Interview Immolation – “In a sense ‘Atonement’ was, in more ways than one, our own little celebration”

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I took a little break from all the tumult and the afternoon sun at Graspop Metal Meeting this year, and went backstage to meet up with my personal heroes and death metal dads from New York’s legendary Immolation. It’s been a while since their last record ‘Atonement’ came out, but I’m still spinning it. At Graspop, I got to see them play for the first time after a quick lunch at the overpriced pizza stand. The show was very good and their performance impressive (check out the review here). I had a real blast as did everyone else, I’m sure. Obviously I couldn’t wait to have a chat with them.

GRIMM: First of all, guys, I wanna tell you how much I enjoyed the show. It was my first Immolation show ever and it won’t be my last.

All: Thank you. We had a good time. Great crowd, Everything was amazing.

GRIMM: Not too early for you?

Vigna: Well, it was early in the sense that we came here after a six-and-a-half-hour drive through Germany. We didn’t get a lot of sleep since we had to check in at 11 am. Even so, although we didn’t get a lot of sleep, if any at all, the show made up for it. We were able to get ourselves together and make it happen, so we’re happy.

GRIMM: Even though you were feeling tired, it wasn’t noticeable at all. And people showed up.

Vigna: Yes, as far as early time slots go, the place was packed. The crowd just went for it. It was awesome. No complaints here.

GRIMM: Yes I could really tell the crowd dug it. I even saw a girl in the crowd mouthing the words along to a couple of songs.

All: Wow, that’s awesome! Killer!

GRIMM: Indeed. So how has the tour been treating you so far?

Vigna: This is our third show. Tomorrow we’ll be playing Hellfest, and finishing with Mystic Festival. After that we’re touring Asia, South-America and Australia. Then we’re coming back to Europe in August with Brutal Assault and Party San. It’s crazy. It’s as close to a world tour as we’ve ever gotten, all within one year. And we’ll be back in Belgium too in November for the last ‘Atonement‘ show. We think it’s time to wrap up that album.

From left to right: Robert Vigna, Alex Bouks, Ross Dolan & Steve Shalaty.

GRIMM: That’s amazing. You’re quite the globetrotters. It’s been a fun ride with ‘Atonement’, hasn’t it? It is still one of my favourite death metal albums. I actually found it to be the heaviest album of 2017. And that’s coming from someone who digs around in the underground a lot. I mean, I come across a lot of heavy shit.

Vigna: Well, thanks a lot, man. It got received really well, which we found surprising *laughs*. It seemed to be the first Immolation album that was praised by absolutely everyone. We have a lot of albums with good scores, sure, but people just didn’t feel the need to say it. Whereas the response to ‘Atonement‘ was loud and clear.

Also, as a band we’ve been doing this for over thirty years. We feel like ‘Atonement‘ was the pinnacle of our writing. We’d learned a lot over the years about recording, production, which sounds we like, which ones we don’t, how we want things to be etc. It all just came together well. We really nailed it on that record. To us, ‘Atonement‘ clearly is the culmination of past experience.

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