Imagine that the prehensile appendage of some unseen, Lovecraftian creature wraps around your ankles and pulls you through an interdimensional portal into a realm far worse than Hell. You are dragged, writhing in terror, through corridors of darkness where malformed beings grasp at and pick away at your flesh. This is a realm where your worse fears and anxieties are manifested and heightened. A place that acts as an intense fever dream of which there is no waking. A place where death is the only release from relentless psychological torture. This is where you are transported to while listening to Imperial Triumphant‘s Abyssal Gods. Through the use of mangled instrumentation, haunting atmospheres and a modern black metal foundation, this New York musical act creates one of the more unsettling and simultaneously awe-inspiring metal releases of the year. It’s an intensely claustrophobic record that only the most masochistic metal fans will enjoy.
Much like their contemporaries Deathspell Omega and Dodecahedron, Imperial Triumphant shed most, if not all remnants of traditional black metal in favor of a dissonant, technical, atmospheric whirlwind of madness. The record begins its 42 minute excursion with a wall of ear-splitting noise on “From Palaces of the Hive”. Guitars conjure layers of cacophonous, abstract riffs that blend together with high octane drumming and erratic trumpets to create a suffocating auditory experience. The instrumentation cycles between these walls of unbridled chaos, aberrated melodies and bending, disfigured Gorgutsian crawls throughout. The album’s title track follows shortly after with a disturbing, moaning choral vocal collage that drifts throughout while the band churn out hellacious serpentine licks underneath. This unholy triptych ends with the deformed “Dead Heaven”. The song begins and ends with discombobulating riffs that slide up and down the neck and bend in a nauseating fashion. The meat of the track features an onslaught of surrealist rhythms and claustrophobic smogs of dissonance and madness. The album’s centerpiece is an eight-minute leviathan by the name of “Krokodil”. The demonic opus begins with ethereal atmospheres and choral accompaniment before sinister guitar melodies come slithering into view. The guitars layer discordant riffs upon each other as the song lurches about malevolently. The song eventually gives way to a lengthy cacophony that would most likely be played on the elevator ride to Hell. Imperial Triumphant end their magnum opus on an odd, but frightening note with “Metropolis”; an improvised jazz piece full of disjunctive strings, dizzying piano and an overall atmosphere of dread.
Abyssal Gods is a heavy, terrifying, highly calculated and impressive record. The instrumentation ravages the body and mind with its ever-shifting, inharmonious assaults, while the menacing vocals and haunting atmospherics produce a suffocating feeling of uneasiness. The universe that Imperial Triumphant drags you into is full of unimaginable horrors and carnage that not even the most prolific of horror novelists could conceive. If you are brave enough to step into their domain, you will come out mentally-scarred but pleasantly satisfied.
Label: Aural Music
Release Date: March 1, 2015
Favorite Tracks: “From Palaces of the Hive”, “Dead Heaven”, “Twins”, “Krokodil” and “Metropolis”
For Fans Of: Deathspell Omega, VI, Dodecahedron, Aosoth, Gorguts, Portal and Pyrrhon