Making good for 29 years
dB rating: 9/10

Release Date: February 24, 2017
Label: Nuclear Blast

Atonement’s topography is a snarl of wayward bylanes, contrary signage and curious textures. Nevertheless (and quite thankfully), Immolation’s core remains imperturbable, even as their NYDM dialect becomes far more oblique and strangely accented.

Though it’s tempting to associate Atonement’s baroque flourishes with the eccentricities of Gorguts or, say, Thantifaxath (as if Immolation were galvanized by these artists), we’d argue that it’s a mistaken assumption. One has to only sift through Immolation’s extensive back-catalog with a discerning ear to discover comparable melodic peculiarities to those found here. The distinction primarily lies in the clarity of Atonement’s timbres, which, given the exactness of the album’s production are allowed to remain intact, rather than being homogenized into the frenzied batter of the compositions themselves. (Immolation’s 2011 EP Providence telegraphed Atonement quite clearly, wedding itself less to speed as a foregone conclusion and thereby opening itself to guitarist Bob Vigna’s more idiosyncratic inclinations.)

“The Distorting Light” launches Atonement via an anti-riff recalling the mournful grind of an unmanned sloop, slowly driven against a stone jetty. The album’s tone is immediately established as one of wretched resignation, which the band quickly lunges to exploit. Nevertheless, through a honeycomb of blasts and mid-paced melees, “The Distorting Light” remains sheer and consistent. This masterful articulation threads through Atonement as a piece. Whether it’s the quality of homicidal majesty inveterate in the title track, the achromatic, near-flamenco interregnum of “Rise of the Heretics” or the unnerving major chord progression woven into “The Power of Gods,” Atonement’s grim, fascinating tension lies in its quality of hinged, as opposed to “unhinged,” power. This is an imposing work from an unflagging scene sovereign.

— Forrest Pitts

This review taken from the March 2017 issue. Atonement is available on vinyl from Nuclear Blast.

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