Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Imperial Triumphant - ‘Abyssal Gods’ (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 27/02/2015
Label: Code666 Records/Aural Music

‘Abyssal Gods’ CD//DD track listing:

1. From Palaces of the Hive
2. Abyssal Gods
3. Dead Heaven
4. Celestial War Rape
5. Opposing Holiness
6. Krokodil
7. Twins
8. Vatican Lust
9. Black Psychedelia
10. Metropolis


New York City experimental black metal tacticians IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT present their new album titled Abyssal Gods, mixed and mastered by Colin Marston (Gorguts, Krallice, Nader Sadek, Atheist, Origin etc.) at Menegroth, The Thousand Caves in New York and boasts the apocalyptic cover craftings of Andrew Tremblay (Deadbots, Downlow’d, Deathface etc.). Focused on urban decay and the imminent extinction of mankind, IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT’s Abyssal Gods serves as the follow-up to the band’s critically applauded, 2013-released "Shrine to the Trident Throne" album and contains ten punishingly traumatic odes of strategically composed black-addled mayhem bedecked in angular riff incursions, bestial vocal tirades and an overall air of disease, dread and looming disaster as well as a guest appearance by Bloody Panda’s Yoshiko Ohara and more. Once commended by No Clean Singing for, “a sickening scintillation of the surreal and the sadistic that together conjure an evocative glimpse into hell,” IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT has been orchestrating vanguard black metal since 2005. Citing an eclectic palette of influences that includes everything from Deathspell Omega to Polish post-serialism composer Krzysztof Penderecki, the band features members of investigational death metal contortionists Pyrrhon as well as instrumental rock collective Secret Chiefs 3 and New York death metal legion Malignancy.

Imperial Triumphant is:

Ilya Goddessraper | Vocals/Guitars
Malave | Bass
Cohen | Drums
Grohowski | Drums


What an insane, beautiful mess this album is.

I was first introduced to Imperial Triumphant via ‘Goliath’, their 2013 EP and the more time I spent with the two songs, the more I came away with the feeling that Imperial Triumphant is essentially an alternate universe Deathspell Omega in which every member of the band is both American and a manic psychopath with the shortest of attention spans. To say it was a release that left me wanting to hear more would be an understatement. Now, in 2015 we have ‘Abyssal Gods’ their second full length and the crazy factor appears to have become more intense in the last two years.

The album opens in complete chaos: wailing saxophone, disjointed drum blasting and swarming, virtually indecipherable guitar work. Even after things settle down—using that phrase only in the slightest of its versions—it’s still churning, nauseating and terrifying. There’s nothing to feel good about here. There aren’t any fun NWOBHM melodies or sprawling sonic soundscapes or the like. ‘Abyssal Gods’ is an exercise in excess and grotesquery. As the band undulates, groans and contorts its way through the album’s forty-two minutes; there isn’t a shred of hope or joy to go around. For that reason, ‘Abyssal Gods’ is likely to prove itself a challenging listen for just about anyone, even for the most battle-tested, callous metal head.

To be a bit more crude about it: this album is fucking weird. It’s weird in the way that listening to Gorguts’ Obscura for the first time in 1998 was weird. You know that there’s a method to its madness, but it’s so unconventional that it’s difficult to truly process, even after multiple listens. People aren’t supposed to make guitars moan and wail quite like this. I don’t mean Slayer abusing their whammy bar. I mean bending notes in and around each other in ways that seem intent on making us all vomit. I mean combining notes into chords that aren’t likely to make a damn lick of sense unless you’re actually in the band or well-educated in the field of bizarre shit people can make guitars do (which I believe can be you major at Juilliard). If you want a specific example: at four minutes into the song “Krokodil”—likely named for this horrific drug— the listener gets a brief reprieve only to have the band musically lurch, belch and twitch with an onslaught of bellowing, amelodic chords, twanging guitar leads and cavernous death metal vocals. It’s absolutely the stuff of aural nightmares and yet it’s absolutely enthralling at the same time.

Certainly Imperial Triumphant share a stratosphere with the Gorguts, Artificial Brains, Pyrrhons and Deathspell Omegas of this universe, but this is a different breed of genius. There’s a sickness, a mentally “unwell” aspect to ‘Abyssal Gods’ that you simply cannot find anywhere else. The jangling, out of tune ragtime break early on in “Opposing Holiness”. The hallucinogenic guitar solos in “Black Psychedelia”. It all points to an album no one should miss out on, although you’re likely to come out the other end of it a worse person, or at least in a worse mood. You can write this review off as hyperbole if you want, but you’d be wrong. Speaking for my own experience, this album had a real impact on me. This album’s fucked with my brain in a way very few albums ever have. ‘Obscura’ was one. ‘Kénôse’ was another. Khanate’s first two albums have had a similar effect on me. That’s the kind of company ‘Abyssal Gods’ is in.

Words by: Daniel Jackson

You will likely be able to get a digital copy here. You can pre-order a CD copy here.

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