2015’s In Case You Missed: Abyssal Gods
Let’s celebrate the spookiest month of our calendar by looking back at one of the spookiest albums released this year, as fans and critics alike ready themselves in preparation of their poser-free year end lists.
Imperial Triumphant released their second full length album, Abyssal Gods, March 1st on Aural Music. Like You, Whom I Have Always Hated (featured in the last edition of In Case You Missed), Abyssal Gods received a large amount of coverage in and outside of the Toilet Ov Hell. It seems to have gotten even higher praise than The Body and Thou’s collaboration: high marks from Angry Metal Guy, No Clean Singing, Metal Bandcamp, and Black Metal & Brews. It even picked up a favorable review on The Boston Globe for Christ’s sake. On our site, our own W described it as an “unstoppable hellbeast of an album”, and I picked it as one of my five favorite albums released in the first quarter of this year. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find bad press about it.
The talent behind Abyssal Gods goes a long way in speaking for the album’s quality. Ilya (Zach) Goddessraper, vocalist and guitarist, founded the band in 2008, and Imperial Triumphant has been nearly his only endeavor. At the time of its release, the rhythm section included two members of Pyrrhon: Erik Malave on bass and Alex Cohen on drums, though Alex has since left Pyrrhon to focus on his other projects. The studio lineup is rounded out by a second drummer, Kenny Grohowski, of Secret Chiefs 3. The album was mixed and mastered by none other than Colin Marston. On its release, Abyssal Gods brought Imperial Triumphant comparisons to some of the most well known names in underground metal: the aforementioned Pyrrhon, Gorguts, Baring Teeth, Deathspell Omega, Thantifaxath, and Ævangelist.
From the thunderous opening of gravity blasts on “From Palaces of the Hive” , Abyssal Gods twists, lurches, and hammers its way through forty-one minutes of music over ten tracks. It’s a nasty slice of dissonant death metal, with an extra emphasis on weirdness and wonkiness in a subgenre that prides itself on those traits. Marston’s production leans murky; his expertise shows that each element of the band’s sound can be heard despite the thick atmosphere. During slow passages the riffs are likely to induce dizziness; I’m oddly reminded of DJ Screw’s catalog as well as Imperial Triumphant’s skronk contemporaries. Standout tracks on the album include: “Dead Heaven” and “Twins”, which are both wobbling, off-kilter mechanical marches, “Krokodil”, the album’s longest, darkest track and most resembling of the band’s black metal reputation, and “Black Psychedelia”, the album’s triumphant penultimate track which opens with as much groove as you’re likely to hear outside of Graveyard. The interludes add to the creepy and oppressive vibe on the album. Album closer “Metropolis” is a bizarre blend of piano playing, strings, and other odds and ends. At first I felt it was lackluster, but it grew on me, like the nightcap to a nightmare you can’t wake up from.
Even a fan of heavy music can have a hard time keeping up with everything released over a week, month, or year. The month of October has brought us a plethora of great releases; stuff I’ve been jamming constantly like Cult Leader, Yautja, So Hideous, and Kowloon Walled City, just to rattle off a a few of them. Of all of the albums I’ve listened to and loved this year, Abyssal Gods has been an album I have kept coming back to, and one that other albums have had a damn hard time replacing.