Straight out of the Black Forest area of Germany we get this relatively new black metal outfit known as Imperium Dekadenz. Formed back in 2005 by the core duo of Horaz (vocals, guitar) and Vespasian (drums, guitars, bass, keys) their third full length album Procella Vadens has just been released by the French independent label Season of Mist.
If you're a fan of black metal and haven't had Imperium Dekadenz on your radar then you need to rectify that immediately because these guys bring a heaping dose of blistering, mid tempo black metal savagery to the table and infuse it with melancholic piano and acoustic sections, which makes for a very satisfying and varied listening experience overall.
The songs or the arrangements themselves aren't what I'd consider to be overly complex, but where this band's real strength lies is in their uncanny ability to build superior sounding melodies overtop ever shifting passages that drip with grim, cold atmospherics. For example the opening, distant sounding piano instrumental "Die Hoffnung stirbt..." is the perfect way to lure the listener in before the ensuing, violent layered assault of "Lacrimae Mundi" explodes out of the darkness and crashes along, before eventually burning out with a delicate acoustic guitar section to close things out. This light and shade method is also employed effectively on the following track, the absolutely epic "A Million Moons" which starts out as a heavy, raw mid paced number before it breaks down around the four minute mark with some nice melodic guitar playing and light accompanying keyboard washes; only to have it rise back into a violent fury once again.
While "Ego Universalis" is a fairly straight ahead bit of mayhem that relies once again on a hearty dose of heavy, layered guitars and plenty of vigorous tempo changes, it's more than enough to keep the listener fully engaged before the second half of the album kicks in; which is where things start to get even more interesting.
It all begins with an absolutely stellar composition entitled "À la nuit tombante" which translates roughly as "As The Night Falls". This track is like inhaling a giant breath of crisp, cold air that burns your expanding lungs; and you can easily picture yourself alone in a large and desolate expanse, surrounded only by the wonderful sound of acoustic guitars and airy keyboards. Talk about painting a picture in your imagination; this track succeeds at doing that big time. From there a brief melancholic piano passage takes us straight into another killer track "An Autumn Serenade" which clocks in at a whopping nine minutes! Much like "A Million Moons" this song features plenty of peaks and valleys as the buzz saw guitars feature prominently in the mix while the lighter acoustic playing is slightly pushed into the background.
Oh and what of the vocals on Procella Vadens? Well I have to say Horaz does a great job over this course of this album as the snarling, raspy sounding approach he employs is exactly what these songs require. Is it original? Hardly, but then it doesn't have to be. The fact is the style of his voice suits these black metal nuggets to a tee. On the topic of vocals, the most pleasantly surprising track on Procella Vadens is without a doubt "The Descent Into Hades", a composition that is completely unlike the rest of the album, and definitely not a metal track at all. Featuring an exotic percussion arrangement amid a plethora of lush keyboards, and a Middle Eastern sounding female vocal, this song just oozes charisma. It's also a brilliantly conceived mind fuck thrown in towards the end of the album designed to keep you on your toes.
The title track returns us to the black metal savagery that we've come to expect thus far in what has definitely been an interesting hour long ride full of intriguing twists and turns. The closing number "...wenn der Sturm beginnt" (When the storm begins) is thematically a continuation of the opening song in that it features just a forlorn piano melody with some wind sounds thrown in for added measure. All in all a perfect way to conclude what is a flawless album from start to finish.
Procella Vadens has everything I love in black metal, especially the emphasis on nature. This disc is a solid, well constructed black metal barnburner that features an abundance of raw, heavy guitar driven passages, and a thunderous rhythm section, coupled with just the right amount of acoustic and keyboard / piano driven interludes required to flesh out the sound and give it that added atmospheric boost.
Kudos goes out to Imperium Dekadenz for turning in this absolute gem of an album. If black metal is your thing, then this is an album that definitely needs to be added to your collection right away.
1) Die Hoffnung stirbt...
2) Lacrimae Mundi
3) A Million Moons
4) Ego Universalis
5) À la nuit tombante
6) An Autumn Serenade
7) Ocean, Mountain's Mirror
8) The Descent into Hades
9) Procella Vadens
10) ...wenn der Sturm beginnt