Wednesday 25 January 2023

Imperium Dekadenz - Into Sorrow Evermore (2023)

Country: Germany
Style: Atmospheric Black Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 20 Jan 2023
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I like this album, the seventh from Germany's Imperium Dekadenz, who play black metal from the Black Forest. I've had it on repeat for much of a day and a half and it hasn't got old yet. However, it refuses to stick, like charges on a corrupt politician who's still in favour with his party. I've come to the conclusion that this is dark mood music, very capably done but with little intention to do anything beyond setting the particular scene that the band wants this album to evoke.

For the most part, that's all it does. It's bleak, as black metal tends to be, but also somehow warm, as if this particular frozen forest happens to be our safe space. It's often fast, as black metal tends to be, but it's just as often slow, the guitars buzzing their wall of sound but the drums happy to be almost in slow motion. Even in the fastest sections, they seem to be dawdling, because the drummer is so comfortable that he could surely do this all day without taking a breath. It's bleak but it isn't at all threatening. Is friendly harsh a thing?

Initially it feels like atmospheric black metal, because that's exactly what it is, but it continues to be content with being atmospheric black metal. It doesn't do anything with the format that we've not heard before. Sure, it's done incredibly well, but it's never adventurous and it rarely wants to have us focus on any particular element. We do in the end, because we find we have to penetrate its secrets, but such moments are still rare.

Aurora is the track where that happens most obviously, because it features a delicate piano that continues under the wall of sound, leaving it more of a veil of sound. Beyond that undercurrent of piano, there's also a neat keyboard that mimics a violin. It's all seamless dynamic play, even if it's so effortless that it floats past us a few times before we realise what it's doing.

Elysian Fields finds both a solid riff and a clean narrative voice, but it bleeds away into the general mood of the album, which starts to feel more and more like a fifty-one minute slab of black metal than a set of eight individual tracks as we listen and re-listen. November Monument has a magical section that's all bass, whispers and a cacophony of cymbals. It's a fascinating section and we can't help but wonder what other magical moments there have been that we were too hypnotised by a mood to notice. Maybe that's why I kept on listening and listening.

At the end of the day, though, it remained elusive. It sounds great, don't get me wrong, but I can't give you a favourite track or a second favourite. I can't even give you a least favourite. Anything I'd bring up to elevate one over another would be followed by the realisation that everything else did the same thing and balance would be restored. My problem is trying to determine if that counts as a positive or a negative.

Part of me thinks that I've listened to the entire album about a dozen times and never had to skip anything, never wanted to skip anything and can happily keep on listening another couple of times through. That has to be a positive, right? However, part of me thinks that I really ought to be able to say something individual about something after those dozen listens and I can't, beyond the few minor points I've made thus far.

I guess that, if you want a warm black metal mood, this might be precisely what the doctor will be ordering for you today. If you don't, then this is a fifty minute placebo that won't do anything for you in the slightest but you may somehow want to take it again tomorrow.

What surprises me most, given this curious avoidance of individuality, is that Into Sorrow Evermore is the seventh album from a long established band with a consistent line-up—it's been Vespasian and Horaz divvying up instruments since their founding in 2004, except for when they bulk up to a five piece for live shows—and what appears to be a dedicated fanbase. They must be reaching the parts that other black metal bands aren't reaching but perhaps I don't have.

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