Imperial Triumphant
Inceste EP

Imperial Triumphant are from the New York City area and Inceste is inspired by the works of Parisian grand kink-philosopher Marquis de Sade. Inceste is blackened metal intersecting the physical and psychological pain realms of Deathspell Omega and Naked City (John Zorn’s genre-frappe jazz group).  I suppose you could generally label it “black metal” for the sake of ease but it would simply be misleading at this point in the bands career.  You certainly wouldn’t suggest to a young, burgeoning metal head “hey, if you like Darkthrone check out Imperial Triumphant”.  Recordings like Inceste require context and listening maturity.  I would go so far as to say it  requires the setting of a bleak silhouette skyline of converging skyscrapers blending into crooked apartment blocks and ever narrowing streets where cobbled stone is visible through the chipping concrete.  For added effect hope for rain and pick up an expensive art porn book to thumb through.   The ep does very well to invoke the essence of each the city, and the salacious facets of de Sade.

Marquis de Sade is included in the pantheon of writers whose material is oft used in metal as an inspirational base, right up there with the likes of H.P. Lovecraft, J.R.R. Token, and Friedrich Nietzsche.  Inspirations that are just as likely to be considered tired yet fully understandable.  Thankfully Imperial Triumphant use de Sade with a respectable level of subtlety and not like an assumed identity as other bands have done so with these bygone figures.  There’s a natural, pleasantly even sound to the mix like that you would find on a modern avant jazz record.  The guitars are overdriven as expected on a metal record but the usual adjectives such as “crushing”, or “blazing” aren’t appropriate here.  Like a Naked City these songs can change on a dime but not necessarily from frenzy to greater frenzy.  They call upon the metallic skin sheering of album Leng Tch’e as much as the urban mescaline hazes of the ambient Absinthe.  These are passages of forced submission when the black leather restraints are being applied and the absinthe/oxymorphone cocktail is kicking in.   There’s an inappropriate, playful yet dangerous vibe to Inceste which does the DeSade inspiration justice and lures you into their crawlspace of shameful desire.

“Libertine” is a teasing intro.  Think any number of Morricone’s compositions for 70’s Euro art film.  An ambling piano build with some French fellow declaring warning before transitioning to true opening track “Kaleidescope Orgies”.  That designer drug cocktail is now saturating the senses with misshapen, bending guitars and shambolic drumming.  Echoing low growls from the orgy high priest bellow across this urban 10th floor temple.  Just as your head begins adjusting the scene of red and black lit bodies, naked or nearly, becomes apparent and an overload of ecstatic saxophone dives in.  If it makes you uncomfortable it means it’s exciting.  At the songs most fevered height it might sound completely free and chaotic but there are rules at this secret club.  Suddenly at 3:50 the moans, chatter, and faces are tuned out.  A brief minute of subjective reflection: Have you given in to the prurient surroundings, or is it something else that has control over you?  By the 04:45 mark the music again erupts and these questions are drowned because the flesh screeches out.  You are now a member and shackled servant.

Under the street lamp outside of the unassuming commercial building, where you participated in an act that your conscious mind can barely yet acknowledge, you exhale a last “Breath of Innocence”.  Thoughts of reflection and speculation on the night’s bizarre ritual are careening between the right and left sides of the brain.  Guitars swoop and dart meeting head on with a shifting wall of snare blasts and long, full kit rolls.  It’s all now making you nauseous.   From 04:40 to the end of the song a cycle of thudding quick double kick/tom fills and clanging guitar hold as you would to lamp post after lamp post , trying to steady yourself and gain some composure while stumbling on down unfamiliar dark avenues before disappearing down the subway steps.

Weeks pass and on a crisp November night you are psychically summoned.   A different building, to a freight elevator, and this time you are going down below the streets.  The elevator rumbles to a stop and two women in red latex masks silently beckon you to follow.   “Oblivion in Morsels” leads in with Mid-paced blasting and, to this point, the most straight forward guitar playing on the album build nervously from a short, circular melodic riff to alternate picked chugging.  The corridor winds slightly until descending stairs appear.  A lone guitar plays a quick ascending run preluding a spectral chorus of disciples from beyond the stairway; the voices of many dozens.  As their last ringing notes fall, the demonic call of the high priest speaks to those present and beyond.  The members respond again in full chorus.  This section of music Is the pinnacle moment on Inceste. The sight of this lair, lit by a hanging garden of flame, is vastly overwhelming.  The group of servants sense your entrance and the entrancing chorus doesn’t appear again through the song.  What follows is furiously picked, disorienting black riffs have a theremin-like warbling effect, likely helped by the chosen sweet spot of reverb.  The bass throughout the album provides a dense surrounding enclosure that contains the wild, tonally jarring guitars like a city sewage tunnel does for the mentally ravaged homeless population.  It’s function is providing atmosphere, not a rhythm.   Ahead of the rows of cloaked men and masked women there is a circle of 8 others with a space that awaits a ninth.  You aren’t late to this depraved gathering, but right on time.

Imperial Triumphant accomplishes a lot in short amount of time.  I’m impressed with how many twists they navigate while never sacrificing the mood for thrill.  In my first listen I honestly couldn’t predict where a song was going at any one point.  Based on what I sampled of their previous output this ep proves they are on their own isolated path.  It’s also an excellent highlight of the ep as an important format of it’s own not only for transition material, outtakes, or a tool to quench the fans.  I’m a bit weary of whether Imperial Triumphant could maintain momentum and sustain atmosphere without possibly sagging over the course of 40 plus minutes.  I’d love to be proved otherwise but while Inceste is brief it takes exactly the time it needs and I’m happy to start it over from the beginning.  It’s an ep that will be on my year end list but should be recognized to be just as substantial as any of top ending full length albums on the list.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mars Budziszewski
June 2nd, 2016


  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    oh this is insane. I love it.

  2. Commented by: TowardsTheHum

    Awesome review!

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