Immolation will bring their legendary death metal to The Complex on October 20.
"No Christ, no cross, no pain, no loss, no wanton guilt for us to bear, no body, no blood, no crown, no thorns, no bastard son, no chosen one."
These words come from “No Jesus, No Beast,” my introduction to Immolation from their 1999 album Failures for Gods.
As a teenager with life throwing everything it could at me, the fact that a song and its lyrics could hit so hard still sends shivers up my spine. The Failures for Gods album made me realize that death metal was more than blood and guts—if you look deeper, you’ll find powerful music with lyrics that challenge beliefs.
“That’s what’s so great about music—it can mark that particular time when you first heard a song or an album or a band, and it’s just etched into your memory. It takes you back to that journey,” says Ross Dolan, founding member, bassist and vocalist of Immolation. “Everybody has a moment when you’re just really sour and not in a good frame of mind, and that’s a lot of times where these songs come from—it gets people thinking about different things.” Immolation is undoubtedly one of the most consistently provocative and hard working American death metal acts. Immola,tion is headlining a show in Salt Lake City, Oct. 20 at the Complex. It’s the first time Immolation have been in town since the mid-’90s.
Immolation has been at their craft since 1988, brutalizing death metal fans and pushing not only the American extreme metal scene into new territory, but the world scene as well. They’re a band often emulated and praised, but the relative obscurity of their music has lent them to be described by their fans and critics as underrated. Immolation never really went the traditional route as far as death metal or extreme music goes, and the band never had any ideas of grandeur in their early years. “When we started we didn’t have any ideas that we’re going to explode—we knew what we were doing was going to appeal to a small niche,” Dolan says. “At this point in my life, it’s cool to look back and say we did it on our terms. We loved it every step of the way.”
The ability to please everyone is next to impossible. The new album has taken some hits for being overproduced, but Dolan says if you have the opportunity to make something sound better, go ahead with it. “We realized that back in 1988, everybody has a comment about something. Music is an individual thing people get different things out of it and they look for different things,” he says.
The typical sound of death metal is applied with an obscure sensibility in Immolation’s music—they have always focused creating a feeling when you hear the sound. It may not always result in a catchy song or some memorable riff, chorus or melody, but every Immolation record is guaranteed to smack hard in the face. Much of this can be attributed to co-founding member and guitarist Bob Vigna, who takes on a bulk of the songwriting. “The dynamic of a song is very important—it needs to go somewhere. The cool thing about the way Bob writes Immolation’s music is it’s multidimensional to me,” says Dolan. “What he writes has a lot of soul to it and a lot of feeling. It really suits what we’re going for—it’s very dark, it’s very ominous sounding, it’s very foreboding, there’s something very menacing about his writing.”
Immolation released their eighth album, Majesty and Decay, via Nuclear Blast Records on March 9, 2010. Their lyrics continue to surpass standard death metal offerings, and even go beyond the strong anti-religious sentiment of the band’s earlier work. “In Human Form,” one of the transfixing and pulverizing epics from the new album, attests to this: “A rage inside the soul now burns, reach the point of no return, internal fire that sears the flesh, melt away my human form.”
Immolation’s consistency throughout their albums is easily the band’s legacy. Most fans will argue with fervor that the band has never recorded a bad album—lyrical directions have shifted just as the musical directions, but it’s always Immolation. “We’ve always tried throughout the years to stay true to the band we were when we started. Obviously, people grow up, you mature, you see things differently and you’re constantly evolving as a human being and that’s natural,” Dolan says. “There’s a line of continuity between all the records, and that’s one thing I think people respect about us.”
Immolation are artists hell bent on twisting your mind, compelling you to question your existence and your faith in the world and humanity. Witness the forces of cynical and ominous dissonance for yourself, as Immolation performs in Salt Lake City on October 20 at Vertigo (21+) at the Complex.