Released: 2007, Metal Blade Records
Much like the plague of metalcore bands and Gothenburg-influenced melodic death metal bands seems to never end today, back in the mid-‘90s there was a massive glut of Entombed / Dismember-influenced melodic death metal bands. Of course, most of those are long gone today (hopefully the metalcore brigade of today follows suit!), but a few survived. One, Sweden’s Impious has been steadily releasing albums since 1998. Formed in 1994, the band has 5 full-lengths to their credit, and seems to be just hitting their stride, now 13 years into their career.
Sure, melodic death metal is a pretty static genre – most bands don’t venture outside the parameters set by the progenitors 16 years ago. Still, it’s an enjoyable genre when done with conviction, and Impious has that in spades! From the first seconds of “The Confession”, HOLY MURDER MASQUERADE is a rip-roaring assault on the ears, lovingly spiced with catchy riffs and melodic guitars. Of course, Impious knows when to set guitars to shred – witness the assault of “T.P.S.” and “Death On Floor 44”. Yes, it’s all been done before, but there’s just something so refreshing about this album that I can’t help but love it. The sincerity of the music, the band’s obvious love of their craft, and the knowledge gained through experience all adds up to an impressive album that I keep coming back to again and again.
What’s more, the booklet that adorns this album is by far one of the most creative I’ve ever seen. HOLY MURDER MASQUERADE is a particularly twisted concept album, and it’s brought life with a stark comic book-styled insert, with each page representing one of the album’s 11 songs. While minimal, it’s an intriguing, original work that heightens enjoyment of the album.
I can’t give this album the full 5/5, just because it is so imitative of its predecessors, but at the same time it’s the best Swedish death metal I’ve heard in a long time. Highly recommended.