The bustling streets of New York have delivered some notable bands over the years, Type O Neg, Sunn O))), Dream Theater, Prong, Suffocation and Immolation to name just a few. But I’ll be honest here, New York’s not the first place that comes to mind when I’m looking for black metal. It looks like Imperial Triumphant‘s prompting me to rethink this faux pas with their latest EP release Goliath.
Goliath stampedes in hot on the heals of the bands 2012 full length release – Abominamentvm. And while Goliath isn’t a huge departure from what I’ve heard off this earlier release it’s definitely darker and allows Alex Cohen (drums) and Erik Malave (bass) to stretch their musical influence and include some of the revelations they’ve picked up from their time with tech death metallers Malignancy and Pyrrhon.
As a precursor of the hellscape to come, Goliath consists of two fire and brimstone fueled tracks – “Sodom” and “Gomorrah.” Like the biblical towns that these tracks were named for, both include just the right level of agonizing torment serving as a soundtrack to the searing slaughter that took place in these towns of unrepentant sin. The disquiet of “Sodom” kicks things off and while the track is labeled as black metal, it has in part a similar twisted, avant-guard feel to Deathspell Omega‘s Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice combined with some of the intense artistic experimentation that I enjoyed in Vom Fetisch der Unbeirrtheit‘s recent release Vertilger. Ilya Goddessraper serves up death metal-like growls with a force that’s damn near god-like and masterful in its ability to suffocate and control only broken by the occasional and beastly utterance by Erik Malave.
The songwriting on Goliath is far from straightforward. Both “Sodom” and “Gomorrah” are packed to the hilt with feverish drum work delivered by Kenny Grohowski (on “Sodom”) and Alex Cohen (on “Gomorrah”) and repetitive, sinister, atonal riffs that make jagged stabs at melody and strange, uneasy solos that show off Ilya’s technical edge. For myself, the most interesting dynamic is the almost grind-like feel Imperial Triumphant have included in the tracks, with both “Sodom” and “Gomorrah” seemingly made up of micro-songs, contributing to the whole. This combined with the sinister atmospheric elements adds an almost hallucinatory edge to your hellish journey, leaving you downright unsettled in your own skin and at the same time has the band transcending their Deathspell Omega admiration.
I’ve picked up on some negatives mentioned with regards the production used on Deathspell Omega‘s Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice. But in my mind the production suits the album and I’m not displeased that Imperial Triumphant and Colin Marston of Menegroth The Thousand Caves (Gorguts, Krallice, Nader Sadek, Atheist and Origin) engineered, mixed and mastered Goliath‘s traumatic audio journey using a similar tone, mix and controversial feel. These craftsmen certainly have a taste for the quirky!
Everything about this EP screams giant! From the album title, to the subject matter, finishing up with the eye-catching album art based on an illustration by Emile Bayard (best known for his depiction of Cosette from Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables) later converted to a woodcut by Louis Rousselet with the annotation – execution by elephant – I have to add is not a pretty way to die. Goliath is a remarkably complete and well thought out package from an exciting, emerging band. If you don’t already have this EP, repent and with the appropriate amount of remorse, make right.