Imperial Triumphant
Alphaville


4.5
superb

Review

by Henry Coleman USER (6 Reviews)
August 2nd, 2020 | 22 replies


Release Date: 07/01/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Alphaville is a lavish tour of our own future, detailing the most decadent opulence and juxtaposing against the vile poverty that it wishes to ignore.

Andrew Hill’s “Flight 19” plays, upbeat but soft over the speakers. It blends quaintly with the patter of rain. You’re sat up late again at the bar, staring into the last brown drops of the third empty glass. Or fourth? Fifth? The bartender does pretty good about cleaning up your mess, so you don’t know for sure... You really don’t know how it got like this. Or at least that’s what you tell yourself. The confrontation of what’s truly ailing you might leave you something less than whole. A few leftward murmurs in the smoky dim snap you out of the haze.

Two girls further down, one tugging down her skirt as she smiles coyly at the bartender. Her friend, swathed in cheap furs, guffaws at a joke he makes. They’d never touch you. You don’t recall the last human warmth you felt. A neon glow obfuscates the wet windows of the dive, wrought by the cold, gilded skyline stretching into the heavens and the occasional passing hover car. All of it could never glow hot enough for you to feel.

Your lips purse when you glare at your wrist, fit with this stupid “AlphaBit” that you’ve been financing for months. You flip up the holographic menu and order another bourbon. Neat. How did you ever screw up this badly? You came to this city to be successful. Here you are, proving every paranoid thought that sneaked its way out to be gospel. Just a burn out, paying out the ass for scraps. Your mother told you it was a risk. Your father laughed in your face. The handsome bartender slides you your swill and it’s all thrown back. The glass touches that well worn bar the way it came. Neat. You’re drowning. Your ears perk as the door to the street opens and closes.

Your brow feels too heavy, so you keep your cloudy eye in the glass as boot steps jack closer. Strangely, the person goes unacknowledged. All the empty space in the bar and this asshole sits right next you. In your periphery, you can make out that he’s wearing a trench coat, a golden mask, and a bolero. “That’s bizarre,” you think. “This Ronald McDonald, clown-face-ass dude.” Just another weirdo in Alphaville. Like you. The mask slams over your preoccupied hand, marrying glass and bloody flesh with a caustic crash.

“You really are pathetic,” he laughs. “Look.”

With all the liquid courage in your gut you snap up to attack. With pupils now the size of dimes, you see that he...it has no face. The background is frozen. The bolero floats neatly atop a head shaped black hole. You stare in horror but cannot look away. Deep in the vantablack, you see your greatest fears laid bare. Your life crumbles. The elite will never want you in their house. You are always and forever poor. Your labor sums up to nothing and the promise that it could ever do more is an abject lie.

Your head hits the bar, clean as the glass. The song plays on.

“Reach high for the gold

That is just out of reach

No worries. The future is bright.”

--

A new Atomic Age of blackened death is upon us. With a broad and sweeping masterstroke, Imperial Triumphant build a door to another world. They then restrain you and make you watch it burn in it’s own fat, those sinews popping audibly in flame.

The band re-concocts their eclectic blend of metal like only they can, having truly perfected their grim alchemy with the newest outing. The aural mind*** of an opener, “Rotted Futures” manages to be indicative of what you’ll get from the entire record while leaving later shocks entirely unspoiled. Nearly two minutes of build up occurs. First with low synths that segue into desolate saxophone howls, eventually building louder into a wall of noise and sporadic cymbal crashes. You are then shown their character. Zachary Ilya Ezrin’s mind erasing guitarwork licks and slashes at the psyche, comprised of many unusual shapes and artful manipulation of his tremolo bar. Noodling rarely occurs here and when it does, it's pointed. This is bolstered by drummer Kenny Grohowski’s chaotic, jagged, jazz derived, and high concept assault. He is nothing if not a complete drummer, able to shift from very authentic fusion chops and solos into the tightest of blast beats like nothing. Steve Blanco’s bass is a mammoth phantom, slinking and weaving throughout the compositions and demoralizing you with each form it takes. It may dazzle you with how artfully it can harmonize with the guitar in one moment, and bury you in fuzz in the very next. Imperial Triumphant wash you in waves of sickness, petitioning with choked barks and demon shrieks as you drown. Somehow, they never forget their sense of swagger along the way.

To paint it clearly, they craft something equal parts abrasive, beautiful, cerebral, surreal and genuinely terrifying. Imperial Triumphant are far from a band just content to brutalize you with their drums and guitars and call it a day. In this retro futuristic hellscape, they freely incorporate diegetic sound and unusual instruments to the benefit of the story they wish to tell. Congas. Synths. Horns. Subways. Organs. Pianos. Drones. Choirs. Barber shop quartet style samples. All cocooned in waves of static and noise. These compositions stretch the listener across space time in both directions at once, the far future and the distant past. Look no further than the excellent track “Transmission to Mercury” to see the sound artistry at work. The additional trombone threatens to steal the show, first sweetly flirting with the piano in the intro and later melded perfectly into the assault of blasts and sour chord walls.

The trio manages to bring to life all of the anxieties and ennuis surrounding the future of technology in the industrial age. It’s a 60’s cyberpunk dystopia made sentient. No song exemplifies this aesthetic quite like “Atomic Age”. In the verses it lumbers like a beast sauntering after you through an alleyway, somehow equal parts drunken and metallic. Solicitatious and dangerous. Suddenly, a poor busker steals your attention as he practices rudiments on scrap metal. The threat of danger never leaves. You’re stricken with a wall of cacophony from behind, spearheaded by an unfamiliar female voice. As sure as you think the song and your life may end, you’re swept into the most beautiful paranoid fever dream. Seraphic synths and vocals pull you higher as strung out blasts shift tempo and meter beneath. The skyline is building, along with the ambition of the rich. Seeds of unrest in the lower class are visible, but the elite build on over top. However, as the song slams into the final groove, you feel the opulent towers collapse under the weight of their own greed.

Alphaville is a lavish tour of our own future, detailing the most decadent opulence and juxtaposing against the vile poverty that it wishes to ignore. It's indicative of more than musicians perfecting their craft. It's a group of artists perfecting a concept. Furthermore, this is a tome rife with lessons. Feed hungrily upon its musical bounty but never shirk its message. If you do, you may be doomed to see it become your reality.




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user ratings (63)
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
MillionDead
August 2nd 2020


1346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I fell in complete love with this yesterday. Listened to it three times. I thought it only right to give such an avant garde work a bit of an avant garde review, hence the intro. This might suck. I just wrote it while utterly sleep deprived. But it was fun.

botb
August 2nd 2020


13932 Comments


i've never listened to this band would i like it

Demon of the Fall
August 2nd 2020


16546 Comments


This may yet prove reactionary, but my own (admittedly limited) experience with this is ready to accept the lavish (and possibly hyperbolic) praise present here. Either way this is pretty well written for something you just threw up in a hurry.

P.S. There is a minor formatting issue in the 7th(?!) paragraph by the way, looks like you just hit enter by mistake.

Digging: Imperial Triumphant - Alphaville

Veldin
August 2nd 2020


3953 Comments


Such an awesome album! Teetering between an 8 and 9

Demon of the Fall
August 2nd 2020


16546 Comments


8-9/5 sounds about right yeah.

I’m just hoping the novelty won’t wear off, I don’t THINK it will, but sometimes you hear a record so refreshing that the shock value catapults it into higher plains. Having given Vile Luxury a lot of time previously I doubt that’ll be the case though, this is probably better.

Deez
August 2nd 2020


6519 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Absolutely blown away by this record and ive been a fan of IT for a LONG time. Ive always been excited for their next release but this is their best by a mile. No one sounds like them. Those noir parts, the parts that suddenly make you feel your sat in a smoky jazz club after the previous 2 minutes of utter chaos. Theyre so unique. Ive seen them live a few times live and they are phenomenal live too. Kenny especially (he does do stuff with Zorn). The mix is much clearer too on this record the bass and guitar dont get lost as much when its kicking off. The bass especially is stellar. Its quite a journey from the beginning to the end and those 2 covers.

Great review man.

Digging: Imperial Triumphant - Alphaville

Eakflanderyof
August 2nd 2020


2829 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm chad from alphaville

IronGiant
August 2nd 2020


1719 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is gonna hold me over until that new Gorguts gets released

Space Jester
August 2nd 2020


8828 Comments


Damn I haven’t listened to these guys since Abyssal Gods

Demon of the Fall
August 2nd 2020


16546 Comments


That Gorguts comment under-estimates this (even though that might not have been the intention). This is only loosely connected and should be appreciated on its own terms, personally I couldn’t get the same satisfaction from Gorguts... great band but they scratch different itches.

DSO is closer, but again, nah. Everyone just compares any avant-leaning disso-death/black band to the same select few from their contemporaries.

MillionDead
August 2nd 2020


1346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah I couldn’t even justify a DsO, Gorguts, or whatever adjacent recommendation in the review. This album is definitely in its own lane. Definitely better than Vile Luxury too and I love that record.

Deez
August 2nd 2020


6519 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

DSO are the go to as you say demon that every kinda 'dissonant' techy black metal gets labelled as sounding like when they dont at all BUT there are There is actually a couple of DSO moments on here. But as aw hole of course they dont sound like either of those bands.





Deez
August 2nd 2020


6519 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

'Definitely better than Vile Luxury too and I love that record.'



Agreed and I do also

TheNotrap
Contributing Reviewer
August 2nd 2020


14557 Comments


I'm still digesting, but I really dig the opener.

Digging: Katalepsy - Terra Mortuus Est

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
August 3rd 2020


20531 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

first half of the rev is my kind of shit and it fits the album, good stuff brother, heavy pos.



What a hammer to the head this record.

Digging: Alanis Morissette - Such Pretty Forks in the Road

MillionDead
August 3rd 2020


1346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

A whole mallet to the skull. Really appreciate the praise too guys. Means a ton.

Demon of the Fall
August 3rd 2020


16546 Comments


That bit 2 minutes from the end of Greater Good is insane, builds up into an explosive frenzy only to extinguish it completely with those haunting noir influences - yet the transition works. How is that even possible?

MementoMori
August 3rd 2020


876 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sickeningly amazing record, as expected.

bludngorevidal
August 3rd 2020


57 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This record is disgusting. After half a dozen spins it's in my top five of the year so far, may grow more as well

brainmelter
August 3rd 2020


7101 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Transmission to Mercury is exactly what I had in mind when imagining what a new album from these guys would sound like

Digging: The Angels of Light & Akron/Family - Akron/Family & Angels of Light



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