In the darkest recesses of the Earth’s oceans there potentially lurk creatures as yet unknown to humankind. One could imagine some seismic beast slowly creeping along the seabed some 20,000 feet below the nearest human, waiting to rise up and claim what was possibly once their own. Waiting to exact a measurable amount of Hellfire-like havoc upon an unsuspecting populace. If such a beast exists the soundtrack to its rebirth and eventual unleashing of catastrophic proportions could belong to New York’s Imperial Triumphant.
Equal parts black metal enthusiasts and experimental deviants, Imperial Triumphant do nothing ‘by the books’. On the contrary, they take the book that has already been written about American black metal, set it on fire, and spread the ashes across the polluted Hudson as it winds its way out to sea. Born out of the New York death metal scene, with members ranging from such acts as Malignancy and Pyrrhon, Imperial Triumphant are not now, nor have they ever been, beholden to some sort of fairy tale aesthetic regarding what counts as “true” or “kvlt.” Instead on their newest album, Abyssal Gods, Imperial Triumphant continue to pursue a truly unique take on the genre while stripping away any lasting attempts to match notes with some of those that have come before them. All too often black metal has sacrificed brutality for technical prowess, but Imperial Triumphant have joined a new batch of black metal heroes who do no such thing. The pursuit of eternal musical darkness is not always found in the most obvious of places and Imperial Triumphant are willing to take us behind the curtain to a place where experimentation is just as key as sheer heaviness to unlocking pure, unadulterated evil.
The best track on the album may in fact also be the longest, the sprawling, nightmare-inducing “Krokodil.” Beginning with somber, almost ecclesiastical chants, the song quickly disintegrates into a myriad of off-kilter riffs, manic drumming, and psychotic vocalizations. It’s the type of track that lives in an esoteric realm between the sacred and the profane, between the seen and the unseen, and one that truly showcases just how unorthodox Imperial Triumphant is willing to let their music become in order to fully execute their devious visions. What comes before and after this track is a bevvy of avant-garde musical savagery. Whether it’s the death metal influenced tracks such as “Dead Heaven” and “Twins” or the more arcane emanations of a track like “Black Psychedelia” this album is chock full of twists and turns that leave your head spinning in the best way. From lumbering sludge to the flip-of-a-switch blast beats in a moments notice on “Black Psychedelia” to the outlandish jazz piano opening of album closer “Metropolis” that eventually fades away into a freak show abyss of sounds, Imperial Triumphant are seemingly on a mission to not only breakdown the parameters of what we define as ‘black metal’ but are hellbent on destroying them completely. Thus far they are well on their way to doing just that.
Abyssal Gods is out now via Italian label, Aural Music. You can experience the album in full at the Aural Music Bandcamp page.