IMMOLATION - Dawn of Possession (R/C - LP 1991)
“…Enthroned upon their praise, dethroned with my disgust, unworthy of your glory you turn your back on me…”
The sky is burning, when the red mixes with the yellow in the horizon, but the closer it is, the blacker and darker it becomes. Divine, white and majestic figures descent from the skies in the great number, beautiful in their long white robes and wings... But from the below an equal number of something more sinister and evil comes with a great speed. The fallen angels; demons, with red eyes, black skin and wings attack the divine mercilessly… none of the sides flee… the war is on.
This is what you can see on the front cover of Immolation’s classic debut album “Dawn of Possession”. I am writing this review, but I believe that everybody, who claims to be a death metal maniac, has this LP in his collection, as in my honest opinion this album belongs to the most mandatory death metal releases of all time. If you’re into this music you just MUST HAVE such LPs as “Altars of Madness” and “Blessed Are the Sick”, “Scream Bloody Gore” and “Leprosy”, “Left Hand Path” and “Like an Every Flowing Stream”, “Deicide” and “Cause of Death”, plus a couple dozens of albums more, which I consider to be eternal, obligatory classics. And “Dawn of Possession” is certainly among them. This LP, released back in 1991, shows a band, which managed to distinguish themselves from the rest of scene, but at the same time stayed faithful to its roots and created a 100% pure death metal album. How have they achieved this? Well, I guess a lot of credit must go to Robert Vigna, who turned out to be one of the most talented and skilled death metal guitarists of all time. He has an incredible gift to compose and play riffs, which are almost hypnotising and possessing (he!) and which may be quite complex and technical, with some twisted solos here and there, but still the effect is beyond imagination and definitely allows me to say that thanks to this guitar maestro Immolation had a characteristic, unique sound and style since the inception of the band. And this is something not so common… It is enough to watch this man play on the stage, how he behaves and performs to know he’s not a typical death metal guitar player. And “Dawn of Possession” for sure has some of the best material, which he has composed in his career. Those riffs, which you’ll find on this album, are just gigantic. This is a monolith death metal, a powerful and majestic record. And then you have a great drumming from Craig Smilowski, who plays some unique and complicated patterns. His technique is just fantastic… And finally we have Ross Dolan. Well, his bass playing may be totally overshadowed by the Vigna’s (and Wilkinson’s) powerful guitar riffing, but if he isn’t one of the most characteristic and vicious death growlers ever, then I will eat my shoes. Damn, he sounds like a beast from the underworld, screaming some unreadable words in the pits, so netherworldly his voice sounds.
I know that the musicians will always say that their new album is the best, etc, but fans will always have different opinion and quite often (in 99% of cases hehe??) they’ll say that the first couple of albums are the best. I am the same and even if I have all Immolation releases and like them all, I will always say that “Dawn of Possession” is their best LP and one, which has some of the best songs, which this band recorded and composed. Starting with excellent “Into Everlasting Fire” – a song, which can be played on my funeral, if my family will decide to cremate me and which has some utterly excellent riffs, through such anthems as “Those Left Behind” (oh, that amazing opening theme… fuckin love it!) to the final seconds of “Immolation - “Dawn of Possession” is a complete record, filled with amazing songs, killer riffs and ideas and amazing feeling. It’s also filled with fury and blasphemous, evil atmosphere. I guess not everyone will be instantly hooked by the progressiveness of this album, as in many ways “Dawn of Possession” is not an easy listen. This music is not as straight forward and “catchy” as “Altars of Madness”; those riffs and song structures will sound bizarre in the first impression, because of their complexity and frequent rhythm changes (oh, that Smilowski!), but once you listen to it again and again – and you’ll give it repetitive listens, as this music is just possessing –I bet this will all make sense to you and you’ll start catching every part, every riff and phrase without any problems. All in all “Dawn of Possession” is probably the catchiest and easiest to listen to of all Immolation albums anyway hehe! For example I think that “Here In After” requires much more attention than the debut and that’s because it is not only based on the complex structures, but Immolation also have more easier and straight forward, more memorable moments, like that opening theme of “Those Left Behind”, which is just incredibly great!
And maybe it is a good thing that this album has to grown on you. I mean I don’t think that I liked it as much back in the early 90’s as I do nowadays. Obviously I had it in my collection (on a pirate Polish tape hehe) and have listened to it, but there were albums, which I listened and liked more like “Leprosy” for instance. And nowadays I think I can say that I like “Dawn of Possession” more than “Leprosy” (which on the other hand nowadays is slightly boring to me… I guess I just know it too well and I’ve listened to it too many times hehe!). So, if you’ve never heard “Dawn of Possession” and want to hear one of the most significant death metal records of all time, then just give it a go, don’t hesitate.
“You are Jesus, you are lord. Imperfect god, you are nothing to me. For this you say I'll burn for all eternity...”
Standout tracks: “Those Left Behind”, “Into Everlasting Fire”, “No Forgiveness”, “Dawn of Possession”, “After My Prayers”
Final rate: 95/100