IMMANIFEST – Macrobial

IMMANIFEST – Macrobial

No one with even a passing appreciation of symphonic black metal can deny the prowess of "Spiritual Black Dimensions", "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia" or "Death Cult Armageddon". On these albums Dimmu Borgir perfected the genre unlike either before or ever since. The Floridian sextet Immanifest boldly walks the same path on their debut full length, but while they hold their own in matching instrumental ability, the good but not great songwriting reveals the typical flaws and shortcomings of a debutante.

According to their own testimony, Immanifest concerns themselves with entities contacted through supernatural rituals conducted by Dr. John Dee (mathematician, occult philosopher & advisor to Queen Elizabeth I) in the mid 16th century and thus lyrically explores themes such as consciousness, death, astral travel, advanced and sequestered technology, and its weaponization through global war as a sacrificial blood ritual, all in relation to horrifying supernatural entities supposedly populating the Universe to our ignorance, not unlike those described by Howard Phillips Lovecraft in his stories. The band, presently consisting of Roberto "Anton Kalaj" Calentano (keyboards, guitars), Allen "Asgrim" Nunn (guitars, keyboards, clean vocals), Eric "Eldrik Bloodaxe" Avant (vocals), Christopher "Dracin" Santino (vocals), David Belmonte (bass) and Chris Pistillo (drums), formed in Tampa, Florida, in 2008, independently debuting with the "Qliphotic" EP, 2 years later. The EP foreshadowed, this, the 9 track full length, which, musically, seeks to combine symphonic black metal of Dimmu Borgir or Borgnagar with symphonic technical melodic death metal of Scar Symmetry or Darkane in a unifying powerful sound. Do they succeed?

They do and they don’t. When it comes to instrumental ability and skills, Immanifest are right up there with Dimmu Borgir or Scar Symmetry enhanced with the atmospheric synth/keyboard stylings of Fear Factory. Thanks to 3 vocalists, providing for deathly growls, black metal rasps and semi-operatic cleans, there are some interesting melodic hooks you could sing along to (Emissaries Of Ikhenaton, Jahbulon’s Labyrinth) while the melodic harmony approaches Dark Tranquillity (Ultraterrestrial Creation), with Immanifest capable of creating proper atmospherics as well as comfortable at every pace. Immanifest reach the plateau of their creativity in the single standout, the closer ""Spirits Of Old" where even death/doom a’la My Dying Bride or Swallow The Sun enhances their typical black/death stylings, all of the above a credit to their compositional songwriting abilities.

But most of these tracks sound like rehearsal to result in proper songs and this is especially evident in "Wandjina" and "Black Miracle", especially the former. These songs tease with lengthy symphonic keys-and-section-only sequences interwoven with the fierce deathened black and blackened death, something which sounded fabulous on Dimmu Borgir’s, Fear Factory’s or Darkane’s albums, but here is overdone and causes the listener to occasionally drift off in unrelated thought. Of course, we can and should attribute most of this to lack of experience even for a band with nearly 12 year history, but I have a feeling these guys were so driven by their lyrical concept that the music became subservient to it and the end product suffered in the process. Finally, the production leaves a lot to be desired, with too much treble and not enough of that delicious punchy bass of Dimmu Borgir or Fear Factory.

There is no doubt as to whether or not Immanifest can one day rival Dimmu Borgir or Scar Symmetry in the art of fusing symphonic arrangments with extreme metal across the genres, but that time is still distant future and "Macrobial" merely reveals their potential to achieve that goal. In the comparison between similarly themed and purposed label mates, Singularity, Immanifest falls significantly short.