IMMOLATION – Hope & Horror

Inexplicably unreleased stateside for well over a year, IMMOLATION‘s Hope & Horror EP finally sees a long overdue domestic release. Although recorded during the sessions for last year’s excellent Shadows in the Light LP, the EP is fortunately comprised of three separate tracks, none of which are found on said album. At a scant fifteen minutes, the band keeps things short and to the point. “Den of Thieves” begins the onslaught with flurries of blasts before settling into a dense, swamp like mid-tempo groove before bringing back the fury. The EP’s centerpiece, “The Condemned,” arrives next, with the band plugging away with a driving, straight forward approach, before evolving through some twists, turns, descending and ascending riff arrangements; all of which are ably guided along by drummer Steve Shalaty‘s busy, intricate drum patterns. Closing out the triumvirate is the epic instrumental, “The Struggle of Hope and Horror,” which builds atmosphere though out the song, as the listener is taken though a labyrinth of shifting tempos and dynamic variations built on drifting movement and flow as opposed to standard “verse, chorus, verse” fare. The song delivers a strong finish to the EP. Perhaps in an effort to appease fans who spent way too much on pricey imports and ebay shenanigans, the U.S. release of Hope & Horror features a full pro-shot DVD filmed in their home state of NY. Since the DVD is essentially a bonus, the content is bare bones thin, consisting solely of the band’s performance, without even a menu to access individual tracks. The band wastes no time, diving head first into “Swarm of Terror” and from there on out, the band delivers the goods to the metal minions present. Reflecting the band’s no-bull approach, IMMOLATION cans the chit-chat onstage banter in favor of unleashing an effective, scathing performance. It’s all here: Ross Dolan‘s 30 foot long hair flying about; Steve Shalaty‘s busy, drum-clinic styled drum patterns; Bill Taylor‘s understated yet effective presence; and of course the inimitable Bob Vigna displaying his usual fretboard wizardry and Christian decapitation techniques. The performance focuses primarily on Harnessing Ruin material with only “Into Everlasting Fire” and “No Jesus, No Beast” to represent the band’s classic catalog. But it’s a minor complaint, as the show serves as a brief snapshot in to the band’s history. While Hope & Horror isn’t necessarily a life and death purchase (the presentation and content on both discs is bare bones and brisk), it nonetheless serves as a nice companion piece to Shadows in the Light or perfect as a quick fix of anti-Christian blasphemy. (Listenable Records)

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