Review Summary: An australian black metal album paying tribute to a Japanese literary icon
As a quick side note, for those unfamiliar, Yukio Mishima (who graces the cover of the album) was an award winning author of many books, plays, and other literary feats. On November 25th, 1970, Mishima and a group of his followers led a failed coup at Japan’s military headquarters. After seeing that his coup had failed, he committed seppuku.
Black metal is possibly one of the most common styles of metal in recent times. New albums are coming out with startling frequency from a myriad of bands. While this is a good thing, it also means that the market is quite saturated. Because of this influx of metal, many ideas are recycled and the same concepts are heard over and over. The themes of satanism, nature, and despair are often chosen as the main idea for an album to be centred around and this is one of the reasons why Kommodus is so interesting.
Rather than try to revamp these same ideas that have been used for over 25 years, Kommodus chooses to be utterly unique in writing about Japanese writer and nationalist Yukio Mishima . I usually skip over lyrical themes and subjects since it often seems to be irrelevant, but An Imperial Sun Rises
is a special case. Having been fascinated by Yukio Mishima ever since seeing Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, the semi-biographical movie based around his life, it’s safe to say I was more than a bit excited to see an album focused on this same person. Kommodus is evidently also a fan of the movie as samples from the movie and its soundtrack can be heard in various parts of the album. Furthering the depth of the subject matter, the lyrics to Acolyte Ignite appear to be heavily based off of Mishima’s 1956 novel, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. Going even further down the rabbit hole, a listener can discover that the lyrics to Resurrection Of The Ancient Might contains Mishima’s death poem. This unique subject matter for an album is a breath of fresh air for a genre where the lyrics are often full of cliches.
However, this album would not be nearly as interesting if the music backing the lyrics was not up to par. Luckily, the music on An Imperial Sun Rises
is exceptional. Reading the description of Kommodus as “raw black metal” according to Metal Archives is a bit misleading. Yes, the production is certainly low-fi, but the playing is different than most raw black metal acts around today. Whereas raw black metal often focuses on atmosphere and more mid-tempo playing, band leader and multi-instrumentalist “The Infernal Emperor - Lepidus Plague” focuses on frenetic aggression and energy. At times, the playing is more punk influenced rather than sounding like traditional lo-fi black black metal. There are even a few solos sprinkled throughout the album which is not often found on raw black metal releases.
Aiding in the fury of Lepidus Plague’s riffing are his vocals. Howling his adoration of Mishima, Lepidus Plague’s vocals add a much appreciated side dish to the main course riffing. The raw production keeps the lyrics indecipherable, which is a shame since they are quite intelligent and well written for a black metal album. Nevertheless, the howls are well done and suit the album well. Over in the percussion section of the album is session drummer Magnus T.R.J., who has been present on all previous Kommodus releases. Even though the drums sound better than on many underground black metal albums, the playing is nothing too spectacular. This playing style has noticeable roots in punk, reminiscent of Fenriz’s style on Darkthrone’s A Blaze In The Northern Sky
An Imperial Sun Rises
has a lot to love, but to be honest, I didn’t even like the album the first few times I tried to listen to it, regardless of my interest in Mishima. However, this album, like most great albums, grew on me. Black metal albums this unique are quite rare. There are few metal albums in general that deal with literature and film, but to have the album be quality too is even more rare. An Imperial Sun Rises
is not an album to pass up.