It’s a rare and enjoyable occurrence that hitting play on an album for the first time is promptly followed by your preconception of what to expect being ground into microscopic, barely identifiable smithereens, yet with their second full-length ‘Abyssal Gods’, New Yorkers Imperial Triumphant have paced an early bid for 2015’s biggest ‘what the fuck was that’ of the year. The squalid, depraved and absolutely vitriolic black metal contained within this record defies all expectation of this relatively unheard of band, and suggests that the name Imperial Triumphant will be one soon lauded by fans of Deathspell Omega, Blut Aus Nord, Portal, and any other act dedicated to psychotically-tinged atmosphere and composition.
Beginning with the absolutely frenzied assault of ‘From Palaces’, which incorporates some highly dramatic sound effects into the furiously technical drum and guitar composition to eerie, imposing results, ‘Abyssal Gods’ instantly and abruptly catapults the listener headfirst into the unhinged tension of Imperial Triumphant’s world. The atmosphere instantly evokes an uneasy and detached urban existence; uncomfortably dense and threatening, the sound reflects the conflicting isolation and stimulation of metropolitan life, with the slower guitar passages capturing moments of bubbling rage before exploding into musical barrage of truly deranged scope and aggression. On top of this onslaught, the crawling, guttural vocals add further emphasis to the speed and technicality of the music while the contrasting tempo of each simultaneously brings more discomfort to the overall atmosphere. This volatile approach doesn’t let up throughout the album, with the subsequent eight tracks each being an exercise in Herculean musicianship, mind-bending composition and suffocatingly oppressive darkness, the result perfectly expressing the band’s clearly contemptible outlook of the nature of humanity. In spite of the sheer intensity of the record however, the assault is an immersive listen, the multiple layers of each track making them distinct within the overall passage of the album. From the ominously chanted introduction of ‘Krokodil’, that blends an almost penitent, solemn atmosphere with a blackened avant-garde assault to produce an oddly religious track, to the chunky, industrious assault of ‘Twins’, each song adds its own particular darkness to the overall atmosphere of the record.
Culminating in ‘Metropolis’, a track that digs beneath the cultured metropolitan veneer of NYC to unearth an erratic, frenzied chaos under the surface, ‘Abyssal Gods’ achieves the dual objective of perfectly capturing its inspiration, and expressing it with a morbid creativity and skill that demonstrates unequivocally that Imperial Triumphant are a band you need to watch.