Majesty and Decay

Immolation’s one of those bands where I don’t feel like you need to justify liking them; they’re just that damn likable. I actually got in an argument with an artist I was interviewing when they admitted they didn’t like the band, and my (perfectly reasonable) response was, “what the fuck is wrong with you?” Not the most professional retort, but hey, it’s fuckin’ Immolation! Seriously. They probably could be spared a review or two and critics could repeatedly type “Immolation rules” every time a new album of theirs crops up, but seeing as you Teeth of the Divine readers might nag incessantly for an actual review, I guess I’m forced to pander to your needs. Gah! And after all I’ve done for you!

Now that you’re convinced that I’m totally gaga for Immolation, I suppose you’ll be expecting me to not say anything negative about this album, and you’d be wrong. That huge spatial image that the mix conveys could probably do with a little more string action from the bass, and the snare could use a little snap. Some of the songs could afford to be a verse or so shorter, especially on songs like “The Rapture of Ghosts” or the title track when they tend to repeat themselves or when those murky, smoldering riffs fall a little flat. I’m seriously grasping for something meatier to complain about here than this relatively meager bullshit, because Majesty and Decay is the best album Immolation have done in the ten years following Close to a World Below.

Probably the biggest step up on this album is the drum performance. I’ve felt like some of the drum parts were a little out of place, maybe a little too wild for the already bizarre guitar riffs. Bob Vigna pretty much laid out the drum parts ahead of time on some drum programming software, which I think really reined in the performance from Steve Shalaty. Steve sounds like an absolute monster on the kit, probably thanks in no small part to the massive mix by Zack Ohren, not to mention the explosive performance captured by long-time Immolation producer Paul Orofino.

Those octave-vaulting rhythms that Bob Vigna and Bill Taylor lay down are still mystifying to me after all these years. The complexity and dichotomy of the bleak, black-as-tar riffs with those high-pitched squeals and solos compliments the guitar tone exceptionally well. Ross Dolan sounds just as gruff and gravelly as he ever has, and his bass tone provides a much needed low-end rumble that grooves right alongside the guitars for the most part. Songs like “A Glorious Epoch” and “The Comfort of Cowards” quickly establish that trademark Immolation atmosphere and combine the flashy technicality for which they’re known with the bizarre, swooning harmonies for which they’re also known.

All in all, I’d say Immolation hit this one out of the park. I’ll say it again: Majesty and Decay is the best album Immolation have done in the ten years following Close to a World Below. In time, it might even be better. If Majesty and Decay’s incredible sound and structure is a result of a focused pre-production schedule, then one can only hope for bigger and better things to come from the Immolation camp. No doubt I’ll be rallying Majesty and Decay by year’s end as one of 2010’s best.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kris Yancey
May 5th, 2010


  1. Commented by: Teufel

    This is easily my favorite album of the year thus far, I just wish we didn’t have to wait so long between albums.

  2. Commented by: Cynicgods

    I’m extremely curious about the artist now. Can you tell me who it was in a PM? Thank you for succintly stating what needed to be said. ;)

    Too many excellent releases in 2010 – it’s only been 4 months and some change. WTF? – but this is definitely top five material.

  3. Commented by: vugelnox

    this is the #1 album for me as well, only Ares Kingdom has come close to matching this.

  4. Commented by: Tim

    “The Rapture of Ghosts” opening riff is one of the best riffs in Vigna songbook. Immolation manages to be heavy and evil without being cartoonish or silly and they deserve much credit for that.

  5. Commented by: faust666

    Contrary to the first paragraph, I think that Immolation is NOT an immediately accessible, likable band. They have a mature niche sound that can make one a little weary and, for a lack of a better word, bored.
    I love Immolation and I thought I’d love this record but I dont. Now that the fuzziness and muddiness has gone I find them much less sinister and much less interesting.

  6. Commented by: elrosk

    It’s funny, but this album reminds me riff and songstructure wise of Disincarnate’s Dreams of the Carrion Kind.

  7. Commented by: mccumberv

    In the past Immolation was a huge turn off for me, I love all the clear technical death metal and to me Immolation sounded like a muddled mess. I do find this new album much better and much clearer and as Tim said in an earlier post, the song “The Rapture of Ghosts” is totally badass, so I would say that this album has made me change my tune and revisit this band. THANKS DUDES & DUDETTES!!!!!

  8. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    For some reason Immolation is one of the few bands I can never and could never get into. dont own a single cd by them- though ive heard plenty of their stuff.

  9. Commented by: skodag

    I loved everything up to and including CTAWB, their subsequent releases, however, have been lackluster…including this one.

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