Aristocratic Dark Metal… Yeah, that’s what I thought too!
My expectations didn’t exactly improve when I found out that members of Imperial Vengeance also plays in one of my favorite hate-objects: Cradle of Filth. Then I discovered something utterly weird. This music is to merry old England what bands of the second black metal wave were to Norway. I’m very familiar with the pan-Scandinavian and pan-German metal scenes. The genre suits the portrayed national/regional mentalities fairly good. But pan-British extreme gothic metal? It made me wonder quite a lot… My internal voices started arguing. Is this a brilliant innovation bringing hitherto unseen themes into our beloved underground; or a completely un-metal set of national virtues that poses as metal?
The answer? Something in between.
The music is rough enough. At least the standard instrumentation is. It’s melodic, sure, and well played, nicely distorted, thoroughly produced. I was very relieved to find out, that the immense influences from Cradle does not include the enervating girlish screams. Unfortunately they do include the ridiculous keyboard sounds. Please note that I’m very much into keyboards – also the use of keyboards in metal – but I have a limit. Imperial Vengeance throws in bizarre blip-blop-noises whenever the metal cannot work alone. And what noises! The songs “Aristocratic Sex Magick” (I’m not going to delve into that title!) and “Cwn Anwwn” is completely fucked up by silly computer sounds. The title track, “At the Going Down of the Sun”, is glued together by a machine-melody that fits Sesame Street a lot better than it does extreme metal.
On the other hand, the British goth-troopers delivers some exceptionally atmospheric songs, and an album where every individual song is closely tied together with the rest. They use their chosen theme – the history and cultural credentials of the British Empire – effectively, to determine what mood each song needs, and the music actually works. It’s a sore shame that the keyboards ruin everything. Really, sometimes they sounds like something out of a 1960’s sci-fi movie!