Imperial Triumphant - Abyssal Gods - (N/A)
Published on February 10, 2015
A meditation on “[the] darkness of human existence and the weight of life in NYC,” Imperial Triumphant’s sophomore full-length, Abyssal Gods, has these iconoclasts gleefully throwing genre conventions into the proverbial woodchipper and using whatever comes out on the other side as the foundation on which to construct a towering collection of hymns most foul. Having log since evolved beyond the thrashy (and somewhat militaristic) Kommandant-like black metal of their early demos and EPs, Imperial Triumphant 2K15 is all about making the nightmare flesh by way of songcraft that pulses with the most unspeakable of horrors.
Ever-so-pretentious intro paragraph aside, it really is hard to articulate just how goddamned unsettling Abyssal Gods is. That these guys specialize in metal ripped straight from the maw of hell was already abundantly clear on Abominamentvm (2012) and the Goliath EP (2013), but it’s on Abyssal Gods that they well and truly spread their creative wings by barreling headlong into some of the most discordant and structurally complex black metal this side of Deathspell Omega. Of course a mere regurgitation of said Frenchmen’s distinctive sound would produce a novelty value sure to evaporate quicker than fog in the noonday sun, hence we also get a fluttering of strings, horrifically hissed/whispered vocals and unnerving dark ambient embellishments. Interplay between the chaotic and the (relatively) serene is at a premium here, with deft instrumental passages and the aforementioned ambient segues strategically placed to help break up the relentless onslaught of the guitars. The latter still rages wildly in the discordant style established on previous releases but a definite increase in technicality discernible throughout.
The riffs blurt forth with such atonality and randomness that they essentially function more as ad hoc motifs that dart in a thousand directions one moment (“From Palaces of the Hive”), kick up a jangly gallop the next (“Dead Heaven”) or just hang around and drone if need be (“Krokodil”). The instrumentals/interludes are nothing to scoff at either, with the crescendo of strings on “Metropolis” conjuring up a nightmarish vista that sits somewhere between The Shining’s Overlook Hotel, Twin Peaks’ Black Lodge and Insidious’ The Further. Undeniably unnerving and thus totally in keeping with the overall vibe of the album as a whole. If there’s one criticism to be leveled at Abyssal Gods it’s that the production tends to sound hollow in places (particularly in terms of the drums), which is strange considering that Colin Marston handled mixing and mastering duties on here. Speaking of Marston, Krallice is also a good reference point in terms of style, though it has to be said that Imperial Triumphant is cut from an infinitely darker cloth.
Having already rewarded 2013’s Goliath with a perfect score, I will only be reiterating the obvious if I were to follow suit again. Besides, no numerical rating can truly capture the essence of the madness on display here. Forget such arbitrariness. Play it. Feel it. Fear it.