Published Jul 10, 2018To craft a piece of coherent music is a feat of skill unto itself, and it is a mark of artistry when that music is actually good, let alone unique and original. But with an almost uncanny power, Imperial Triumphant have produced music that takes us by the throat and thrusts us into the midst of a roaring urban nightmare with Vile Luxury.
Hailing from New York, that very icon of the metropolitan serves as the foundation for Vile Luxury, as it tackles the duality of a cityscape (which itself could be seen as a reflection of man) where the architectural grandeur and lush exterior are but facades for the throbbing perversion lurking just beneath the surface.
Duality and contrast are key to the nature of Vile Luxury, both conceptually and in songwriting, as the smooth sophistication of jazz clashes and melds with the primal ferocity of blackened death metal to simulate that of civilization and primal nature.
With every album, Imperial Triumphant seem to reshape their sound, and on Vile Luxury, more than ever before, the integration of jazz is laid bare from the start on "Swarming Opulence," at once setting a scene of regal majesty and shadowed avenues in the glow of street lamps, before making way for the blast of tempestuous death, made all the more momentous by this contrast.
But the line is blurred, too, as in a song like "Cosmopolis," with the latter half becoming a bestial freeform, as though Deathspell Omega joined up with Ornette Coleman and Thelonious Monk.
In the way that only masters in their craft can, Imperial Triumphant conjure vivid scenes in the mind's eye, perhaps most explicitly on "Lower World," which draws on a Meshuggah style to give the unmistakable impression of churning machinery hidden deep below.
"Mother Machine" puts Imperial Triumphant's jazz chops on display without the clout of blast beats or howling roars, and offers some respite from the madness, no doubt emulating the dazed stupor of the listener in the wake of something like the panicked insanity of "Chernobyl Blues."
With a scathing complexity and unrelenting vigour, Vile Luxury is not consumed easily, as it cannot really be listened to like normal music, sometimes becoming akin to a film score in its suggestion of the visual. Imperial Triumphant pull no punches, which is why Vile Luxury is a masterpiece of avant-garde expression that reaches to lofty heights and finds purchase. (Gilead Media)