Review Summary: Ever triumphant.
For all of their ostentatious embellishments, Imperial Triumphant have always been described in the most reductive ways. They sound like Deathspell Omega.
Or, as this reviewer's boyfriend says, they're that band with the
Eyes Wide Shut masks
. To garner such comparisons, Imperial Triumphant have aligned themselves with the most grisly and opulent influences, attempting to capture a unique picture of the true horrors of modern society in a city filled with Tom Wolffe-style vapidity and greed.
To promote this nihilistic imagery, Imperial Triumphant play fiery blackened-death metal, a la Deathspell Omega. Per their new visual style, the package is wrapped in a bold black and gold art deco, feeling like an homage to the dark excess of their native New York. In an era where the "1%," vile corporations, and Wall Street are the ~real modern day villains~ (a very 'woke' but also accurate statement), Imperial Triumphant's gilded masks feel full of acerbic criticism while still paying homage to the horrors usually adorned by the genre. Their newest album, Vile Luxury
, as its name suggests, reflects the darker side of the gluttony and excess of living in a country built upon commercialization and materialization. This message is conveyed physically as well as through their music. Bold brass is consistently at odds with deeper, almost spiritual segments; a jagged sound signifying vying powers and cultures within American society. It's oppressive, mechanical, and deeply disturbing--a sentiment that is assuredly the point.
Whether or not Imperial Triumphant meant to convey such targeted messages remains to be seen, but the fact that such connections can be made from their literary ambitions speaks to the attempted complexity of their music and image. Now, in many ways, metal, and especially black metal, succeeds exceptionally when there’s a sense of self awareness to the pomp and circumstance. Imperial Triumphant understand themselves but the tongue is planted firmly out of cheek. It's portentous as can be, but you aren't rolling your eyes throughout the bombast because Imperial Triumphant make it so goddamn theatrical and alluring.
Grand ambitions aside, Imperial Triumphant have always succeeded with their familiar, albeit effective, style of blackened-death metal. Vile Luxury
in this respect does not disappoint. In many ways is trumps their powerhouse sophomore record, Abyssal Gods
by offering up the same amount of contained chaos but with a smarter use of restraint. After all, Vile Luxury
is a much weirder
album. It's much more atmospheric and, for lack of a better term, avant-garde. Gorguts-style death metal is front and center here which makes sense given their influence on the dissonant-metal niche. From all of this is a less messy record than its predecessor. There is less of a cacophonous and suffocating atmosphere with Imperial Triumphant giving their music room to breath. Segments of hollow and formless sounds stretch in between bouts of unrefined blackened chaos. For example, ertain areas of the album, most notably during "Cosmopolis," run wild with jazzy further only to collapse into a bleak void of death growls and dowtuned guitars.
is a metal record primed and ready for 2018. From this reviewer's descriptions, if it sounds hard pin down, that's because it is. It's a brazenly ambitious and outre take on a overdone niche area of metal; unique but comforting in its familiarity. Those attuned to Imperial Triumphant will find a lot to love with plenty of new ideas to digest as well.