It's a little unfortunate that this record doesn't receive nearly as much attention as some of Immolation
's other works - it's not the insanely twisted and deranged journey that was Here in After
, nor does it have the incinerating atmosphere and feel of Close to a World Below
, but it's actually an incredible record that deserves much more credit than it gets.
Right off the bat, yes, the production isn't very good. It's not for lack of power, but the biggest problem is that the drums, especially the bass drums, are pushed way too forward in the mix. (it doesn't help that the kick drum sound is weird as fuck - it's not clicky, just awkward sounding) This, combined with the general lack of treble in the sound sort of makes the riffs a little hard to make out at times. It's a shame, because the riffs on this record are fantastic. But i'm getting a little ahead of myself here.
Failures for Gods pretty much continues where its immediate predecessor left off, but there's some noticeably important differences. The most important one is that the songs are generally a lot more ambitious in terms of scope than HiA's was; the tracks are longer for the most part, but in terms of structure and arrangement this expands on the epic, almost cinematic feeling that the band had done previously with tracks like "After My Prayers" and "Christ's Cage". The second one would be the drumming; Alex Hernandez has a more blast-heavy style than Craig Smolenski did on earlier Immolation
records, but that's not necessarily to equate that with 'uncreative' either. On the contrary, Hernandez's drumming is absolutely fantastic, showcasing some incredibly varied and inventive rhythms during even the most seemingly chaotic sections of the record, juggling the band's technical side incredibly well. The percussion is tasteful and despite the fact they're placed overly forward in the mix, they're remarkably well coordinated with the guitars, being able to match and follow the riffs without overplaying. You couldn't ask for a better drummer here.
The songs on this record are absolutely fantastic, and arguably some of the very best Immolation
have ever come up with. The riffwork is inexorably twisted, utilizing some of the most bizarre harmonics in all of metal. The riffwork is fantastic, with a deeply technical but never overly ornamental feeling to them; at no point does it feel like the riffs are there to show off the player's chops. Backing up the riffing is the aforementioned drumming and Ross Dolan's powerful vocal delivery; for the most part his performance sounds fairly similar to what he did on Here in After
. (deeply gutteral yet actually comprehensible throughout) That
's not a bad thing.
, the tracks on here are generally longer than previous records, but the band develops them incredibly well throughout. If Here in After
was like taking a deeply deranged journey, Failures is akin to some dark, desolate world full of conflict. The songs are pretty heavily technical and go through numerous twists and turns throughout their running time, largely eschewing verse-chorus structures (though "No Jesus, No Beast
" actually has them, though in a somewhat limited fashion) but the band never actually forgets to grab the listeners attention and keep it throughout. Everything feels absolutely necessary to how these songs are written and played out; the band (to me) clearly put a lot of thought into structuring and arranging the songs. The band are fully capable of sudden rhythm and tempo changes (sudden or subtle) without sounding arbitrarily shoehorned into the songs. "Once Ordained
" gets things off to a tense start, with impressive riffage and subtle yet important dynamics at work. "No Jesus, No Beast
" is probably the most overtly memorable track here, with a somewhat more conventional sense of structure at work here, alongside the almost chanted section. The title track and "The Devil
I Know" are two of the most epic tracks on the record, with powerful, twisting riffs and a gradual sense of development before an explosive climax where everything is reveal, as it were - they're both staggeringly underrated songs. (particularly the latter, with its gradually push towards that twistedly melodic outro remains one of Immo's most underrated closers - nearly as strong as the title track to Close to a World Below
or "Christ's Cage") That
's not to say the rest lacks by any means, though again the production hurts some. The performances are as strong as ever; Immolation
are some of the best players in the business, but the musicianship is always tight and focused in their goals.
It's a shame that this record is hurt by the production, because the songs on here are genuinely great. This is definitely one of Immolation
's best records, and while it admittedly lacks accessibility compared to some of their earlier or later records, it's definitely worth spending the time to absorb. They've been a consistent band throughout their career, and shoddy sound aside, this is worthy of their canon, without a doubt.