Archive Review: Immolation – Here in After

Album: Immolation – Here in After

Release Date: 2/13/1996

Label: Metal Blade Records

Here in After is one of the evilest things I’ve had the fortune to suffer through. It is a once-in-a-lifetime recording by one of the greatest bands in the genre at their pinnacle. This performance cannot be duplicated by not only others, but Immolation themselves. There is nothing that sounds like it, nor will there ever be.

Immolation is a definitive hit/miss band in death metal. To me, they’ve always hit big. Debut release Dawn of Possession was another outstanding album, but was overlooked in the shuffle of Roadrunner Records albums to come from the early 90’s (the band was dropped from the label afterwards and signed with Metal Blade records). Five years have passed and Here in After rewards the anticipating with a much better produced and written recording.

As mentioned, nobody sounds like Immolation. The band defies most death metal conventions (blast beats, chugging guitars, gurgling vocals) and cuts through the listener with a black metal edge. It kind of reminds me of Morbid Angel but with heavier anti-Christian tones. Some complaints critics have point towards a muddled, muffled sound to their music, which in turn makes the band sound sloppy, particularly in the guitar department. I’ve listened to this album again and again (and again and again and again and again) and it sounds articulated and sharp to me. It’s just a different sound that not many will appreciate. Maybe the closest comparison I can think of would be the Australian band Portal, who will come around in the next decade, but Here in After is far more listenable.

But never mind the abilities of its members, the vile execution of vocals from Ross Dolan, Rob Vigna’s incredibly strange guitar riffs (and even stranger, the way he plays his guitar), and Craig Smilowski’s ridiculously fast and thunderous drumming. I’m more enthralled with the band’s ability to put together this album in such a fashion that each song seamlessly transitions to the next. If one track was moved, it would not be as impactful. And the culmination of all evil deeds and hatred forms like a torrent in the finale, Christ’s Cage, a song that intros with a wailing guitar riff played over and over into a gigantic crescendo, and then the majestic, triumphant close of that song and the album is one of the greatest endings to a heavy metal CD I’ve ever heard. But you have to listen to this album all the way through to understand why this song is so important.

Here in After gets a coveted perfect rating. That it has been neglected through time is a travesty. Miles beyond Dawn of Possession, and most mid-90’s death metal albums, Here in After rules on a throne made of the bones of Christians.

Favorite track: Christ’s Cage

Star Rating:

10 out of 10 stars