IMPERIUM DEKADENZ "Into Sorrow Evermore"
To this writer, black metal is less about the tropes you typically find in other metal. It's less about the riff. It's less about musicianship from a technical ability standpoint. No, it's far more about atmosphere, vibe, emotion, and hitting a certain nerve. Something about this record, from the first moments those heavy notes hit in the opening title track; it hits you like a brick in the chest capturing a certain, specific vibe. It's a feeling of almost angry regret and depression perfectly captured in aural form. Further, it doesn't let up the entire record.
Horaz and Vespasian craft a swirling current of black metal anxiety. Not the anxiety that comes from recorded dissonance without resolution. No these riffs churn, but they follow cadences that are almost expected. Listen to the main couple of riffs of "Aurora" and you see slow transitions between the chords going in half- and whole-step increments like any other black metal band might do, but the drama is introduced by the pacing and carefully choosing where to leap and plummet to certain notes. This is the kind of musical anxiety that comes from listening to something that is pulling out your own inner workings a bit, laying them bare for you to gaze upon, and you genuinely being really uncomfortable with what you see. A bit of black metal therapy if you will. The trem-picked melodies, chords, and all the synth-/piano-atmosphere create a true wall-of-sound filling your listening experience. This wall-of-sound is only made even more potent by a mixjob awash in tasteful-yet-abundant ambience, as if this depressive music was recorded in an abandoned cathedral somewhere. Every musical choice feels calculated and deliberate; meant to serve to the song and therefore, the vibe.
Standout cuts for me are in short supply, but that is because there simply are no bad songs on this record. It is a cohesive collection of sad and reflective atmospheres. "Elysian Fields" stands tall with a melody line that is rather subtle in how it moves and flows, but it is backed by dramatic chordal shifts beneath it. Even before I read the lyrics that Horaz is pushing out, it felt like a contemplative - but in a negative way - walk along a wooded trail, and lo behold that seems to be echoed in the words a bit. There again, everything done with care and deliberation. "November Monument" is the slowest, most plodding tune on a record from a band never afraid of slowing down to almost doom levels. Having seen the band perform live and seeing the technical limitations of Vespasian as a drummer in that forum, I do feel that it's a deliberate decision but one where they are turning this weakness into a musical strength on tracks such as this. As for the aforementioned song, it's a trudge through the slow riffs before giving way to a bass guitar vamping away before a moment of resolution, almost an acceptance of whatever pain led the author to this point. If music can make you cry, this might be a breaking point for the listener, but because it is real in how it brings you to these raw emotions you have to appreciate it. There again, black metal therapy.
To not further belabor the point about this record being awash in a certain tone, I can only recommend that if you are a headbanger who likes music to make you feel a certain way, this is a monumental record deserving of attention. If you are simply a casual fan of black metal, I find that this record might even be something that takes that enjoyment to another level, so there again please dive into this raging river and check out this newest offering from IMPERIUM DEKADENZ. It's a roller-coaster of depressive emotion that resolves to the record concluding and the music ending, but repeated listens are to come because...like the music itself, the sad times never end and this record will be here for those moments.