Impiety – Ravage & Conquer Review

Impiety // Ravage & Conquer
Rating: 2.5/5.0 — Bam! Bam! Bam!
Label: Pulverised
Websites: myspace
Release Dates: EU: 2012.04.02 | US: 05.08.2012

Y’know, Impiety is kind of like the Hitler of the underground blackened death metal community. They have been this war-obsessed band for as long as they have existed, Christians are to them what Jews were to Hitler, and to top it all off; they are not exactly Singaporean in every sense of the word (just like how Hitler wasn’t Aryan even though he preached its concept to the masses, since he was actually born in Austria and not Germany). As much as the band is often marketed to be Singapore’s premier “blackened warbeasts” (or whatever else that sounds militant and barbaric), they are really more international than Singaporean. Band members that have come and gone have, after all, come from countries such as Mexico, Japan, and until more recently, Italy. Now, they’re back to having an almost pure Singaporean lineup. Only foreign dude is Louis Rando aka Dizazter, the new full-time drummer who is from Australia. [Ah, nice ahistorical comparisons right out the gate: this can only get better!AMG]

Impiety’s brand of filthy blackened death metal is the kind that will get that inner beast roarin’ and ready to feed, but other than that primal feeling, there isn’t really much to go back and re-explore again once the first spin is over. That is not to say, however, that the first spin isn’t enough to get your pants wet. Yep, you will feel stuff like aggression and excitement and such, but that is about it. It’s like having sex without love.

Tracks fly by like incoming cannon shell after incoming cannon shell, thanks to Dizazter’s heavy rain of drum beats that sound as though they are being played by Dr. Octopus. Guitars soar, shred, and wail at blazing speed; Shyaithan pukes at you over and over again and makes you wonder how his liver is able to store those metric fuckgallons of bile, and the bass guitar simply shadows the guitars as usual, never taking the spotlight at any one time. While this current style of Impiety’s is already different from the Darkthrone kind of black metal they used to play in their early days, one thing still remains constant: Shyaithan never had, and evidently still doesn’t have any intention of sounding ‘new’ (read: being innovative). Depending on whether you’re the kind of metalhead who values fresh and ever-changing sounds like me, or familiar sounds firmly rooted in eras from decades ago, this will be a great point of contention between us of course.

One thing that has always made me remember Impiety well, though, is their iconic goatman mascot. In particular, this album’s cover artwork is probably the most kvlt and brutally awesome depiction of their mascot ever. I mean, this is almost worthy of a “Your argument is invalid” tag! How often do you see a goat with a human body decked out in heavy metal battle gear, carrying an inverted crucifix AND fuckin’ machine gun while sitting on a spiked throne? As effective and catchy as this visual aid has been to Impiety’s cause over the years, it is ultimately always done by an artist and not the main musician and mastermind, Shyaithan himself. It doesn’t bode well for a band if the artwork is consistently more memorable than the music itself. After all, this is a music review and the music has to be given more focus and priority over the album artwork, even if they all make up the complete package together.

One may argue that the artwork is most probably requested to be be drawn as such to fit the theme of the music in the first place, but then again, visual impact and audio impact work in very different ways; if I remember the artwork that is supposed to be a graphic representation of the music, but forget how the music sounds like in a heartbeat, what is the point? Shyaithan’s musical ideas may have been somewhat consistent over the years (if you disregard the big stylistic change from OSBM to blackened death metal), but they are practically stagnant and trapped inside an airtight creative juice tank teeming with the same old ingredients that are being recycled over and over again. Again, consistency isn’t a bad thing. But I listen to metal to be wowed, and love my metal to be daring enough to step into new territories yet maintain a certain sense of musicality. “Legacy of Savagery” is the only song that caught my ear on this record, and it is only due to the rhythmically catchy drumming heard at the start of the song. Save for opening track “Revelation Decimation”, every other track on this album starts off with a bloody annoying pick scrape; can’t you do something different, mah goat-obsessed brah?

Showing off their love for old school extreme metal, the band’s cover of Bathory’s “Sacrifice” is used to top off the album. Obviously, the cover is given an Impiety-style “artillery bombardment” makeover, meaning the original low-fi Bathory song is basically given a face lift with top-notch, modern audio production; with the inclusion of a few creative additions from Impiety themselves, such as Dizazter’s excessive drumming and Shyaithan growling in his usual low-pitched voice instead of mimicking Quorthon’s high-pitched shrieks. It is a faithful tribute nonetheless, but serves no purpose other than being Shyaithan’s googoth proclamation of love for the “Old Gods”.

There’s breakneck speed and some variation in melodies on this record, but that’s about all that I’ll remember once I’m done with this review. It’s as if I had a mug o’ bad beer, got into a bar scuffle, got sucker punched, and tadah! I don’t remember a thing.

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