Imperium Dekadenz show signs of thaw, new life on great ‘Meadows of Nostalgia’

imperium band
It’s weird what music makes you think about sometimes. Actually, often times music makes me feel nothing anymore, which is sad, but when I find a band or an album that really clicks with me, the mental images that get created often surprise me.

For example, Germany’s Imperium Dekadenz often make me think of winter time, of huge snow storms blanketing the land, of no escape from the ice and chill coming any time soon, and of me just wanting to sit in the house, under a blanket, with a dark porter in my hand. Seeing as that I love winter and that sounds like the perfect day, the band’s music always gave me comfort and filled me with a sense of wonder over nature. They also have become a go-to band for me every time winter strikes and I need something to get me through the day.

imperium dekadenz coverSo it came as a surprise when the band’s new record “Meadows of Nostalgia” reached me, and the first things that came to my mind were not frosty winds and squalls. Instead, it felt like a thawing was taking place, that long frozen streams were trickling with life again, that forest floors were thick and spongy having absorbed a season’s worth of snow, and that signs of warmth were indicating gentler breezes were around the bend. Their cascading black metal remains as intact as ever before, mind you, and there’s as thunderous a feel as ever to the band’s work, but what it conjures in the mind and spirit was altogether different for me. And considering we’re on spring’s door, this record could not have come at a better time.

Imperium Dekadenz is, and always has been, a two-man operation with Horaz handling vocals, guitars, and keyboards, and Vespasian taking on drums, guitars, bass, and keys. Live, they are joined by other musicians to bring their rich, deep sound to life, but since their formation in 2004 and over the course of four records now (the last was 2010’s magnificent “Procella Vadens”), this pair has been responsible for everything. If you’re not familiar with the band and are into the woodsier, more atmospheric ends of the black metal world, do track down Imperium Dekadenz and their new record, because it’s another fine addition to their canon and one that hasn’t even peaked with me yet as far as me overindulging in these sounds. The band is emotional, expertly expressive, and wonderfully pulverizing when the need arises, and they remain one of the world’s most inexplicably under-the-radar, underrated bands. Let’s change that.

It’s an Imperium Dekadenz record, so we’re starting off with a mood-setting instrumental, the lush and serene “Durch das Tor,” and then it’s right into the head-rushing “Brigobannis,” a song with epic guitar work, adventurous passages, emotional yet tuneful screaming, and a flood of sound that is the trademark of any ID song. “Aue der Nostalgie” follows with harsher vocals and a more aggressive approach overall, and as the piece builds, it’s easy to imagine soaring to mountainous heights and preparing for a land battle to determine the fate of humankind. “Ave Danuvi” begins with an eerie, sinister feel, but that turns into woodsy spiritualism and clean, chant-like vocals that give the song some hazy shades and colors. Then “Memoria” slips in as an acoustic-based interlude.

“Aura Silvae” just explodes out of the gates, with grisly, menacing growls, and violent black metal mixed with atmospheric wonder, giving listeners the best of the harsh and textural. “Der Unweg”  is, musically, the most interesting song on here, with a neat melody line snaking underneath the base of the track, some imaginative, dreamscape guitar work over top, and a sense of majesty and solemnity, two things that don’t sound like they should go together but do. “Striga” is doomy and mournful, thorny at times, and filled with dark guitar work and an ambiance that could put a chill up your spine. Closer “Tranen des Bacchus” ups the ante even more from the violence felt earlier in the album, as the vocals are screechier and more direct, the guitar is dark and threatening, and the emotion poured into the music is thick, smoky, and perfect for leading you out into the night, away from these tales.

Imperium Dekadenz really should be more well-known than they are, as they have a streak now of putting out great records that can affect you deep inside. You don’t have to speak their native tongue to comprehend their art, and if you give yourself over to their music, the journey will be one that takes you through the forests and into the stars, watching the seasons go from deep freeze to new life.

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