When it comes to German black metal, IMPERIUM DEKADENZ have arguably become one of the premier acts since their formation in 2004, cementing their place not just at the forefront of the scene in their homeland, but also standing as one of the more impressive atmospheric black metal acts internationally as well. Each of their first six albums are celebrated works, with some even regarded as modern classics in their own right. Nonetheless, with this lofty reputation comes lofty expectations, and each album has become harder and harder to improve upon. The duo’s seventh full-length, Into Sorrow Evermore, certainly has all the hallmarks of the band’s sound, and showcases that even almost two decades deep into their careers they are still as impressive as ever.
Into Sorrow Evermore is a powerful opening statement, with the ethereal guitars and steady drum work creating a cavernous, hypnotic sound around which the hellish howls and slick melodic flourishes weave. It’s got the sort of grand, expansive feel that all the best atmospheric black metal possesses, with only the vocals and some of the more driven drum passages injecting any discord into proceedings, gently easing the listener into the album as opposed to going straight for the jugular. Truth Under Stars begins to see darker elements creep into the music, with the faster tempo and denser rhythms providing a more urgent edge to the music, whilst the vocals, in amongst the visceral snarls, utilise cleaner, spoken word passages to lend a dramatic air to this track alongside its soaring leads.
Aurora sees the introduction of incredibly haunting and effective keyboards which provide a sombre note to what is a more measured and less distorted affair. The more ponderous pace allows the keys, vocals and riffs to rise more prominently to the fore, complementing and accentuating the melancholic approach of the music extremely well. Where Aurora was bleak, Elysian Fields sounds almost sinister by contrast, with brooding guitar work and ominous vocal deliveries serving to throw an air of foreboding into the mix whilst not ever shedding the bombastic undercurrent that has informed each of the previous three tracks.
Forests In Gale, with its more lively guitar work, venom-soaked vocals and tight, powerful drumming, is a song that is very much driven by the lead guitars, which move away from the more spartan touches of the album’s first half to decidedly more energetic and adventurous moments. They shift from one monolithic melody to the next – a burst of musicality that elevates this track significantly and makes for a more engrossing listen. Awakened Beyond Dreams carries this style of guitars forward, but applies the same blend of aggression and grandiosity to the music that Elysian Fields did. Only the sonorous cleaner tones of the song’s bridge deviate from this effect, and with the vocals and belligerent rhythmic undertones taking on a similarly visceral emotive weight, it proves to be a much more muscular and intensely focused offering than many of the tracks that have come before it.
November Monument sees the dynamic the band have been working with throughout this record alter subtly, with the vocals taking on a slightly throatier and even bellicose quality, and the guitar tone changing to a sharper, more angular one, albeit not without the warmth that has characterised the preceding songs. The chunkier bass sound, percussive drumming and hazy keyboards also add to this small but palpable shift, adding a depth and booming counterpoint to the tighter sound of the guitars and vocals. Memories… A Raging River‘s more frenzied drumming, equally insistent guitars and biting vocals all contribute to a memorable and domineering sound, proving that this band are often at their best when they are at their most ferocious and animated. The cleaner section towards the song’s concluding motif is a change of pace that works well, bringing the album to a close on a sublime note.
Into Sorrow Evermore, much like the six albums that have come before it, is another exceptionally impressive and grandiose offering that showcases why this band are often regarded as one of the frontrunners within the atmospheric black metal scene internationally. It’s got all the classic elements that fans have come to expect from an IMPERIUM DEKADENZ record, and it’s very clear, especially from the musicianship on display here, that Vespasian and Horaz are far from running short of ideas. The main question, from a fan perspective at least, is whether this holds up when compared to stand-out records like Meadows Of Nostalgia or Dämmerung Der Szenarien? It certainly, at points at least, meets the lofty benchmark those albums set, and there’s a strong possibility that this album will end up being held in a similar regard with the passage of time.
Into Sorrow Evermore is set for release on January 20th via Napalm Records.
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