Album Review: IMPERIUM DEKADENZ Meadows of Nostalgia
All in all, it's a great time to be a fan of heavy music. There are an abundance of bands out there who are either pushing the boundaries of their respective sub-genres or perfecting their sound to reach the pinnacle of Trueness. Unfortunately, you've probably never heard of any of these bands. I'm not saying that as a slight against your metal cred, but as a statement of fact. The incestuous nature of the metal writing community all but guarantees the majority of underground bands remain that way as writers rely on Haulix promos and PR releases to dictate what bands get coverage. I understand that it's hard (if not impossible) to make a living as a metal journalist in the digital age, and I know bloggers have to chase trends to ensure constant website traffic. But the end result is that many bands are left out in the cold as the same handful of buzz bands and albums get coverage from all of the major heavy metal news outlets from week to week. Imperium Dekadenz is one such band that's been largely ignored.
Since it's highly probable that you've never heard Imperium Dekadenz before, you should know that they are an atmospheric black metal band from Germany that manage to sound simultaneously depressive and majestic. Their previous album, Procella Vadens, was one of the best metal albums of 2010 that you didn't hear. Don't make the same mistake with the band's follow-up, Meadows of Nostalgia.
Imperium Dekadenz stay mostly true to the Norwegian black metal tradition. Meadows of Nostalgia features plenty of buzzsaw guitars, blast beats, and raspy shrieks throughout. But there's also a clear bass sound, prominently featured drums, and (gasp!) some acoustic passages in the mix that sets Imperium Dekadenz apart from many of their fellow practitioners of trve kvlt black metal.
But fear not, dear purists – there's nothing on Meadows of Nostalgia even remotely post-anything. This is still the grim, frostbitten black metal that you love. It's just had it's filthy patina polished a bit. Yes, the opening track of the album is two and a half minutes of acoustic guitars and chirping birds, but it still manages to sound menacing. And, once the instrumental opener ends, "Brigobannis", the second track, immediately launches into sinister guitar riffs, giant drums, and Horaz's banshee wail.
By the end of the third track you should have a good idea of what this album is all about. Most of the lyrics are in German, but the band still does a fantastic job of establishing an atmosphere rich in loneliness and dread with music alone. The fourth track, "Ave Danuvi", is arguably the best song on the album and throws some massive choral parts into the mix. "Ave Danuvi" feels like the pinnacle of the album and every song afterward seems like a reinterpretation of the first four tracks – the fifth track is another acoustic number and the sixth track, "Aura Silvae", starts out on a more positive note but quickly begins revisiting musical themes from the first half of the album. If the first few tracks are viewed as a journey to the top of a mountain, then the rest of the songs, starting with track five, represent the trip back down – the scenery is familiar but still noticeably different.
I could go on and on about why Imperium Dekadenz is so worthy of praise and why it's such a shame they get no love from the metal press. But, at this point, I'm just going to link to "Ave Danuvi" below and leave it at that. If you like what you hear (and I can't imagine you won't), order the album. It's out now worldwide on Season of Mist.