When it comes to sheer force, nothing compares to Impiety. Formed in 1990, this Singaporean quartet originally played fairly traditional black metal before transforming into a blakkened fukkin death monstrosity with 1999’s iconic Skullfucking Armageddon. Amidst a salvo of blast beats, staccato riffing, and livid vocals, that album began a musical warpath which has now continued for over two decades. Yet that doesn’t mean the group haven’t had obstacles along the way. Vocalist, bassist, and sole founding member Shyaithan has had a tough time keeping people in the band, with a list of former members that rivals The Faceless. The difficulties continued with ninth album Versus All Gods, which was originally recorded in early 2018 only to be left collecting dust on a label’s shelf for nearly two years. After a quiet digital release last fall, Gods is now finally getting a physical release via a new label. As the group’s first new album since 2012’s Ravage & Conquer, my anticipation was high for another atomic assault on the senses. And while Gods may not be Impiety‘s strongest album, it certainly delivers the extremity I hoped for.
If you’ve heard Impiety before, you know what to expect here. The band’s blasting drums are impossibly fast and are only broken by the occasional epic stomp or whiplashing stop-start. The riffing is likewise frantic and ferocious, often possessing a vague thrashiness and occasionally projecting an almost choral quality. First proper track “Reigning Armageddon” delivers all these elements as well as the band ever have, with its barbaric bludgeoning topped off by Shyaithan’s vicious vomited vocals. While the formula is nothing new, Shyaithan sounds great and the band as whole come across as remarkably tight and confident. The rage continues with “Djinn of All Djinns,” which adds a bit of groove and jumpy melody to the proceedings to create one of the most memorable tracks on the album.
More memorable moments are introduced in “Barbarian Black Horde” and late highlight “Terror Occult Dominion,” which feature main riffs that sound pissed as hell and exude the same furious urgency as Infernal War. Sadly these songs lean on these main riffs a little too heavily and repeat them a tad more than is needed. Likewise, the album as a whole doesn’t have a great deal of standout ideas, with few of these tracks doing much to stand apart from one another.
That’s not to say Gods is a bad album. Of the eight proper tracks here, the only one that truly feels inessential is “Dajjal United.” The other songs, while still sounding similar to one another, incorporate bits of variety to set themselves apart and keep things interesting. Alongside its slightly more notable riffing, “Azazel” features thrumming chugs in its midsection that are accompanied by commanding chants of the track title. “Interstellar Deathfuck,” in addition to being an early candidate for 2020 Song Title o’ the Year, features a neat ascending riff that’s later mimicked by a short bout of female choirs. Finally, closer “Magickal Wrath” harbors a groovier feel than its brethren and introduces a nice slamming chug to close out the album in suitably brutal fashion. Throughout the album are plenty of sizzling and squealing leads that add to the scorching bombast of the whole thing.
Gods is very much a typical Impiety album, but that’s nothing to complain about. Perhaps the biggest change is with the production, which is clear, modern, loud, and easily one of the better production jobs the group has ever had.1 While a bit more variety would have been appreciated, Versus All Gods nonetheless stands as a remarkably well-rounded and wholly enjoyable Impiety album, a 39-minute onslaught of blakkened death hellfire to satiate the kult motherfukker in all of us. Now three decades into their career, it’s amazing Shyaithan and his crew still sound as good as they do. It may not dethrone Formidonis Nex Cultus as my favorite Impiety album, but fans of Angelcorpse or other extreme blackened death are sure to enjoy nonetheless, as is anyone looking for a barrage of blasting rage to stir them from whatever apathy they’ve found themselves in.