Imperial Triumphant - Vile Luxury

8 songs
56:04 minutes
***** ****


There is post black metal, then there is progressive black metal, and there is even avantgarde black metal. With Imperial Triumphant from New York City, the latter subgenre is really taken to a whole new level. By itself, the band is a three-piece consisting of Ilya on guitars and vocals, Kenny Grohowski on drums and Steve Blanco on bass guitar, piano, keyboards and also vocals. For their third longplayer Vile Luxury, the furthermore employed the services of a brass quintet and four guest vocalists.

The new albumís opener Swarming Opulence begins with a heavy and heady minute long brass part that offers a strange brew of modern classical music and dark jazz. Then the band joins in, and we get the most atonal black metal I have ever heard. This could either mean that the guys donít know how to play their instruments, or that they are superb musicians that have transcended typical metal performances. I go with the latter, and when the trio is joined again by the five guys on trumpets, trombones and tuba, their sounds like nothing I have ever heard before. The following Lower World is just as abrasive and flirts with operatic female vocal parts, although not in the cheesy kind of way so many symphonic metal bands do, but rather reminding the early experiments of Celtic Frost. Gotham Luxe is a sludgy monster with jazzy guitar parts and weird keyboard sounds, ending on a piano part that reminds of smoky New York underground jazz bars. Things get really dark with the gothic death rock track Chernobyl Blues whose first four minutes are very quiet and threatening, with deep and gnarly Russian vocals that fit the songís title. The last three minutes are a cathartic explosion that remind a little of middle era Kayo Dot at their most furious.

The second part of the album is just as strange. Cosmopolis once again starts out quietly with undistorted guitar and a jazzy trumpet solo, before skewed guitar riffs make the whole thing sound like Voivod on speed. Later the guitar plays jazz parts again, and the hectic piano performance feel inspired by Keith Tippett. Mother Machine is at four minutes the shortest track, and also the only instrumental piece featured on this album. Once again we get an unusual crossover between experimental avant metal and brass sounds. The Filth is at nearly ten minutes the longest track and is another surprise bag full of the most unexpected sounds. The album ends with Luxury In Death with a screaming vocalist. Imperial Triumphant go full no wave here, but in a metal way.

Vile Luxury has been recorded, mixed and mastered by Colin Marston who plays in such distinguished bands like Behold The Arctopus, Dysrhythmia, Gorguts, Krallice and many more. To say that he is a genius is an understatement. Marston has really managed to help Imperial Triumphant make Vile Luxury sound like a snapshot of New York City at its darkest and most desperate. This is not a pretty album, but the best art often has to hurt a little. If you can imagine liking extreme metal that dares to walk on untrodden paths, and are not afraid of a certain avantgarde artiness, then do check out this masterpiece of unparalleled excellence.

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