Immolation – Acts Of God (Nuclear Blast)

In their fourth decade as a band, Immolation have nothing left to prove.

Arguably, they haven’t since 2000’s masterpiece, Close To A World Below gave the death metal scene a much needed shot in the arm as the new millennium dawned.

But the Yonkers crew haven’t let up since then.

2010’s Majesty and Decay and 2017’s fearsome Atonement have been particular highlights of their 21st century output.

Yet the gargantuan, 15-track Acts Of God tops those records.

Steve Shalaty’s intricate drum patterns, Ross Dolan’s trademark roar, those shuddering, hulking grooves… they’re all there.

Immolation’s heart of darkness pumps unholy riffs into the likes of Derelict of Spirit and Blooded.

And the quartet’s ability to bend death metal’s infernal energy to their will is, as usual, breathtaking.

However, the sheer number of standout moments – and its incredible creative depth – is what puts Acts Of God on the same throne as Close To A World Below.

Years in the making, Immolation’s eleventh album is a complex yet coherent beast.

It feels like the tiniest detail has been pored over by the veteran act, yet the record surges with instinctive, primal power.

And the individual performances – especially from Shalaty and guitarist Robert Vigna – are astounding.

Take The Age Of No Light for example. Freezing, shadowy fretwork gives way to one of the slickest DM riffs you’ll hear over year, then the band shift through tense, dramatic passages before the track reaches its hypnotic, soul-crushing conclusion.

That it’s over in less than four minutes attests to the band’s supreme songcraft.

Overtures Of The Wicked, meanwhile, blasts into existence in a heartbeat, searing all before it with promethean fire, before lightning tempo changes herald eruptions of snapping, savage riffery.

And on the nerve-shredding pulse of Immoral Stain, Immolation’s stygian tones are weaved into a shattering percussive onslaught, from which there’s no respite.

It’s almost overwhelming.

And on every voyage into the depths of Acts Of God, more facets to the maelstrom reveal themselves.

Immolation may be famously anti-religious.

But this is divine.

Enjoyed this review? Check out our Best Death Metal Albums of 2021.