November 15, 2013

Imperial Triumphant - Goliath

Review by Dean Brown

With black and grey cover art of an execution scene whereby the accused is about to get skull-crushed by the unforgiving weight of an elephant, New York's Imperial Triumphant (comprised of the rhythm section of Relapse’s latest signees Pyrrhon, a second drummer named Kenny Grohowski, and guitarist/vocalist/orchestrator Ilya Goddessraper) set out a stark marker before a jagged note of the band's music is even heard. It's a cautionary image; a "back-out-now" moment for anyone unfamiliar with the oblique nature of Imperial Triumphant's past songwriting.

The follow up to the band's 2012 full-length debut Abominamentvm, Goliath, takes the title of everyone's favourite lost haven of hedonism, Sodom and Gomorrah, for its two tracks totalling 13 minutes and change. The godforsaken consequence of two fools engorging on the forbidden fruit also provides the inspiration for salacious lines like, "Condemnation! Ye Sodomites. Decadence: gluttons of wine and hallucinogens". In fact, the decadence and opiatic disarray doesn't stop with the lyrics; it probes its way right through to the music.

Goliath is a dizzying blackened death metal free-fall without a foothold in sanity. Yet there is coherence and trajectory to the jazzy turns of both songs, and the band's ability to evaporate and reconvene in another related dimension speaks of the fork-tongued Deathspell Omega, or even Dysrhythmia's disregard for linear boundaries. Inhuman intonations beckon at the beginning of "Sodom" leading us through momentary mantric chants that get lost in Gorguts-ian riff surges that detonate with delirium-inducing atonality. This queasy, ill-begotten discordance builds itself an impenetrable fortress during “Gomorrah”, but there is also a cinematic pulse to the pacing of Goliath's stride that no amount of side-winding shards of riffs and alien harmonies (Colin Marston even appears with a complimentary Warr guitar solo), chaotic blast patterns, and nauseating tempo changes can mask. And therein lies the ingenuity: Imperial Triumphant's gift for writing wide-screen yet bewilderingly technical blackened death is subtle in showing its grand design. But peer far beyond the allure of the "holy orgy" and Goliath’s truth is laid bare upon the "altar of whores", a left hand turn down the "path to Hedon".

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  1. Great review--this sounds awesome. I'd just argue with your first sentence. Pretty sure, given the squirting blood, that the skull-crushing is not "about to" happen, but is, in fact, happening.

    1. You could very well be right. Although the box may have been used for more than one elephant head-crush that day. Plus my eyesight ain't great; I could just about see the elephant.

  2. You gotta love the fact that, way back at the very beginning of elephant execution history (which my quick research says might have started as early as 200 BC!), this happened:

    Guy 1: "O.K., so we decided we're going to kill this guy. I'm going to go hit him in the head with this stick until he's dead."
    Guy 2: "No....wait...." (strokes beard thoughtfully) "Bring elephant!"
    Guy 1: (sighs, shakes head) "Dude, seriously?"

    1. lmao.

      How do you say, "dude, seriously?" in Latin? Or would it be ancient Greek?

  3. Haha! I love this comment thread! Thanks for reading and making me laugh, guys.