Review: Imperial Triumphant “Spirit of Ecstasy” [Century Media Records]

Review: Imperial Triumphant “Spirit of Ecstasy” [Century Media Records]

- in Reviews

Let’s have one more trip through Imperial Triumphant’s mix of metal, jazz and weirdness. This new offering manages to be both different from their previous live album I reviewed, and pretty good on its own.

Imperial Triumphant is the kind of band that requires you to expect the unexpected, expect something weird, which could easily get repetitive… but not here. The first track, “Chump Change”, manages to mix together drum rolls followed by what sounds like a machine just starting, stop-start riffs, riffs with weird guitar effects, that easily recognizable cavernous growl, snarlier vocals and a strange echo at the end.

Do other tracks show the same sense of innovation and creativity? Oh yes. “Metrovertigo” (look how many of the song titles seem to reference old movies, cult and sci-fi) has one guitar repeating the main, sort of broken Meshuggah riff, while the other does little experiments with notes. There are also echoes and occasional back-up vocals chanting invocations.

For stuff more like Imperial Triumphant’s typical sound, there’s the instrumental “In the Pleasure of Their Company” (I have a few ideas of whose company), going around notes while keys and horns have their fun. There’s also “Merkurius Gilded”, which starts with violins before heavy riffs and a gloomy but loud mood, backed-up by wild horns and guitars, contrasted by echo-y singing and piano, are very similar to tracks from their previous album. Or “Tower of Glory, City of Shame”, with references to big, corrupted cities, radio excerpts, ethereal back-up vocals, screaming, chanting, quiet moments and heavy ones. But it’s not a copy of previous songs, it’s both very Imperial Triumphant and its own thing.

By contrast, “Death on a Highway” is faster and shorter, but sticks to the theme of corrupted cities, and also includes weird distortions, echoes and radio clips. As the title suggests, “Maximalist Scream” has a lot of screams, distorted vocals and a high, eerie echo on the guitars that make them sound like alarms. Sometimes the echoes sound more like something from an old movie. It’s a nice, loud ending for the album. The big experimental track on the album is “Bezumnaya”, which starts with eerie vocalizations, a radio broadcast in (probably) russian followed by the previous vocalist singing incantations, then some explosive riffs and drums, and distorted vocals. It’s a strange piece where you’re not sure what is going on, and feel odd after hearing it.

So this album was as strange and gripping as I expected from Imperial Triumphant. It’s faster and louder but not necessarily a complete change of style for them. And yet, it still feels creative and truly special, you hear it and you know you’re listening to something unique that will leave an impact on you. You don’t know what to expect with the style changes and the odd musical ideas. But most of all, this album has a sound of its own, a strange world of its own, a world that you’ll definitely want to visit. It’s like hearing a band playing Meshuggah or Voivod songs but wrong (and with horns), or like the band for a 1930s sci-fi movie got into death metal. If that’s the kind of sound you want to experiment right now, go for it.

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