Blood Red Throne – Imperial Congregation [Things You Might Have Missed 2021]

If you’ve ever trusted me, trust me now. Punch yourself in the face. Punch yourself in the fucking face! Do it! Do it, goddamn you!1 Good, now you’re ready for Blood Red Throne’s 2021 release, Imperial Congregation. Since the band’s earlier years (some fifteen-twenty years now), a BRT album hasn’t been this pleasing. While I’ll always and forever love an album like Altered Genesis, it’s BRT’s dedication to finding a sustainable middle ground between the BRT of old and the BRT of new while ensuring you’ll need cortisone shots with each new release. Imperial Congregation is a concussive death metal from beginning to end. Each song is a grenade tossed inside a concrete bunker—each explosion ringing louder as the walls and ceiling crumble in.

But, as any Blood Red Throne fan knows, Imperial Congregation isn’t all three-to-four-minute death metal numbers that hit you and fade. There’s a uniqueness to each song, and the resulting explosion proves that each grenade has a slightly different release time and concussion. For its relative, neck-breaking simplicity, “Itika” displays some interesting, piercing guitar work that reminds me of Galder’s clever leads on Old Man’s Child’s Slaves to the World. “Transparent Existence” is more mid-paced but just as worthy of spinal breakage. The standard groove is mightily effective, but it’s the transitions and killer soloing that promote the song from run-of-the-mill to memorable. Even vocally, Imperial Congregation comes with some surprises. While Bolt’s death metal vocals are standard fare and seemingly one-dimensional, the blackened shrieks and Obituary-like performance reminds me of the good ole days of Panzerchrist.2

And it doesn’t stop there. Even the predictable back-to-back gunshots that are “Consumed Illusion” and “Hero-Antics” fill that death metal hole in my cynical heart. The best part of this duo is the bass work. Popping and gliding with impressive precision, Gunner owns “Consumed Illusion.” His basslines are unfuckwithable. His bass also lends a delicate hand to the melodic passages of “Hero-Antics.” Which is the perfect introduction to the overly melodic closer, “Zarathustra.” The closer is exactly what I wanted from Hypocrisy’s newest outing. Sadly, Worship never delivered. Not to mention this track also contains more of those oh-so-soothing Old Man’s Child leads.

All in all, I haven’t been this excited about a Blood Red Throne release in a long fucking time. If you’re new to the band, I would undoubtedly tell you to start with the back-to-back masterpieces Affiliated with the Suffering and Altered Genesis. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say you could also start with Imperial Congregation and work backward. Sure, the mid-career output might not make you a believer, but Imperial Congregation has re-established me as a BRT believer once again.

Tracks to Check Out: “Itika,” “Consumed Illusion,” and “Hero-Antics”

Show 2 footnotes

  1. AMG Blogsite and Conglomerated Blogworks, Ltd. is not responsible for the actions of anyone who listens to Doc Grier. – Steel Counsel
  2. Meaning their Battalion Beast days.
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