Home > Music > Immolation (1996) – Here In After

Immolation (1996) – Here In After

In many ways, Immolation’s second album is particularly unusual. It walks very thin line between being very accessible and easy to pick up, and being very uninviting and difficult to comprehend. This may be its greatest strength. Sure, the riffs are dissonant, rhythmically complex, and arranged in complicated, ‘narrative’ song structures, but they’re also catchy and hooky as hell. The album makes significant use of pinch harmonics in its riffs, contributing to its unique aesthetic. It has a very deep, bassy production, but unlike, for instance, Suffocation’s debut (Effigy of the Forgotten), guitar tone is very strong, making each specific note easy to pick out. Ross Dolan leans towards the deep end of death growls, but his enunciation is excellent to the point where I can easily make out what he’s saying when I pay attention to the lyrics. Admittedly, my love of and acclimation to dissonant music (even before I got into extreme metal) may be skewing my perspective, but this is definitely a lot easier to get into than albums of similar complexity and ambition, like Obscura or Pierced From Within.

Every song here has its own unique identity despite the constant aesthetic. Immolation takes various sorts of riffs – dissonant blasting phrases, more spacious hook riffs, pinch harmonics, and builds a variety of songs from sets of them. Due to the sheer variety of drumming on this album, each riff is inseparable from the drum pattern underlying it. How many death metal albums can say that? Here in After, in short, smacks of massive effort and craft – the band took 5 years to write and record it.

Take, for instance, the second track, “Burn with Jesus”. A popular sentiment, I suppose, but the first 30 seconds or so (up until vocals come in) are best described as “infernal”, and the dissonance that the two riffs introduced here showcase is very open, unresolved. The riffs in the refrain (0:48-1:12) are also dissonant, but the melodies they trace out are provide some resolution. Again, one should note how the drumming enhances them – within this minute you can hear a rise and fall of intensity, moving from drum hits as accents, to various permutations of blastbeats, and back to drumming as accentuation. There’s a lot of circular writing going on here, but Immolation doesn’t spend the entire song trapped in one circle – they move between them. The second set of riffs, coming after the introductory material, are slower and again showcase the band circling through dynamics and dissonance induced tension, before transitioning back to the introductory material, and finishing with a coda, encasing everything in a larger circle. It’s basically the same form of songwriting that you see in classical music, with introductory themes, development in the middle, recapitulation/expansion of the theme at the end, and new material as a coda. Sections that would seem unrelated at first glance are hereby linked together.

Other songs showcase this same circular/narrative approach. The title track and “I Feel Nothing” contain the greatest degree of melody and consonance on the album. “Nailed to Gold” and “Away from God” give us a great deal of blasting, and “Christ’s Cage” is a lengthy, mostly down-tempo conclusion to the album. Outside of lyrical content, inter-song connections are fairly limited – I think there’s a general slowing down of tempo throughout the album, and the most accessible, ‘normal’ sounding songs are in the middle, but since this isn’t a strict concept album, such is acceptable. Anyways, due to its high degree of musical complexity, this album is definitely worthy of further study. Of course, if you just want to rock out to some death metal, there’s plenty of that to be found here. If you didn’t, you’d probably be at the local concert hall now instead of reading this blogpost.

Of Immolation’s albums, I have only listened to this one and Close to A World Below. The latter has better production, and slightly less dissonance in favor of melodic songwriting, although the songwriting is similar. It’s also the band’s best known and loved album. Coincidence?

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