The word classic gets bandied around with alarming regularity of late but there’s no other way to describe a moment in extreme metal history that continues to surpass 99.9% of all death metal out there. We refer, of course, to Immolation’s awe-inspiring debut album, Dawn Of Possession; an album which may celebrate it’s 25th anniversary today but contradictory remains the freshest waft of putrid death imaginable. Released today this would still blow minds but as it stands, Dawn Of Possession is a time-capsule that perfectly encapsulates the experimental inventiveness of early 90’s death metal….a time when anything seemed possible and the idea of ‘heavy’ was being routinely challenged.
Immolation were certainly no exception, these New York natives were darkness incarnate and blessed (or should that be possessed) with some of the most sinister and hauntingly disharmonic riffs in the fledgling genre. They were beyond heavy, they were the sound of demonic armageddon and their ever-threatening grooves and chromatic displays of precision riffing were the next logical step in death metal’s evolution.
Frankly, it’s not worth cherry-picking a highlight, the whole album demands total immersion and those who’ve braved its tumultuous terror’s over the years will know that this is one hell of a unique ride! Descending into depravity should never be this fun should it?
As previously mentioned, the riffing of Robert Vigna and Tom Wilkinson is simply stunning, the mind-boggling inventiveness of Craig Smilowski’s drumming continues to leave you slack-jawed and the thicker than molasses production combine flawlessly to form an unholy and earth-shattering experience that few have bettered since its inception a quarter of a century ago. Positively dripping with an atmosphere of pure terror and soul-destroying malice, the extremes of death metal may have been tested further and further since its release but Dawn Of Possession has that special something that no band has managed to replicate.
Not just one of death metal’s finest debuts then but one of heavy metal’s finest introductions in general, Immolation may have evolved into an ever more technical wrecking machine over the years but Dawn Of Possession is home to their most vivid collection of twisted tunes. Proudly standing tall alongside Death’s Leprosy, Morbid Angel’s Altars Of Madness, Malevolent Creation’s The Ten Commandments, Obituary’s Cause Of Death and Autopsys Severed Survival as all time classics (there’s that word again) there’s really only one way to describe Dawn of Possession…..fuckin’ mandatory! 10/10