Any writer worth his or her tattoo ink should listen to Immolation‘s catalogue before reviewing Atonement, or any of their future albums, for that matter. The net result for all will be positive, even if it simply deters pen from hitting the paper to note yet again that Immolation sounds like, well, Immolation.

It is true that New York’s death metal denizens in Immolation have honed a classic, signature sound that consistently spotlights unforgiving blast beats and frontman Ross Dolan’s apocalyptic growl, but there is a lot more on Atonement than these known commodities. Like the devil, it is in the details. Guitarist Robert Vigna, who co-founded the band with Dolan and is a primary songwriter, uses his instrument to create ominous atmospheres for each song through technical squeals and nuanced repetition. And unlike the band’s more frenetic, bludgeoning early work, the quartet creates formidable song structures that dangle piercing hooks from their pillars and beams. This is undeniable in the riff-heavy strut of “Fostering the Divide” and the majestic bridge and outro of “Rise the Heretics.”

While 2013’s Kingdom of Conspiracy was a strong, tightly wound release, Atonement manages to capitalize on the band’s trademark intensity while offering breathing room to cast haunting shadows throughout. Immolation have made it a habit of growing stronger with each album, and this is their best yet.

Atonement is out February 24 on Nuclear Blast. Pre-order it here!

SkullsNBones Rating (Out Of 5):snb-review-starsnb-review-starsnb-review-starsnb-review-star