Immolation at Metalmania in 2008
|Also known as||Rigor Mortis (1986–1988)|
|Origin||Yonkers, New York, United States|
|Labels||Roadrunner, Metal Blade, Listenable, Nuclear Blast|
|Associated acts||Incantation, Goreaphobia, Rellik, Fallen Christ|
Immolation was born from the ashes of Rigor Mortis (NY), a band formed in May 1986 by Andrew Sakowicz (bass guitar, vocals) Dave Wilkinson (drums), and Robert Vigna (guitar). After recording the 'Decomposed" and Warriors of Doom demos, Sakowicz left the band in early 1988 and was replaced by Ross Dolan, and the band's name was changed to Immolation. The new lineup put out two studio demos, in 1988 and 1989, and gained a worldwide following in the underground death metal scene. Immolation signed a record deal with Roadrunner Records and released their debut album Dawn of Possession in 1991. After leaving Roadrunner, the band released "Stepping on Angels," a compilation of demo releases and live tracks. In 1995 the band was signed by Metal Blade Records and released three albums: Here in After, Failures for Gods, and Close to a World Below. After their second album, drummer Craig Smilowski left the band and was replaced by Alex Hernandez. Their next three albums, Unholy Cult, Harnessing Ruin, and Shadows in the Light were released by French label Listenable Records and Century Media in the US.
In May 2001, Immolation were the headliners for a tour in Europe with supporting bands: Deranged, Deströyer 666, Decapitated and Soul Demise. Unholy Cult saw the departure of guitarist Thomas Wilkinson and the addition of ex-Angelcorpse guitarist Bill Taylor. Steve Shalaty replaced Hernandez on Harnessing Ruin. In February 2008, Immolation toured the US alongside bands such as Rotting Christ, Belphegor and Averse Sefira. In January and February 2010, Immolation toured with headliner Nile along with Krisiun, Rose Funeral, and Dreaming Dead.
In March 2010, Immolation released Majesty and Decay through Nuclear Blast. In 2011, they released the 5-track Providence EP through Scion A/V as a free download. In May 2013, Immolation released Kingdom of Conspiracy, again via Nuclear Blast, and toured with Cannibal Corpse and Napalm Death on a tour sponsored by Decibel Magazine. At the end of 2016, Bill Taylor left the band for personal reasons, and was replaced by Alex Bouks. In 2017 Immolation released their tenth full-length album Atonement.
Musical style and lyrical themes
Immolation relies on riffs written in dissonant harmonic patterns, often dueling between the two guitars, to progress songs, typically over complex rhythm and drum patterns. Their riffs are often a mixture of fast tremolo picking and a lot of power chords and pinched harmonics to lay down a wall of sound that many bands have tried to use in their own music. Their guitar parts are often highly complex and technically proficient; drum parts are often written to follow the guitar riffs in a way that is unusual for most death metal. They and fellow Pennsylvania death metal band, Incantation, helped bring the New York death metal scene to the attention of the underground. Their debut album is frequently cited as being an important and highly influential album, having laid down the blueprint that bands such as Cryptopsy and Suffocation would follow with their respective debuts.
Guitarist Robert Vigna and vocalist/bassist Ross Dolan have been the only constant members throughout the band's history. Vigna is considered to be one of the most talented death metal guitarists and is well known for his complex riffing and wailing solos.
The band's lyrics from Dawn of Possession to Unholy Cult are largely anti-religion, especially anti-Christianity. Beginning with Harnessing Ruin, there are more lyrics touching on other subjects such as politics. As Ross Dolan explained, the band's shift in lyrical theme was motivated by current events:
We did kind of leave the religious themes alone, because we were very passionate about that for the first number of records. And once Unholy Cult came out, that was where we branched off. That's where the shift happened, 'cause that was right after 9/11, as you know! I saw it, I went down there, I had family that got killed in the towers, and it was a life-changing event in a lot of ways. And I knew at that point that things would never be the same, in our country or in the world. And that's where the shift happened, and we started to focus more on the darker side of humanity. Which we did already with the religious themes, of course, because that was a very dark part of our history. I mean not to knock anybody who's very passionate about their religion, but in my personal point of view, I've always thought of it as a very controlling and negative force. It serves as a division in our world, it divides people, just like so many other things! So that's where we are, and that's where that shift started, away from religion and into something more socially relevant and looking more deeply at ourselves.
- Dawn of Possession (1991)
- Here in After (1996)
- Failures for Gods (1999)
- Close to a World Below (2000)
- Unholy Cult (2002)
- Harnessing Ruin (2005)
- Shadows in the Light (2007)
- Majesty and Decay (2010)
- Kingdom of Conspiracy (2013)
- Atonement (2017)
- Bringing Down the World (DVD, 2004)
- Robert Vigna – guitar (1986–present)
- Ross Dolan – bass, vocals (1988–present)
- Steve Shalaty – drums (2003–present)
- Alex Bouks – guitar (2016–present)
- Andrew Sakowicz – bass, vocals (1986–1988)
- Dave Wilkinson – drums (1986–1988; died 2018)
- Thomas Wilkinson – guitar (1988–2001)
- Neal Boback – drums (1988–1989)
- Craig Smilowski – drums (1989–1996)
- Alex Hernandez – drums (1996–2003)
- Bill Taylor – guitar (2001–2016)
- John McEntee – guitar (2001)
- Young, Garry-Sharpe. "Immolation Biography". MusicMight. Archived from the original on August 31, 2011. Retrieved November 5, 2009.
- Bowar, Chad (January 3, 2008). "Rotting Christ, Immolation, Belphegor and Averse Sefira Tour Dates". About.com. Archived from the original on January 7, 2008. Retrieved November 5, 2009.
- "Nile announces first metal tour of 2010 with Immolation, Krisiun, Dreaming Dead, and Rose Funeral". Metal Injection. July 15, 2009. Retrieved November 5, 2009.
- "Immolation - Providence EP | Scion Audio Visual". Scion A/V. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
- Purcell, Natalie J. (May 5, 2003). Death Metal music: the passion and politics of a subculture. McFarland. pp. 19–21. ISBN 978-0-7864-1585-4. Retrieved November 8, 2010.
- Schalek, Dave. "Essential Death Metal Albums". About.com. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
- Dick, Chris (August 2007). "#15 Robert Vigna (Immolation)". Decibel Magazine. Archived from the original on February 11, 2010. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
- Finer, Sam (14 May 2013). "Immolation (Ross Dolan) Interview". Metal Blast. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
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