Immersion, the latest from Belarus’ Irreversible Mechanism, has all the ingredients of a masterpiece without the refining touch of a true master. This album feels as though Irreversible Mechanism found the recipe for a Fallujah album in an issue of Martha Stewart Living and just went for it. All the ingredients are thrown in, from the ambient interludes to the technical guitars and tortured screams, but the doses aren’t properly measured, and the flavors aren’t adequately blended, unfortunately.
Before you even spin the first track, you can deduce what this band is going for simply by looking at their logo and cover art. The font is intense, and overly embellished while having a certain industrial quality to it. The same can be said for the moniker itself. The cover art is an epic and fantastical landscape with jagged peaks and a rich, broad palette of blended color—certainly the sort of feel they hope to capture in the music. However, like the music itself, the cover of Immersion feels like a cheap knockoff of the artists that made the genre exciting—Fallujah, Obscura, Rivers of Nihil, and Beyond Creation. As a fan of the aforementioned bands, my curiosity was peaked by Immersion, but after several listens, I can affirm that Irreversible Mechanism can not stand beside such acts.
From the very opening, it becomes obvious that this band wants to be Fallujah, and I don’t fault them that. My issue is not that they have attached to this genre of music—it’s with the execution. “Existence 1: Contemplation” is intended as an ambient, ethereal introduction to the album, meant to seduce the listener, but it feels far too long and repetitive before building to that first heavy riff we all expect. The payoff just isn’t there, and then, they inexplicably return to the boring ambient section, only to repeat the riff again at the opening of “Existence II: Collision.” There is no reason to take us through these sections twice. If they took the first minute of track one and tacked that onto the beginning of track two, it would be such a better opening.
There are issues of proportionality throughout the whole thing. Parts repeat when they ought not to, are cut short when they should be sustained and transition awkwardly from one part to the next. It’s a real shame, because the musicians have the chops to perform well, but their vision is simply missing. For instance, the chorus of “Collision” and the guitar solo following it are actually quite nice—engaging, and interesting, but at four minutes in, they completely abandon the arc of the melody for a rather stock and boring guitar riff which gives way to a completely forced ambient break.
The album lacks melody. One of the things that makes Fallujah albums so successful is that they can simultaneously deliver beautiful sweeping melodies amongst intense and complicated riffing. Immersion has no grasp of this concept. It feels like every minute or so they assume they have to jam a different part in there.
The most successful track may be the single, “Abolution.” Now, I had to look this word up because I’ve never seen it before. I guess it’s a combination of “abolish” and “evolution,” and apparently it’s what atheists who don’t believe in evolution want to do? I must admit, because these guys are from Belarus, part of me wondered if it was just a typo, but the lyrics do proclaim “evolution reached it’s peak.” Anyway, this song carries the most complete melodies, including some rather nice clean vocals juxtaposed against some excellent screams. The chorus of this one gives us a glimpse of what the band might be if they can gain some consistency.
I should point out that when I first watched the video for this track, I couldn’t tell whether the lead vocalist was indeed the lead vocalist, an interpretive dancer, or someone translating the lyrics through sign language. Still not quite sure. It’s a unique stage presence, I’ll give him that. Not sure it’s what I’d have gone for, though.
After “Abolution”, however, “Simulacra” (which happens to be what I see this band as) is almost a complete throw away. I’m sure it’s intended as a sophisticated, melodic interlude to break up two heavier tracks, but it’s extremely repetitive and boring without being groovy or entrancing.
“Footprints in the Sand,” like “Abolution” is close to a complete song, and is engaging for the most part, until you get to the outro. Obviously channeling Fallujah, Irreversible Mechanism use a repeating guitar section with a ton of melodic tones and reverb as a backdrop for some sampled audio, here. It feels forced, and yes, as you feared, that’s dialogue from The Matrix. Unforgivable.
The last four tracks of the album are decent. They don’t contain any flagrant fouls, but aren’t particularly memorable either. On the whole, the back half is stronger than the first, but still no home runs, and no strong narrative carrying the listener from one section to the next.
Without a doubt, Irreversible Mechanism are most successful with their choruses. The use of clean vocals in contrast to some pretty great screaming is actually quite effective, and the choruses carry some nice melodies. If they simply structured the songs around those moments and didn’t use the tropes of the genre as a crutch, Immersion could have been a great album. The guys clearly have the skills to get there, just not the maturity and vision. As is, the album feels like a bunch of ideas thrown together without any meaningful editing, and that’s too bad. That being said, it wouldn’t surprise me if they did some growing and did deliver a true masterpiece the next time around. I’ll be watching.
FAVORITE TRACK: “Abolution”
RELEASE DATE: 9/14/18
FOR FANS OF: Fallujah, Obscura