Abominamentvm: Imperial Triumphant Begin to Earn Their Name
Finally, New York gets a French black metal band to call its own. Not that Imperial Triumphant are actually French, but a listen to Abominamentvm shows a group immersed in the sour, scratchy anti-harmonics of Deathspell Omega or the might-as-well-be-French Dodecahedron.
They also have classic elitist black metal thing going on. There’s corpse paint, NSFW videos, a guy named Naargryl, and comically stiff, arrogant responses to interview questions, like,“Imperial Triumphant was forged in the year 2005 AD. I’ve assembled what I believe to be the most competent black metal musicians in New York.”
There is no questioning the musical competence on this album. There are prog jazz chops peaking out under the blast beats, mega-noodly, cryptopsical bass-lines countering the squall, and drum fills that might otherwise be described as “licks.”
The musicianship is nonetheless kept in check. The focus of this album, like anything that’s going to call itself black metal, is not technicality, but an expression of darkness and disgust so profound the distinction between the letters “u” and “v” melts in the soup of the black alphabet.
A key to the French style is a refusal to lead cycles of blast riffs into heroic triumph, instead corralling them into doubtful haunts on unsure footing. Both “Manifesto” and “Devs Est Machina” accomplish a version of this, but maybe owing to the warm, punchy production of Collin Marston (Krallice, etc.), they lack a little for rawness. The other mode for the album is lingering dirge, and Abominamentvm is bookended by a couple of these: “Hierophant” and “Bellvm.” On these, Imperial Triumphant are working on something that could be their own, a stomach sickened blackened-doom hybrid, where errant leads swirl off into the cold.
That’s pretty much it as far as actual songs go. This album is brief, just twenty-five minutes. In black metal, that puts it in EP territory, or for Agalloch, a single track. Still, there is a lot to unpack in these tracks, odd textures and sneaking layer that make up for the brevity. It’s also worth noting that this album is a stylistic about face from 2010’s Obeisance, which was a string heavy, Brvtal-Ren-Faire gross out. Abominamentvm is a vast improvement for Imperial Triumphant. Give them a chance to stretch out over a longer record, they might earn their name.