Not too long ago, I watched two people argue about black metal on Twitter. One person claimed the only true works of the genre were the records that came from the Norwegian second wave, while the other person posited that while those are great albums and bands, so much progress has been made since then. I agreed with her wholeheartedly. Things have refreshingly evolved.
I say that as German black metal duo Imperium Dekadenz delivered their sixth record “When We Are Forgotten,” an album that finds the band operating at their same base but branching out far more than ever before. I’ve been a huge fan of this band for a long time now and always reveled in their atmospheric black metal, but hearing what they display here on these 11 cuts (plus two bonus songs depending on what version you have), makes their art even more enthralling than before. Longtime creators Horaz (vocals, guitars, keys) and Vespasian (guitar, bass, drums, keys) expand their worldview, bringing in more melody and emotion, dripping in all kinds of musical influences, and making a more full-bodied expression that declares the limits are boundless for them.
“When We Are Forgotten” starts with guitars stinging, and then things ease in before erupting. Melodic playing and grisly growls combine, with things driving into a black metal atmosphere. The chorus is rousing but simple, deep bellows spill in later, and the track ends in rousing spirits. “Bis Ich Bin” has an ominous start, and then the track rips into you, devastating and sending a huge surge. The track sits while the power boils, as guitars swim through the madness, catapulting toward a rushing end. “My Solace I (Choirs of Solitude)” slowly awakens as the melodies untangle, and then the music ramps up. Speaking pushes over the top while the vocals wrench bones, with a chorus that pushes waves and the song beaming into the sky. “Trauma” is a quick interlude with spacey keys and scraping guitars that pushes into “A Cave Called Wisdom” where the riffs drive into rock. The guitars sweep, and the shrieks crush as Horaz yells, “The eye is opening up,” as the earth crashes over an abrupt end. “Transcendence” has an airy open before the music trickles, feeling a little more accessible than what we’ve come to expect from the band. The growls then destroy as the playing crescendos, swirling through chaos before rushing toward its finish.
“Séance” is another quick interlude that’s chilling and haunting, floating into “Abszenz Elysium” that gets things going aggressively. Melody and emotion combine and rumble, with creaking growls creating giant holes and then clean calling sweeping over. Things settle in a cloudy gaze before the hammers are dropped again, the assault continues, and then clean singing gives the song a serene finish. “My Solace II (Paths of Perception)” is picturesque at the start with Horaz calling, “Standing in the forest so cold,” before later wondering, “Will I ever find my solace?” The track crushes with the heaviness of sadness and loss, as Horaz continues to ask the same question repeatedly, as the song bleeds to its end. “Reverie” is a final interlude, built by echoes, plucked guitars, and weird dripping, going into finale (well, depending on which version you have) “Frozen in Time” that begins with a post-metal-style gushing. The verses are fairly approachable before the harshness returns over the chorus, with the pace picking up and later dropping, and the band delving deeply into highs and lows. Horaz repeatedly calls, “Frozen in time!” over and over. The music goes cold as whispers poke, and then the track catches fire again and brings the track to a devastating finish. If you’re opting for the digital version, you get two more tracks in instrumental “Behold the Flame of Time” that’s strange and cosmic, as well as “Owl of the Black Forest” that’s hypnotic and harsh and is worth going to digital route, because it’s really powerful.
Imperium Dekadenz’s refusal to give in to any one path makes the future limitless for them and infused even more ingenuity into “When We Are Forgotten.” This band has proved its strengths and flexibility, and that’s made for an adventure that’ll surprise but likely excite people who have been along for the long haul. ID have been one of black metal’s more intriguing bands all along, and now they figured out a way to make their work even more interesting.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/ImperiumDekadenz/
To buy the album (North America), go here: https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/store/?SID=1263bbb845ff2eb214c80f13cd19a3ac
Or here (Europe): https://napalmrecords.com/deutsch/imperiumdekadenz/
For more on the label, go here: https://www.napalmrecords.com/