Ten dark 19th Century tales
Imperial Vengeance embarks on a new journey with their second studio album. Their previous offerings were typical imperialistic abundance blended with WWII heroic memories. "Black Heart of Empire" is a lot darker; and promising 'Ten Dastardly Tales of Intrigue, Phantasm and Derring-do' (although the media copy of the album only contained nine tales...).
We are transported back to the dark cobbled streets of 19th century London with the first track narrated by David Courtney himself, setting an authentic theme. Whilst our souls are still in limbo back on the dark streets of London, the second track, and also title track, kicks off with a serious double pedalling base drums and vocal assault. C. Edward Alexander has the ability to provide classical, deep clean vocals and death metal growls at the same time and scares the shit out of you.
The epic journey back in time continues with the third tale 'Voice of Thelema', whilst 'The Ghost Light' opens with a string set that provides a tranquil setting with a haunting undercurrent, before C. Edward Alexander explodes into his growls from hell. Imperial Vengeance continues their experimental approach on music with an unusual and very risky vocal contribution from soprano Lori Lewis on the mid album tracks. Her vocals are absolutely stunning, but this could just be a step too far on what is predominantly a metal album. It does, however, contribute to the 19th Century scene, but may not necessary find that same acceptance with metal fans or even some Imperial Vengeance fans. The contrast with the brutal voice of Alexander may just be a bit too much. The same contrast occurs when the gentle piano in 'Out went the Candle' is followed by the double pedalling drums and fret burning guitars with 'Upon the Stair' straight after. Saying that, guest vocalist Bjørnar Erevik Nilsen, offers, what the band describes as "a new level of intangible weirdness", on 'Upon the Stair' which turned out to be my favourite track on the album. It has so many layers of eccentricity and intrigue, and brings, not only the entire theme of the album, but also the entire image of Imperial Vengeance, into context and clear understanding.
Imperial Vengeance has the ability to provide seriously scrumptious metal, but without taking themselves too seriously. The music is fast, deep and eerie whilst the vocals are filled with death metal growls and dark themes. The mood is fuelled by eccentric artists, aristocratic image, imperialistic influences and loads of Absinthe. The result is the second album from a very promising British metal band putting a welcome fresh twist on the music scene. Unfortunately you will always find that a number of people won't "get it", and will disregard this extremely talented and creative band.
"Black Heart of Empire" will be released on the 23rd of September, coinciding with the Autumnal Equinox.