IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT — Spirit of Ecstasy (review)

IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT — Spirit of Ecstasy album cover Album · 2022 · Avant-garde Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Hard to believe that once upon a time metal music, then simply existing as heavy metal was considered immature and deemed just an adolescent phase that gullible minds fell victim to. Of course it was a plot by ole Satan himself to lead us away from a good Christian ethos. Fast forward some four decades and there is no denying that metal music has conquered the world and like a sordid slut with rampaging hormones has spread its libertine legs open wide for virtually every other musical genre to impregnate its contemptible corruption of the rock music paradigm. And here we are in the early 2020’s where it seems there is no end in sight with new strains of avant-garde metal usurping the world of prog, jazz, ethnic folk and just about every other musical expression throughout history.

As metal has become more extreme it has also become more confident with the knowing that no musical expression must go unconquered and on the top of the list for unfathomable musical colonization strategies is the New York City based IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT which has declared with a thundering decree that metal music is your master now so bow down and smell the glove! Formed as far back as 2005 by mastermind lead vocalist / guitarist and avant-garde connoisseur Zachary Ezrin, IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT started out as a somewhat typical black metal act albeit with a propensity for adding technical death metal chops and unhealthy doses of dissonance. The 2012 debut album “Abominamentvm” showcased a restless unsettling mix of the technically adept in the midst of swarming angsty chaos and ominous dissonance.

The following “Abyssal Gods” followed suit only the creative pangs were churning and the addition of piano, cello, trumpet and choir seeped into the mix. The floodgates were opened but with 2018’s “Vile Luxury” the dam truly burst and the true IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT reared its ugly head as a bizarre brutal chimera of blackened dissonant death metal with New York City jazz club sophistication. The world would never be the same. Fast forward to the following year in 2019 and Colin Marston of Behold…The Arctopus / Dysrhythmia / Krallice / Gorguts fame entered the scene. And then so too did Trey Spruance of Mr Bungle / Secret Chiefs 3 / Faxed Head prestige. Yep, things were about to get weird and i when i say weird i mean sky’s the limit weird where fertile creative bat shit crazy weird meets the world of technical complexity. The real IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT was born!

Back for the attack in 2022, IT releases its fifth installment of musical terror SPIRIT OF ECSTASY with a star-studded cast of musical freaks. While still very much the baby of Zachary Ezrin who handles guitars, vocals and orchestrations along with partners in crime drummer Kenny Grohowski better known for jazz-fusion bands like Abraxas as well as bassist Steve Blanco, this one features an impressive guest roster of Colin Marston on drums, guest lead guitarists Max Gorelick, Testament’s Alex Skolnick and Trey Spruance. Add a few guest vocalists, a choir, trombone and trumpet and we’re ready for a riot in the Big Apple. If that’s not weird enough the album also finds a cameo appearance by, um, are you ready for this?…. Kenny G! Yeah, for those not familiar with smooth jazz from the 80s, this guy was the heartthrob of post-menopausal housewives all across the USA with his smooth inoffensive elevator jazz musical style. Told ya this was a weird one!

OK get to the friggin music already! SPIRIT OF ECSTASY is a brutal bestial affair of disso-death metal cranked up to the max but set to the compositional flair of avant-garde jazz. Add some spoken word samples and unorthodox, well everything and you are guaranteed to experience something that could only find avant-garde masters like Marston and Spruance on board! With a total of eight tracks that just miss 55 minutes, this one is a wild ride and a grand declaration that screams disdain for any pesky conventional labeling systems and while jazz-infused extreme metal is hardly anything new under the sun, this chimeric hybridization has never really been carried out to its logical conclusion with such finesse and equanimity.

As this thundering stampede of blackened disso-death ferociously delivers an avant-exodus from the status quo, IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT delivers a veritable bizarre pendulum swing from the darkest and most inaccessible extremes of modern metal to the unexpected swanky club action of jazz-fusion savoir-faire. What sounds like a train wreck in Grand Central Station in reality unleashes some of the most competent musicianship forging new unifying forces between hitherto totally separate opposing musical forces. Through the album’s run we experience not only unrestrained metal mayhem but also superb excursions into jazz-fusion plenteousness but also eerie off road journeys into dark ambient episodes of mind-fuc.kery that would sit well in the golden years of Krautrock but metalheads don’t fret!… the cacophonous din of distortion and adrenaline fueled percussive outbursts are never too far in the distance.

In many ways SPIRIT OF ECSTASY sums up the world we find ourselves in at this point of the 21st century. Cacophonous din from every direction laced with tangible moments of short-attention span motifs that fluctuate like a kaleidoscope for the ears as angsty riffs and metal bombast pummel the senses. Metal dressing for an otherwise atmospheric avant-jazz album is what SPIRTY OF ECSTASY inculcates and the spirt of valiant vanguard is in full display here. I mean where else in the universe could you truly find the crazed intractability of Colin Marston sitting side by side with the mainstream as it gets 80s vanilla smooth jazz king Kenny G? This is a true work of art on so many levels showcasing the fact that extreme metal truly is the new prog of the modern era. Definitely not for the feint at heart. This is difficult listening music at its finest as it will take many years to wrap their head around this one. All i can say is this one is quite TRIUMPHANT in its unorthodox approach and doesn’t hold back one iota.
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siLLy puPPy wrote:
1 year ago
I can't believe Kenny G is on a metal music site :D
Now i've seen EVERYTHING :DDD

UMUR wrote:
1 year ago
Hell Yeah I read about this album and the Kenny G. feat...awsome :-).
Tupan wrote:
1 year ago
Only Imperial Triumphant to make me listen to Kenny G... and like it! Great review, man!

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