Ultimate Massacre Productions
7 May 2016
Review by Nathan Eden
You know that bit in a Hollywood fantasy epic where a forlorn female voice performs vaguely Middle Eastern-sounding vocal music above a foreboding single drum beat, the clashing of steel swords, and the deep-throated shouts of bearded demigods atop their blood-drenched steeds? Yeah, well that’s precisely where the minute-long intro to Titanomachy places us. Seconds later, it leads to all-out war, and that’s exactly where fans of Behemoth, Nile, et al, will be happy for the 43 minutes thereafter.
Not that Imperium’s second full-length sounds derivative beyond the acknowledged influences, it’s just that this is the level of intensity we’re dealing with here. While we’re wearing influences on our collective sleeve, there’s tinges of Deicide in it too, from the brutal-as-Benton vocal style to the prominence of the Legion-era bass. And you’ve gotta love a tech-death band unafraid to let the bass be heard; loud, liberated and proud, like a low end closet escapee.
With the above in mind, it’s worth mentioning that each instrument plays its own part, sitting just right in the mix, so as to squeeze every juicy drop of goodness we might hope for from music this technical. The guitars buzz in rapid-fire, grooving only when they need to, and squirt saucy solos at will, while the drumming is worth the price of admission alone. All the while, the vocals exist within a scope of pitch variance whose borders are bound only by the demands of cohesion.
Who are Imperium? Hailing from Bristol in the UK, the band’s line-up has changed quite dramatically in the few short years since their 2012 debut, Sacramentum. Guitarist Mike Alexander is the only returning character, this time joined by Unfathomable Ruination drummer, Doug Anderson, on vocals. Movements since the first album have rendered Imperium a duo, but I swear by the castrated testicles of Uranus that this does not result in their sound lacking balls.
Perhaps it’s the across-the-board wholesomeness of the product that makes it difficult to pick highlights from the album, or maybe it’s just that it’s so unwavering in force that I don’t want to sell any of the other tracks short. It could be that the theme the album’s title gives away stays true, playing out over ten years on the battlefields of Thessaly as it does over twelve tracks of skull-crushers in Titanomachy, the album. Whichever we place our fingers on, it’s tough to single out certain tracks from the others. But let’s do it anyway.
Following on from the forementioned intro, we must first mention Castrate the Father of the Sky, as much for the awesomeness of the title as for its announcement that this album is anything but half-hearted. Beasts From Beneath is a prime example of how Anderson is able to shift effectively and with ease, from deep growl to black metal rasp.
Broken up occasionally by drama-building war-mood music to remind us of the narrative, the ever-creative riffs and leads paint all around it, rarely becoming boring, and often becoming exhilarating. Aside from the brief interludes, Into Abode Of The Dead, the first 50 seconds of the title track, and the minute-or-so instrumental of Skies That Bear Thunder, Titanomachy is relentless throughout as it blast beats its way through other album highs such as the (almost) catchy choruses of Descend Abysmal Void and The Unseen One, and the sheer nastiness of Ingurgitate The Traitor and Minos.
If you held me to announcing a downside to the album it’s that perhaps you’d be doing extremely well to digest it all in one sitting; there’s so much happening and it’s heavy as balls.
If you’re a big fan of the extreme but haven’t heard Imperium, then you’ll want to sink your blade in to this sooner rather than later. Intensity and urgency are the words of the day with Titanomachy.