Review Summary: Remember that scene in Game of Thrones...
... where Vyseris gets his long-desired gold crown in the shape of liquid boiling gold melting his cranium until only a small mound of shiny ashes remain on the floor? Lovely scene. Imperial Triumphant, being the most opulent band from the most decadent city would offer you no less than the same kind of treatment: face melting metal, and that is exactly how Spirit of Ecstasy
, their fifth endeavor, has turned out.
The New Yorkers' latest album is an absolute bacchanal for the senses. You would think you're experiencing the epicurean pleasures of avant-garde death metal while your mind is instead corroding to the sound of a voracious riff perforating your mind with tales of debauchery and orgies for the sybarite. Spirit of Ecstasy
is no longer the work of a band, but of a collective of musicians and artists that work together as a hive mind, producing extravagant passages of industrial noir and musical gluttony only apt for the fearless.
Kenny Grohowski's voluptuous drumming opens the album with some impossible triplets, soon masked by the dissonant perversion of Zachary Ezrin's guitar chord progressions and Steve Blanco's acrobatic bass lines, and in just a few minutes, this gentle carnival just turns into a very elegant butchery. Colin Marston and Trey Spruance's sonic design for the album is terrific. A mix of brutality and nightmarish erotic that sounds like a pissed off John Zorn orchestrating the zombie version of a philharmonic orchestra. The transitions between the metal parts to the jazzy ones feel like color painting dissolving into clear water, and while the band plays extremes in tracks like the virtuous instrumental “In the Pleasure of Their Company” or the crushing punishment of “Bezumnaya”, most of Spirit of Ecstasy
relishes in perfect balance.
Spirit of Ecstasy
continues the path laid by Alphaville
and Vile Luxury
and expands on the band's ambitious schemes. The number of features on this record is ridiculous. From Bloody Panda's Yoshiko Ohara screaming her chest out to The Mantle's Max Gorelic shredding guitar solos like spikes cutting through bloody flesh. The star feature, and I lack the words for a proper introduction here, is actually that of his father: legendary sax master Kenny G, yes, you read that right. The man battles the nightmarish darkness of single "Merkurius Gilded" with a bewildering sax performance worthy of his name. In addition, the party is joined by metal luminaries like Testament's Alex Skolnick and Voivod's Denis Bélanger on songs like the album's spectacular closer "Maximalist Scream". On the other hand, songs like "Metrovertigo" and "Death on a Highway" are among the darkest and heaviest the golden mask triumvirate has ever produced, eccentrically technical and mercilessly sharp.
With this fifth release, Imperial Triumphant have perfected the infusion of their claustrophobic nature, marrying the most aggressive parts with the outlandish theatrical jazz that remains their foundation with surgical precision. Spirit of Ecstasy
will satiate your hunger for new material, stuffing your head with as many riffs, growls, rhythm patterns and undecipherable ambience magic tricks as my wife packing her entire wardrobe in her luggage for a two-day holiday in mid-August. Songs like "Tower of Glory, City of Shame" or the formerly cited "Merkurius Gilded" have quickly become Imperial Triumphant's favorites in my own book, a macabre soundtrack to the dystopian reality we are living these days and my preferred and most precious form of mental masochism in the dead of night. May this be our little secret though, my wife really need those holidays.