Imperial Triumphant - Abyssal Gods 01New York City is the new home of French black metal. No, I’m not entirely fucking with you. Hear me out… back in 2013, Madam X reviewed GoliathImperial Triumphant‘s two-song EP, and it impressed quite a number of us here at the offices of Angry Metal Guy. The mix of savvy technical death metal and viscous, oozy black metal was well-played and well-produced, creating a rather unsettling, but incredibly awesome, listening experience. All of that is a moot point, for as promising as Goliath was, nobody was prepared for the ingenuity, the murkiness, and the sheer WTF Factor that their sophomore full-length, Abyssal Gods, would bestow onto our jaded ears.

Wasting absolutely zero time, “From Palaces of the Hive” stampedes and blasts with the fervor of Deathspell Omega meeting up with Today is the Day for a nice stroll through the murky depths of Hell. Ripe with atonality provided by vocalist Ilya “Goddessraper” Ezrin’s guitar acrobatics, as well as bludgeoning drumming by Alex Cohen (Pyrrhon). And then, two mintues later… silence and atmosphere, horns, twangy Gorguts-esque melodies and thick Voivodian bass by Erik Malave, before it all stomps, lurches, and pukes its way out the door, leaving ichor and entrails in its wake. It’s chaotic, ugly, eerie, uncomfortable, and I loved every second of it.

“Unsettling” is easily the secret password of the day, as very rarely do you hear a passage and think to yourself, “Hey, that made sense!” And yet, when you hear these moments, they’re so jaw-droppingly bizarre and awesome that you go back to hear them again and again. Thankfully, Abyssal Gods is full of these moments. “Dead Heaven” (“Dead,” not “Deaf”) evokes more Gorguts lunacy and even a bit of a Domination-era Morbid Angel crawl before going full-on blackened tech-death. “Krokodil” sees Cohen sharing drumming duties with Kenny Grohowski (ex-HungSecret Chiefs 3) on the album’s longest (over eight mintes) track, with Ezrin’s guitars bending and warping, putting you in a state of complete unrest and discomfort with RK Halvørson and Yoshiko Ohara (Bloody Panda) singing and moaning over the blasts and chaos. But the award for “Did That Just Really Happen?” goes to standout track “Opposing Holiness,” for its expert use of a two-second happy, almost Cajun ragtime breakdown at the :51 mark, complete with unholy ukulele! Yes, Imperial Triumphant took a page out of Rob Scallon’s book and incorporated ukulele into black metal, and quite successfully, I may add!

Imperial Triumphant - Abyssal Gods 02

Proving once again that something unbroken doesn’t require further tinkering, Colin Marston (KralliceGorgutsBehold… The Arctopus) once again helmed the production at Menegroth the Thousand Caves, and did a damn fine job of making sure the chaos was overwhelming, but not at the cost of the instruments suffering. The bass is good and thick, guitars cut and slice, and the drums pummel with reckless abandon. The artwork by Andrew Tremblay is also stellar. Really, I’m having a hell of a time trying to find a flaw with this album, as even the interludes are quite tastefully done, though the album could be a little more dynamic. Still, it’s been a damn long time since a record made me feel happily uncomfortable, pleasantly scared, and absolutely enamored by its insanity and performance.

So I’m not joking around when I say that Imperial Triumphant put out the best French black metal album of recent history. For as good as Goliath was (and it still is incredible, don’t get me wrong), it just looks dwarfed and downright adorable compared to the sheer lunacy and onslaught that Abyssal Gods delivered. The bar has been elevated. Folks, meet your new masters.

Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Code666 Records
Release Dates: EU: 2015.03.16 | NA: 03.10.2015

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  • Thatguy

    This is the goods!

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention

    And a kind of sphere

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Yowzers, streaming it now. Those horns you mentioned in From Palaces of the Hive are epic when they kick in; something like 2001: A Space Odyssey meets Mahler. I’m also getting an Artificial Brain vibe here, especially in terms of the dissonance.

    Finally something that will make me stop listening to Visigoth for a while. Thanks Grymm.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Review + this comment…this just moved onto the must have list!

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Hey Grymm, the album’s already been released in NA (February 20, 2015, according to iTunes where I just bought it). Or is March 10th for the physical versions?

    • Grymm

      March 10 was what Amazon kicked back for the physical copy here in North America.

  • andrew macdonald

    So excited to see this reviewed. Their album (Abominamentvm) was the best black metal album of 2012 and woefully overlooked by many. They took the chaotic style of Deathspell Omega and brought to the sound a catchy melodic edge. Plus the whole 8 tracks only ran for 25 minutes a refreshing change where most bands only manage one tune with way less ideas in a similar time period. Initial listens suggest Abyssal Gods is a more challenging listen but well worth the effort. So glad you’ve helped spread the word about Black Metal’s best kept secret.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Finally got around to listening to Abominamentvm, which I sadly missed. I share your enthusiasm for this earlier release; in fact, I think I prefer it to Abyssal Gods. I loved the 2012 release on first listen, but this latest is proving a hard nut to crack for me.

      • andrew macdonald

        I agree. Abyssal Gods is great but Abominamentvm is the masterpiece. 40 minutes of no filler, atonal genius.

  • BarryLeFreak

    Oh wow I think this is 2015’s first 4.5 D:

  • brutal_sushi

    Holy shit!

  • That ukulele break in “Opposing Holiness”, holy SHIT! This band makes me very happy.

    • Grymm


      I must have played that part over and over for a solid half hour!

  • Wilhelm

    High-tech BM isn’t my style, so I can’t say I’m too impressed…they nailed the production though and have talent, very well done.

  • I have to pick Black Psychedelia as my fav track. It’s probably the most conventional but they still managed to freak it up just the enough amount to remind you this is no really conventional affair.

  • Kronos

    Oh my Satan, finally 2015 produces something of worth.

    • Angel R. Suarez

      Yeah, it has been a drunken stumble through dark alleys so far this year.

  • I am stoked for this one.

  • John Mosley

    Best new thing I have heard thus far this year. Amazing production value. Adding it to my “For Madmen only” music folder.

  • Tentacles

    Wow. Just listening to Goliath now on Bandcamp.

    This is fucking awesome.

    I get the Deathspell Omega reference but although I am no Black Metal aficionado (or any kind of metal for that matter) I gotta say I like this much better. Bought too many records already this month, but there’s always room for a few more…

  • Doomdeathrosh

    This is one HELL of an album! I remember listening to Goliath and going “I wish this was a full-length”……now I get a full length Goliath and some…..awesome stuff! And great review!

    • Doomdeathrosh

      and I believe through that picture of theirs, they want us to believe we’re drunk?!

      • Grymm

        Did it work? ;)

        • Doomdeathrosh

          Here’s a hint: it works best when you are! :)

  • Jeff Kent

    I quite like this.


    “Deathspell Omega meeting up with Today is the Day”


  • BarryLeFreak

    Dear lord, after actually listening to this record several times I can say this album scares me like no other band has. Definite chills up me spine for the title track m/

  • Angel R. Suarez

    The fact these guys are touring right now with Thantifaxath proves there’s a loving Satan out there.

  • Óðhinn

    Great review Grymm. One of the best releases of 2015 so far in my opinion.

  • Angel R. Suarez

    When does this album stop kicking ass? I think I’ve spun it 50 times and it just continues to slaughter.

    And rape.

    And pillage.

    My soul.

  • Hideous destructor

    I really wanted to love this and while it is good, I just don’t get the same sort of feeling as I do with deathspell omega.