Released: 2009, Candlelight Records
With their first album AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN, Imperial Vengeance have offered up a tasty take on the symphonic black metal genre with some great results. Imperial Vengeance is mainly the brainchild of bassist Mr. David Bryan and Mr Charles Edward Alexander, a.k.a. Charles Hedger, formerly a touring guitarist for Cradle of Filth, and it’s no surprise that Mr Alexander takes quite a bit of influence from his ex-band. Make no mistake about it though, Imperial Vengeance are their own band, every bit of it.
It’s hard to describe AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN, so let’s get the overall theme out of the way first. Mr Bryan almost exclusively writes all the lyrics which are centred around British Victorian history, which, judging by the band’s name, is thematically about British imperialism right up to decolonisation post-World War II. They even got World War I veteran Harry Patch to do some narration on the album.
While this album is unmistakably symphonic black metal in sound, there’s a strong melodic death flavour to it as well, especially the melodic death/power metal hybrid that Children of Bodom and Kalmah used to play. The riffing, whether the black metal or melodic death, is top-notch, with aggression, melody, and variety in lip-smacking quantities.
But the entire feel of the album is…glorious. Soaring black metal rasps, ugly guitar riffs and complex solos, frantic piano interludes – it shouts Emperor, Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir to me, but much more. The synth is frankly unbelievable, I haven’t heard orchestration this well done since I last spun Virgin Black on my ITunes. It’s positively Rachmaninoff-ian, as ghoulish couples in tuxedos, tails and evening gowns swirl to apocalyptic waltzes in a ballroom of black and gold; yet at times it is Wagner-esque in its martial goose-stepping and patriotic breast-beating. With pianos and cello making frequent appearances here and there (‘From Childhood’s Hour’ is quiet suicidal desperation in 2 and a half minutes), the hour of music seems to flash past in a hurry!
If you’re looking for something slightly different, Imperial Vengeance is a good investment – AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN has replay value up to its ears!