ALBUM REVIEW: Imperialist – Cipher

Here I review US Black Metallers IMPERIALIST with their upcoming debut album “Cipher” set for release with Transcending Obscurity Records on the 20th of October. The topical choice certainly stands out for a Black Metal band! Time to check this out!

1. Continuum opens with gorgeous string work that really set a beautifully dark mood for the album from the very onset of its existence. I am not sure where they plan on going from here but it is a greatly atmospheric beginning. Awesome stuff!
2. The Singularity comes in with some very nicely paced Black Metal riffs and pulled back drums that build up a nice tension for the song to be built upon. The drums intensify and the guitar/bass sections really drive through with some incredible songwriting and awesome ideas put to practise. There is a strange spacious atmosphere created the certainly suits the bands futuristic themes. The riffs are relatively alike traditional ones for the genre but have this nice slow burn effect with some more Thrash Metal elements used to create some excellent grooves and builds. The howled vocals completely lay waste to any peace, bringing the climax of the song into frenzied Black Metal assaults gorgeously. The lyrics are incredible as is the performance of the whole band who create a really unique and niche vibe with their esoteric music. Although the vocals took quite some time to join the rest of the band, it built up to them beautifully and they certainly are worth waiting for. An excellent opening piece of music, I am really curious to see where the band go with their sound next, after all, it is full of great potential as shown in this song. Killer!
3. Advent Anathema follows from the previous track very naturally, once more using very typical Black Metal riffs but very exciting patterns to transition them into something more unique. The drums are really punchy and well played while not being overbearing in any way. The lead guitars are quite quiet but still work nicely with the mix and the rhythm/bass sections really bring things together for the vocalist to add his really scraping, harsh assaults over perfectly. This music is very forceful and full of attack which is really enjoyable but also retaining its more atmospheric side, creating an ultimate Black Metal balance. The song has a nice upbeat kick to it that really belts out some nice and catchy blackened madness. Good work!
4. Splendor Beneath An Ancient Permafrost opens with a much more bleak soundscape than the last track which almost vanished into this one, I believe that to have been the intent though and I have to credit it on not being a predictable follow up. Soon after the momentous riffs and blast beats spring back up for more musical assaults. The sense of atmosphere is pretty impressive and everything is very tight. The vocals really come through very nicely and stand out gloriously on this piece. The lyrics make for a very interesting transcript and are very well written, with tons of thought clearly having gone into them, along with the music itself of course. There is a bitter melancholy to the song which feels genuinely cold, suiting its title and ideas very nicely. A magnificent musical creation full of tranquility and extremity with catatonically dark riffs cascading beautifully over epic blast beats and with some wicked vocal work too!
5. Umbra Tempest comes in with more aggression and an excellent yet quick build up into manic force, this song feels a bit more original in the riffs but with definitively very classic Black Metal elements still taking the foreground. The style of the riffs with the drums are actually quite cheerful to listen to in comparison with the last track but soon drop into sombre melodies once more. The gruesome attack on the listener is really strongly put together with excellent production and some awesome ideas. I do feel like some momentum is lost in the length of the track but it does mix tempos and riffs up enough for nothing to become bland or dull which is good. The battery on the drums is unrelenting in the faster parts with some really nicely dissonant riffs that sound incredibly gnarly. The doomy bridge works well with the piece, giving some military sounding snare work a good pound before building into some very nice guitar melodic riffing and a killer solo. Really cool track!
6. Chronochasm comes into fruition with some awesome groovy and well paced guitar/bass/drum work that really has some balls to it, the climax is killer and this is already proving to be one of the most enjoyable songs for me. The ferocious assault is much more unique in how it all comes together with convulsive riffs and drums and much lesser amounts of vocals used so when they do appear it really cuts through harder. The intensity is really fearless and everything just feels incredibly natural. This is some killer Black Metal here with some damn great descending grooves in the riffs. The lyrics are nice and dark but certainly tasteful and well suited to the track and sounds of the band. The incredibly violent and powerful dissonance of this song is a huge part in why I think it sounds so cool with some really unique songwriting going on and a lot of technical ability shown from the whole band, the guitar solo really showing some nice flare to it. Amazing work on this one especially!
7. Binary Coalescence opens with faded in guitars that sound really cool in a nice old school way, with a real bleak feeling to it. There is a more present melancholy that is also met with equal amounts of aggression and full on assaulting Black Metal torment beautifully. The music has all had this really cool surging feel to it that really keeps you in full focus of everything going on, an album to really be immersed in for sure. The rhythm section along with the bass really shine on this track adding some really elevating push to everything. This is some very strong material that I think will be a great foundation for the bands future material to create even more cool ideas from. This track being a fine example, that has a feeling that there will be at least a sequel to it. Really crushing sonically, liked this track a lot, still not quite as good as the previous for me though! Lovely solo at the end, I must add!
8. The Dark Below once more blasts into some tight melodic riffs and a more thrashing feel to things that perfectly transition into huge atmospheric Black Metal waves of noise. The unrelenting guitars and bass, pummelling drums and shrieked vocals create a very sinister vibe that the band have used just the right amount for it to still have impact but also not feel completely irrelevant. The more thrash rhythms of this song are a nice and unique addition to the mix of pretty technically diverse music. This track was really catchy, I enjoyed it a lot, the music feels really progressive but not in a pretentious or completely randomised way which is an interesting element to the album. The slower sections are really stunning to listen to and have some killer drum fills to be found within them. Pretty bleak mid sections really tie the song together perfectly with some more soulful leads taking over nicely. The ending riffs actually have quite a Melodic Death Metal feel to them which was a nice surprise twist to keep things refreshed before a hugely atmospheric and drawn out ending, stunningly put together!
9. Mercurian Dusk brings the end into sight. I am hoping for one last all out piece of madness from the band. It begins with a really cool Inquisition vibe to the groovy, discordant riffs which I think left too quickly but the following more thrashy parts still sound really cool and build on the original riff idea to create something with more of a Behemoth vibe pretty nicely. The assault is pretty full on and some really nice guitar and bass work is used to create a horrific and dark atmosphere with some ferocious drums to it too. The vocals sound really grim and much more depressive here. The epic build of the song does work really nicely altogether, my only gripe being how short the intro riff stayed for, I think it could have been built up more, but I’m just giving my opinion. Anyway, the song has a really nice cascade of violently tremolo picked notes and plenty of more upbeat yet gruesome and drawn out sections. The lead guitar riffs are really tasteful and the thrashy parts add quite a nice touch to things too. A killer closing track, that on the most part doesn’t feel like a closing track! Great work!

This album is pretty close to home Black Metal, using a lot of the typical formulae but with a key twist, the unique theme and symbology utilised. There are some really song elements to this and an overall really enjoyable performance! While I think there could have been more variation in things like synths or sampling to add to the Sci-Fi theme, it was a really cool release! -7/10

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