Referring to Imperial Triumphant as a black/death metal band, (as I’ve just done here for sake of brevity), is highly misleading really, as this is one of the more individual and unique bands in existence. They play an avant-garde, experimental mix of styles that includes, (but is not limited to), black metal, death metal, progressive metal, doom, jazz, and post-everything.
The album is packed solid with non-standard musical ideas and sounds. Some examples, (certainly not exhaustive), include pounding dissonance, jagged riffs, unusual rhythms, atypical structures and compositions, dizzying instrumentation, sickening melodies, bass contributions that sound organic and alive, malignant atmospheres, strange time signatures, soft uneasiness, haunting piano, and much, much more. Imperial Triumphant have pushed themselves hard on Alphaville, and the results basically speak for themselves.
Of course, all of the above would just sound like a huge mess in the hands of a band that couldn’t control and focus the chaos effectively. Imperial Triumphant do this very well, and Alphaville offers the listener a challenging but rewarding experience. The album has a psychopathic flow to it that just draws you in against what’s probably your better judgement. Each track is its own master completely and utterly, yet fits with its fellows in grudging respect for the whole.
When listening to Alphaville it almost feels like it’s lowering your life expectancy, but it also certainly feels worth it to be part of something so vibrant, fresh, and unique. I find that the best albums offer the listener a journey, and although this is true of Alphaville, this is also an album that so feels like a destination; Imperial Triumphant have created a whole world here, and it could take a lifetime to explore it properly.
This is not easy listening, nor is it the sort of album to casually throw on in the background. This is a superlative, elite piece of work that requires time and patience to absorb thoroughly and completely, and even then you will always find something new to discover when you visit it again. This is a landmark release from a landmark band.