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Imperial Triumphant: Spirit of Ecstasy

For the uninitiated, Imperial Triumphant are a 3 piece avant-garde extreme metal act that merge New York inspired jazz with black/death metal to create a relatively unique offering. Thematically the band go all out, with a golden art-deco aesthetic that is intended to represent the greed and excess of the metropolitan lifestyle in New York City. Spirit of Ecstasy is the bands 5th album overall, and builds off the momentum of 2018’s Vile Luxury and 2020’s Alphaville.

It’s worth alerting any new listeners to the fact that Imperial Triumphant’s music isn’t an easy listening experience (nor is it intended to be). It’s complex, layered, chaotic, and largely atonal, but there is an organised, deliberate form to what they do. This is no doubt a band of highly skilled musicians who are seeking to push extreme metal into new territories, clearly influenced by the musical freewill and the sort of artistic trail blazing championed by avant-garde Jazz musicians in the late 50’s and 60’s when they threw away the rule book for bebop and post bop and created a sound that blurred the lines between spontaneity and formal composition.

Spirit of Ecstacy album gets underway with "Chump Change" which is chaotic piece, anchored by the furious drumming of Kenny Grohowski. The slinky walking bass line from Steve Blanco and the off-kilter guitar lines from Zachary Ilya Ezrin create a dissonant, chaotic malaise which is topped off by the otherworldly vocal delivery. Colin Marston is a long time producer with the band and his influence is felt on the album generally, but specifically on tracks such as "Metrovertigo", which contain the sort of dissonant riffing that you might associate with late era Gorguts. The addition of Zachary Ilya Ezrin’s (now trademark) guitar style, that is identifiable by the heavy use of the guitar’s tremolo arm creates a particularly unhinged sound. There are some quieter moments in this piece but generally "Metrovertigo" is a heavy, juggernaut of a track. I’m led to believe most of the instruments on Imperial Triumphant’s albums are recorded live in the room together and without a click track, which sheds light on the sort of precision and chops that the band possess.

"Tower of Glory, City of Shame" commences with what sounds like an old movie soundtrack, but the twisted waltz-like riffing quickly takes over. "Merkurius Gilded" commences features a guest solo from none other than Kenny G, which is a bizarre yet fitting pairing on what is one of the strongest tracks on the album. "Death on a Highway", "In the Pleasure of Their Company", and "Bezumnaya" see the band stretch out, injecting further experimental elements to the now established Imperial Triumphant sound, with flashes of psychedelia, free jazz and cinematic elements applied in healthy doses. The album is seen through to its conclusion with "Maximalist Scream" which is perhaps my favourite of all of the tracks on the album and contains a surprisingly cohesive guest performance by Snake from Voivod. The neo-noir, David Lynch style video clip that accompanies the piece provides a unique visual accompaniment to the unhinged atmosphere.

Imperial Triumphants music is able to create an almost suffocating, claustrophobic atmosphere, which is arguably more intense than even the most overtly ‘brutal’ death metal. Despite the intensity in the music, their arrangements are able to dazzle and impress on par with the most virtuosic, shred laden tech death. Sonically, their music seems to portray the ‘vile luxury’ and depravity associated with the uber rich at the top end of town �" it’s a unique listening experience no doubt. Imperial Triumphant’s music is pushing the boundaries of extreme metal and forging a relatively new path. Subsequently Spirit of Ecstasy is my nomination for album of the year

Track Listing
1 Chump Change
2 Metrovertigo
3 Tower of Glory, City of Shame
4 Merkurius Gilded
5 Death on a Highway
6 In the Pleasure of Their Company
7 Bezumnaya
8 Maximalist Scream

Added: November 27th 2022
Reviewer: Chris Reid
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 581
Language: english

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