swamped out sound quality went hand in hand back in those days. When you're on your seventh studio outing, I'm expecting a little more, especially when you've released sonic masterworks such as 'Dawn of Possession' and 'Here in After'. To some degree, there is no excuse for the sound on this album. This is what it sounds like when your album is produced by a hack.

The evil sound has definitely made it's way back into the songwriting though it is still miles away from the bands earlier works and despite the return of the bands more "haunting" vibe, there are still plenty of boring, "filler" type riffs that were obviously written not long after, if not during the 'Harnessing Ruin' era.

Ross' vocals sound particularly venomous on this album, which is really saying something as most death metal vocalists tend to lose their edge as the years go by. I mean, hell, what do you expect? I can only imagine the damage that abrasive style of "singing" does to ones throat, so to consider that Ross sounds this good so late in his career is astonishing to say the least.

Aside from the muddy sound of the album, I think the worst aspect is the sound of the drums themselves. I once read somewhere that 'the drums sound like someone hitting wet cardboard' and I could never in a million years top that description. Not only do the drums sound particularly horrid but the volume in which they were recorded was seemingly jacked up to the max as they pretty much overpower everything else on the album. If the drum situation was altered a bit, this album wouldn't sound half as bad as it does because as I mentioned earlier, the songwriting is much better than then the album before it.

Lastly, once again Immo have opted to employ some generic, computer generated image to use as the album's cover. The fact that this LP and the one before it have such lame-o excuses for "cover art" says a whole lot about the material within. At the end of the day, although this album is certainly more enjoyable than 2005's 'Harnessing Ruin', Immolation still have a few more steps ahead of them before their triumphant return to the realms of greatness.

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