IMMOLATION – III/IV – Controlled chaotic music

IMMOLATION – III/IV – Controlled chaotic music

Eternal Terror og Imhotep gir denne uken sine trofaste death metal lesere en uke med IMMOLATION. Mandag til fredag! Dere får et intervju fra 2005 i tillegg til ett 3 delt fra 2008. Bli med på en ugudelig reise i Immolations verden!


Your music contains many paradoxes – i.e. that on one hand it is very chaotic, but this chaos is also very well structured. It is controlled and carefully engineered chaos. Do you agree?

Ross: Yeah, I think so. It is not like a grind kind of chaos, it is very controlled. It is musical at some points, but in a dark way. Add some method to the madness.

From before Steve joined the band, there was a lot of chaos on the drums, they always sound like they are about to fall off, but they always keep in time. It is like they are almost going to miss the beat all the time, but it is still tight as hell.

Ross: Yes, it is within the boundary somehow, yes I know!

It is like a kind of stop/start thing, like you have many rapid breaks in the music.

Steve: Jerky Jerky.

Robert: We had a lot more of that on the earlier records. You learn as you go, writing better songs, the stuff flows much better, it is not as much chaos. It is chaos, but it is not just out of hand chaos. Everything is smoother and flows better now.

Ross: I think the dynamics are stronger now, instead of writing a song that has many cool riffs, which are just thrown in. They do not really get the chance to sink into the listener. Now we have fewer parts, but they really get the time to breathe and mature throughout the song. If I listen to "Failures For Gods" now, I think "wow, there are so many cool parts, which never really got the chance to grow". They came and they went, and that was it.  But you know, we learn as we go. We learn with each release.

I heard you write most of the songs in one rehearsal?

Ross: Songs come quick, even in the past.

Robert: I think if you have too much time to sit and think about it, the heart of it will diminish. It is a little more spontaneous in a way. We plan it, but it is not really set. Before we go to studio we finetune it a little bit.
We usually go the studio about two and a half months after we start writing riffs. And then a few weeks later, we start putting a few songs together, go over to Steve's house, maybe a week later we will go over again, change everything we showed hit the week before, then go over it again. It is a process. But I think it has been better with the last record. I had a couple of weeks to show him, go over the songs with him, write a couple of extra songs for the hell of it. That was pretty good.


Normally chaos is seen as uncomfortable, but I assume that you and the people listening to the music feel empowered from it. At least that the music gives a good feeling, in some way.

Ross: Our stuff? On stage it is very empowering. That is where it counts. Studio is bullshit, you can do anything in the studio. It is on stage it counts, that is where it is live, and people see you… Death Metal fans know your songs, they know the fills, the drum rolls, the lyrics, they know everything. You can not fool them, you have to give everything when you are on stage. And that is a good feeling, on a good night when everything goes good.

Do you think your fans feel a kind of empowerment from listening to your music?

Steve: I do not know if it is empowerment, but when I first heard immolation I recognized that somehow it was communicated to me that there was someone out there who felt the way I did. Immediately I recognized that in the deepest sense. So I do not know if it is empowerment, necessarily, but it is a comfortable feeling. Somebody out there is twisted like me.

Could it be that in some subtle way, the emotions are communicated in the music?

Ross: Yeah, definitely.

Robert: Like Ross said, if there is a good show, and a great vibe with the crowd, which gives us a great vibe in performing even harder, and that goes back and forth. Everybody gets more out of it.

Steve: It is a cyclical gratification, man. It goes round and round till the last sound. Last night, in Gothenburg, was sick.

Ross: Tiny stage, and the crowd was hanging on top of us.

Some people may think that people listen to the music because they are depressed, or sad. They want to feed on this emotion. What would you say to that?

Ross: There is a type of music for every emotion. It depends on what mood you are in.

Steve: I listen to heavy stuff at night a lot of the time, fucking great, you know? It relaxes me

Robert: Because you listen to dark music, does not mean you are depressed or pissed off. Sometimes you just listen to it for the aggression, the power.

Steve: Yeah, The Power!

Robert: A lot of the time it is just a positive energy you get out of it. It all depends.

Steve: Good music always takes me to another plane.

Will it be more fitting to say that the music is powerful or energetic, than to say it is aggressive and hateful?

Robert: I think it is more about the energy and the power. In our lyrics it is mostly about looking from the outside, how we see things. For sure there is some hatred in there.

Steve: There was only hatred for the first five albums.

Robert: But still, it is hatred for what we see goes on wrong in the world. And for things that we believe are false and full of shit. But the music is definitely powerful. You get the emotion of the music itself.

Are there many different emotions contained within the music, but some perhaps more subtle? I believe that first one can only hear the most powerful part, and then you can discover more depth…

Steve: yeah, I think so. Lot of different parts. There are miserable riffs, there are lashing out riffs,

Robert: Yes, it is a kind of mixture of everything.

Steve: On the last couple of albums there are even those riffs that are, almost like a celebratory thing (demonstrates)

Robert: yeah, totally! So we have a monday night sports theme!

One can hum pretty much all your tunes!

Ross: yeah, pretty much you can.

Robert: Sometimes I get ideas, and I hum it into my phone. And later I make riffs out of them.


I noticed that you are quite similar to black metal in many aspects, but at the same time it is not black metal.

Ross: It comes from the same place, we all have the same roots, come from the same background. Black, Death or Grind. The black metal bands were listening to the same bands that we were listening to, we just took it in a different direction. Black Metal has a different vibe. To me, Bathory is the band that pretty much defined Black Metal. It sounded different at the time. To me that was what the black metal sound was. "Seven Churches" by Possessed, is to me what defines death metal, more than anything else. Bathory… The first three records all pretty much defined black metal.
We listened to all of that stuff, so it makes sense that we have a lot of variations.

I think you do all the disharmonic stuff even better than black metal bands. Other death metal bands, like Cannibal corpse i.e., don't do this disharmonic stuff so much. It is not that cold sound. You have that cold sound which most of the black metal bands today don't.

Ross: It is definitely dark, that is what we always strive to be.

Robert: mister miserable, right here (points to Ross)

Steve: mister miserable fuck.

Robert: I do not listen to a lot of black metal. I mostly listen to nonmetal stuff. I listen to a lot of easy listening and contemporary most of the time. I usually do not touch my guitar for 6 or 8 months before I start writing. Once I start working… When "we are going to studio in a couple of months", then I start writing. So to me, it is actually a good thing, because I am away for a while – I am away from metal for a while, from our stuff. If you play all the time, and listen to different stuff, and then try to write new stuff… That stuff starts creeping in. When I have not played for a long time, it comes out fresh. It comes from feeling, I come up with a riff, I record it, then I move on.

You do not plan "now I will write a song with a certain feel"?

Robert: We do not know the feel of the album until the album is done. We all hear it for the first time, when it is done in the studio. "Ok, that sounds pretty good." But every album is gonna have a different type of sound, and we do not know what that is going to be, until it is finished. It is not planned.

Steve: when we put the vocals on it, it already sounds different. Then, when we put the leads, wow, totally different from what I thougt. It is a weird process. We never have the vocals or the leads figured out until we record the album.

Robert: The only thing which is prepared is sometimes the lyrics. This time Ross had some ideas, but no one had heard it. We do not hear all the songs complete until it is done. We hear the rhythm tracks with drums. We hear the flow and make sure it works, but we do not know where that will go. Then we put on the other stuff. has some very extensive analysis of your music. I.e., about the "Here In After" album:

introductory fragments meld into raging muffled chord playing which reverts to the pure streaming of smooth guitar textures created via tremelo playing at high speed, before fountaining into harmonic possibility and dissolving into chaotic and dissonant but expectant… (Steve interrupts: yeah, I definitely heard that one… laughs)

Did this make any sense to you?


Ross: Some of it. It is a little longwinded, just say what you mean.

"Depth of partially oppositional sounds enhances mood like descent into an uncharted cave. Transitory themes become reality in thunderous revelations, and unfurling riff progressions culminate in sensible yet abstractly inverted visions of theme"

Ross: Sounds good. It is definitely positive. He is trying to go beyond the typical review. He is talking about what it makes him feel, where it takes him. Almost like what we were talking about earlier, that music can take you to a certain place. He is elaborating that in a review, and I think it might go over some people's heads.

"The basic force of inspiration in this music is the theme of creativity out of destruction." Do you agree? (about "Here In After")

Ross: Pretty vague man, I am sure you can make it fit if you want it to.