Immension are a British band whose self-released debut album has caused a bit of a splash in underground metal circles over the last few months. Several folks whose opinions I trust have lauded Immension as a fresh take on classic thrash and traditional metal, so I ordered a copy of the CD from the band’s website. The album’s digipak packaging is about as barebones as it gets, with no booklet, no lyrics, and just a couple of shadowy, arty photos of the three band members adorning front and back covers. Of course, it’s what’s on the shiny silver disc that matters, but people buying physical product these days like the extras that ordinarily go with a CD release, and there are none to be found here.
After spending some quality time with ‘In Vain,’ I do understand the praise being lavished on the album in certain quarters. There are a lot of things that Immension do very well, from the songwriting to the performances to the production, all of which are at such pro levels that I’m genuinely surprised no larger indie label has snapped them up. Clearly, Metallica, circa the Black album, is a huge influence on these guys, but to me that’s a good thing. Oh, I know it’s fashionable these days to slag the Black album as the biggest sellout since The Monkees, but if you can put aside the hype, the overplayed-to-death songs, and the sterling Metallica pedigree that preceded it, the Black album really has some remarkable moments. The dynamics, the simplicity, the catchiness, and the ability to weave quiet melancholy bits into the arena-rock aesthetic were and are laudable. Well, those are the lessons that Immension has incorporated into their own songs. There are thrashy parts, introspective radio-friendly ballads (see “Love Never Dies” or “All that Remains”), and memorable refrains and vocal melodies piled high throughout the record’s 43-minute running time. The midtempo stomp of “The Fantasy,” for example, screams Black album in both composition and execution.
That said, Immension diverge from the Metallica blueprint in significant ways. The pummeling rifftastic speed and energy of tracks like “The Enemy Within” and “Lost & Forgotten” show much more of a speed/thrash orientation than Lars & Co. had in the early 1990s. The powerful, emotive vocals of Jake Kearsley have only a touch of Hetfield in them, sounding much more akin to the cleans of Matt Heavy (Trivium) and Matt Tuck (Bullet for My Valentine), albeit without those fellows’ growls or screams. But I guess that brings us to the rub, doesn’t it? The two bands I just named are verboten to many of today’s old-school obsessed true metalheads who are eager to discard anything that doesn’t sound like, I dunno, Angel Witch or something. I get that mindset, I really do, because I share it to a significant extent. But there is room on my CD shelf and in my heart for some of the better commercial / modern metal of today, whether that be Volbeat or Trivium or Hardcore Superstar or whatever. If that makes me a poser, then so be it. I guess my point is this: If the idea of a thrashier, ultra-polished, purely clean vocals hybrid of Metallica’s Black album with, say, Trivium or Avenged Sevenfold triggers an involuntary gag reflex (and I know it does for some of you), then just move along. Immension are not the band for you. For everyone else, give Immension’s ‘In Vain’ a listen. It’s certainly not my favorite style, but they execute it so well on cuts like the aforementioned “Lost & Forgotten” that I cannot help but be drawn in. Also, kudos to the band for going out on a limb, finding their own sound, and not simply following the herd like so many of today’s newer acts have a propensity to do.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~