This review was originally published on Rock n Reel Reviews.
When I was given the promo of Titanomachy to listen to in mid-2016, I had to plead ignorance as it was to be my first listen to Bristol-based band Imperium. However, when I read the flyer with the promo stating of the Nile, Behemoth and Hate Eternal influences, I was particularly looking forward to the listen. The artwork of the album courtesy of Remedy Art Design based in Greece is absolutely stunning and one of the best album covers I have seen in recent years.
Although Titanomachy was released mid 2016 and with 2016 being a particularly strong year for death/brutal death metal, I felt it was more than worthwhile for Moshville Times readers to experience these Nile worshipping gods, as Titanomachy made it into my top five albums of last year.
Imperium started in 2011 with members of Trigger the Bloodshed and The Bridal Procession and was soon a three-piece with Mike Alexander and co releasing a debut album called Sacramentum to high acclaim. Unfortunately, as happens with a lot of unsigned bands, members moved on to pastures new and it only left guitarist Mike Alexander to keep the flame burning. And burn it did with the addition of Unfathomable Ruination drummer Doug Anderson taking over vocal duties – this record was not going to be for the weak.
A quiet intro starts things off, with a dark ambient piece resorting to female tribal singing as if leading an army to war, and what a war it is with opening track “Castrate the Father of the Sky” (brilliant title!) spitting forth through this death deck. It starts off nice and slow for around 40 seconds and then, guess what, intense riffage, thunderstorm blasting and quick fire double bass reminiscent of Nile and maybe even Behemoth. The sound is good and the way that death metal should sound.
It’s like the old Morrisound studio sound and this was a major plus, especially with the double bass being a prominent feature in the mix. There just seems to be layer upon layer of creativity here for the listener. I thought this song was a dual vocalist performance with the deep growls and the blacker metal screams. A huge shout out must go here to the sole vocalist Doug Anderson, showing off the variety, technique and power in his voice that he has and it fits the song and album throughout. Is there no end to this man’s talents? A very solid song to kick off this album.
“Beast from Beneath” kicks off next and it’s more of the relentless speed and blasting, with death growls and blacker metal rasps. This song is relentless in speed and the drummer must have four arms and four legs drumming at this speed. The riffs of Mike Alexander are grinding at the same speed, with his plectrum on fire; he releases the riffs of beneath, without pausing for a breath. I feel that this song is much stronger than the opening track, with the highlights being the solos. Mike just lifts the solos above everything else, lets the solo and the song breathe, before being dragged back beneath by the aforementioned beast.
“Descend Abysmal Void” tends to the tried and tested death metal territory, tipping its hats to their predecessors and godfathers. Mike Alexander’s riffs are highly imaginative and he is clearly an exceptional guitarist. Again a brilliant guitar solo, played at the same speed as the rest of the song but making sense if you know what I mean… it’s not just noise, there is a lot of craftsmanship going on here. “Ingurgitate the Traitor” is next, with a nice light intro, before the barrage of guitars and drums come in again and flatten the intro dead. Towards the end of the song, Doug’s vocals got to their lowest point and were very reminiscent of one Chris Barnes’ numbers back in the old Cannibal Corpse days.
After a brief instrumental track, “The Unseen One” bellows forth with an almost dual vocal performance from Doug, with his screams and growls mixing it up nicely. It got me looking at the promo to see if there was a dual vocal, but the speed of the changes just show how talented Doug Anderson is as a vocalist. Add to that, the almost pig like squeals within the song add to his repertoire. “Phlegethon Rising” is next and it compares to the rest of the album favourably and again it’s the guitar solo that stands out with the intense riffs and with the same structure as the rest of the album. Another kick in the teeth track.
But it’s the track “Minos” that stands out with the intricate riffs, full on blasting drums and deep growls from Doug. However, this sounds like any other song on the album but I feel that “Minos” is where Imperium gets the balance right and has everything for the hardened death metal fan to appreciate. The intricate riffs, the 100mph riffs, the devastating solos again and then the riff at the end of the song being the first, therefore bringing everything to the ultimate climax. At half way during the song, I thought I was listening to the recent Aborted, which is also a plus in my book. “Neither Like Gods or Men” and title track “Titanomachy” are the last songs of this relentless album, with the title track ending in a barrage of intricate solos and screams and disappearing beneath until you feel like unleashing this beast again.
To summarise, Imperium have released an album that is blistering from beginning to end and it is a tall order to listen to the 12 tracks in one go. However, the musicianship on show here is breathtaking at times and Ultimate Massacre Productions may have found their diamond here. That being said, if it’s originality that you’re looking for then you have come to the wrong place with Imperium.
If you want your music played with heart, passion, the undying affection and acknowledgement of the godfathers of the scene then support the people who live and breathe and bleed for their music, then Imperium are for you.