Let me give some backstory. Back in 2013, I saw lots of excellent reviews for Kingdom of Conspiracy, so I decided I would also review it. Unfortunately, I saw the official lyric video before hearing the whole album:
It isn’t terrible, but seeing those lyrics written out was bad. They don’t sound bad in the context of the song, but reading them is rough. They are simultaneously cliché and pretentious. This gave me my first turnoff. I was familiar with their debut, Dawn of Possession, but it didn’t blow me away or anything. So I went into the album with a bad attitude and never got around to reviewing it.
I recently wrote an article taking a closer look at Close to a World Below. I was shocked that Immolation’s back catalog actually had a lot of really great stuff in it. This has prompted me to return to this album to see if I missed anything here as well.
Unfortunately, my opinion hasn’t changed much. This album still feels overly mechanical and sterile. They rely far more on repetitive, pulsing rhythms to drive the music than interesting melodic or harmonic motion. As a matter of volume, it tends to be all loud all the time without any sense of building or tension/release which was so great in their earlier stuff.
The songs repeat, a lot. The riffs aren’t super interesting, but they aren’t super generic either. This lack of interesting riff makes the excessive repetition of the ideas (with almost no change in layering, texture, etc) too much.
Also, the solos are quite forgettable. Gone is the wild abandon and disturbing ideas that somehow worked as climactic centerpieces on earlier albums. These were the highlight of the old albums for me. On Kingdom of Conspiracy, the solos basically outline a riff up an octave with some minor ornamentation.
To be fair, this is not a terrible album. At least not bad enough to justify not reviewing it (I try to only do this if I’m going to give it less than 5/10). It doesn’t live up to Immolation’s past excellence, but it certainly beats out several things I’ve listened to this year.