IMPERIUM INFERNALIS - Imago Dei (SCHATTENKULT Produktionen CD 2017)
Schattenkult Produktionen is one of those small record labels, which introduces little known bands to the underground and I have to say that quite many of their releases turn into pure black gold. This Greek legion called Imperium Infernalis is one such great discovery and their second full length “Imago Dei” definitely belongs to the best releases from Schattenkult so far. I have to say that I’ve been spinning this CD many, many times during past week and the music impressed me a lot. Such a great surprise, especially if you don’t have any expectations from a band, which you’ve never heard about before. But believe me or not, “Imago Dei” can be one of the strongest black metal releases of the beginning of 2017. Well, for me it already is.
This is actually second Imperium Infernalis album, but I have no idea what “Choking on the Stench of Mankind” from 2013 was like (definitely though I’m putting this debut CD on my wantlist now). The band is from Greece, but personally I cannot find anything they would have in common with traditional, classic Greek black metal sound. Or if there’s anything, then it’s in small doses, so do not expect Imperium Infernalis to sound even close to Rotting Christ, Necromantia or Varathron. Actually, instead of sounding old, “Imago Dei” sounds interestingly modern, when speaking of their black metal style. There’re quite a lot of progressive sounding parts, sometimes it all has almost sort of dissonant style of riffage, other time it’s getting this hypnotizing feeling, when speaking of long instrumental passages… and it’s all perfectly combined with harsh and aggressive sounding black metal that can be influenced by Mayhem, Deathspell Omega, Keep of Kalessin (from “Angst” album), even Dodheimsgard’s “Satanic Art” (but without sounding weird) or a lot of these newer black metal bands like Acrimonious and more. They make smooth transitions between these different styles, with a lot of interesting arrangements, ideas, great tempo variations…
Definitely “Imago Dei” sounds like a smart, very well thought through album, which was not rushed during composing. Every detail had to be polished and in the right place. And damn, they did excellent job. There’s so much going on here, every song bursts with great energy and ferociousness and has great dynamics. All tracks have something new and fresh to offer, sometimes the band even had guts to put a smashing dose of blasting and utterly vicious black metal next to something what can be described as calm, almost post black metal sounding parts. I’m sorry if I’m using this post BM tag, but I do so for lack of better description. But believe me, “Imago Dei” is still a pure black metal album, only it seeks for something fresh and exciting rather than overused and boring. Even those longer songs like “The Horror of Recursive Realities” and “The Obsidian Kosmos” have no trace of dullness and no need for repetition, each being a great journey into something eerie and unknown.
It’s very good technically, with great performance from every band member and more so, I am very impressed with Charon’s vocals, he did great job on every song, coming up with as diverse performance as the music itself. And finally the production of “Imago Dei” is strong and powerful, so there’s basically nothing what I would personally want to be different. From start to finish this Imperium Infernalis album sounds truly impressive and I dare to say that there won’t be many better black metal records this year. Absolute recommendation.
Standout tracks: “The Obsidian Kosmos”, “Embrace the Savior”,
Final rate: 85/100