Imperium Dekadenz – Into Sorrow Evermore


We hope our favourite artists will remain faithful to their established sound, yet we never experience the thrill and trepidation that comes with seeing them experiment with pastures new when they stay on the same path. Those bands that fail to capture our imagination and never change their sound attract criticism for being predictable. Groups that deviate away from their core identity and then return to it can always expect a degree of rehabilitation among their old fanbase. German black metal veterans, Imperium Dekadenz, see it as a badge of honour to stay in the same black metal bubble that refuses to look beyond 1996 for inspiration. Though Into Sorrow Evermore is album number seven, it could be mistaken for a record from the band’s early era of the mid-2000s.

You’ll roll your eyes in antipathy if you can no longer tolerate black metal that focuses on atmosphere and sorrow at the expense of guitar extravagance and finger-squirming brutality. Imperium Dekadenz are not a dangerous band, nor do they excoriate humanity with misanthropic lyrics or scare the listener with absurd sonic extremities. The first two tracks – ‘Into Sorrow Evermore’ and ‘Truth Under Stars’ – are happy to operate in the atonal hoover bag realm of noise. Guitars sway through the amps like vapourless clouds. Drums flatten you in their fury and determination to add as many tom fills as possible. Remove the blast beats and the raspy vocals and you have something closer to ethereal rock. Sorrow is the defining emotion, but it’s not the sorrow of the sensitive man. No, this is the individual who accepts the world as a miserable place and knows it can never improve unless he transcends the mundane. It’s a leap into the void that calls only him and ignores other lesser mortals. Imagine fifty minutes of this and how easy it would be to nod off.

Fortunately, Imperium Dekadenz have a strange hold on you if you sit down and pay full attention to their art. ‘Aurora’ is one of the few compositions that builds its identity from a sombre piano and growling bass guitar rhythm. You could even call it post-black metal in the way it relies on the anguish of the vocals to push it into a higher plain of transitional strength through suffering. ‘Elysian Fields’ would be just as compelling if the guitarists rounded out their approach with crunchier techniques rather than just frantic tremolo strumming for five minutes. Like Harakiri for the Sky, they have the emotional integrity and the ability to turn rage into something multi-dimensional and liberating, but their guitar approach lacks the imagination to match it. ‘Forests in Gale’ and ‘Awakened Beyond Dreams’ reach a rare level of melancholy darkness in black metal, but you’ll struggle to remember anything about them other than the traces of emotional fervour that remain in your veins at the finish line. This is a major problem for an extreme metal band.

Imperium Dekadenz are too comfortable on this album. That does not mean their passions are contrived or their music lacks integrity. It has these in abundance. But it reminds you that black metal once derided the callow aspects of death metal and prided itself on being a more ferocious alternative. You can’t say this type of music offers anything to counter today’s saturation in other metal scenes. We need more songs like the blackened funeral doom of ‘November Monuments’ to keep things interesting. Here, they capture the sense of personal catastrophe and prove that you can document this experience in a language beyond words. It’s one of the few moments when you stand back in awe.

You can find an immersive quality to Into Sorrow Evermore if you want to test the elasticity of your patience. But its lack of originality and its pride in being so atavistic make you wonder if you should bother.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 20/01/2023

Record Label: Napalm Records

Standout tracks: Aurora, Elysian Fields, November Monument

Suggested Further Listening: Drudkh – Microcosmos (2009), Borknagar – Borknagar (1996), Funeral Mass – Shadow of the Raventhrone (2022)