|Cover art by Andrew Tremblay|
With Abyssal Gods, Imperial Triumphant return with their first substantial effort. Since 2008 the Brooklyn-based dissonance mongers have been stingy with their offerings; only a handful of EPs have seen the light of day along with a 2012 “full-length” that clocked in at a mere 25 minutes. Finally, a full 40 minutes of new music crawls its way out of the darkness just a year after joining the already fantastic roster of Aural Music.
The band should be no stranger to those familiar with the world of bonkers black metal. Following in the footsteps of experimentalists like Deathspell Omega, Thantifaxath, or even Nightbringer, Imperial Triumphant are part of what I like to refer to as the other post-black metal movement. Focusing on technicality, harsh melodies and unpredictable song structures above all else, it’s a far cry from those stuck in the Second Wave or trying to bring ambient wandering into the mix. Abyssal Gods builds on their already signature sound, diving deeper into a cavern of beautiful chaos.
Every song is a mixed bag of frenetic musicianship, seemingly random arrangements, and otherworldly vocals. And honestly, on paper that sounds like something I should hate. But the music is enthralling as it absorbs your mind and soul and demands attention. It’s a horror movie that you can’t look away from. What sets Imperial Triumphant apart from similar groundbreakers is there is no art school pretension or kvlter-than-thou mentality. They don't obfuscate their identities or claim membership of a secret occult order and behind all the mayhem is the clear sound of a talented band having a great time. There’s a moment near the beginning of “Opposing Holiness” that gives a glimpse of the band’s soul. These few seconds of a fun acoustic ditty before the song completely explodes into madness is one of the most memorable parts of the album.
Colin Marston’s production is beefy as usual, and he put most of the emphasis on the drums and bass, making the listen just that much more challenging. But it’s a nice contrast to virtuosic showoffs to find yourself searching for the intricate guitar lines instead of having them scream their importance at you. “Metropolis” ends the album sounding like the band doing their best impression of a insane 50's lounge act, enhancing the confusion of what was just experienced. Abyssal Gods takes this niche style of black metal to a whole new level, making it both more fascinating and challenging than ever before. And even if there’s likely few riffs or melodies that you’ll find yourself remembering later, it's an exceptional foray into sonic madness that's unlikely ever to be repeated.