Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Album Review; Impaled Nazarene - Vigorous And Liberating Death

Track Listing:

1. King Reborn
2. Flaming Sword Of Satan
3. Pathological Hunger For Violence
4. Vestal Virgins
5. Martial Law
6. Riskiarvio
7. Apocalypse Principle
8. Kuoleman Varjot
9. Vigorous And Liberating Death
10. Drink Consultation
11. Dystopia A.S
12. Sananvapaus
13. Hostis Humani Generis

Impaled Nazarene's latest album, the follow up to 2010's solid 'Road To The Octagon' is one that catches my interest because, while the band's sound is very much established, I'm curious to see just how good this album is. For me, it's really a case of "I wonder..." with this album. Always an exciting feeling! My hopes are high after hearing the previous album from this Finnish four-piece, especially when I know that a good Black Metal album goes a long way. With that said, let's dive straight in past that sweet album cover.

The album begins with 'King Reborn'. It's mere moments before all the Black Metal hallmarks are present, with Impaled Nazarene's Punk and Grindcore influences clear to hear. It's a very quick blast of just two and a half minutes. Reima Kellokoski's drumming offers a bit more dynamic rather than just blast beats, and Mika Luttinen's vocals steer clear of the overly typical Black Metal shriek with an old school pre-Death Metal tone to them which helps the clarity of the lyrics. 'Flaming Sword Of Satan' takes things into a much groovier area, with a catchy riff and a headbanger's standard-issue, thrashing pace.

Things get faster with 'Pathological Hunger For Violence', which reminds me somehow of the band Goatwhore. Besides the change in pace, there's not a whole lot going on to capture the imagination. Production wise, the album is low-fi but avoids being overly muddy. There's a certain aesthetic being hunted with the production and mix on this record, which will surely satisfy Black Metal die-hards, but the album isn't overly accessible to the more casual listener. 'Vestal Virgins' carries on the very Punk laden approach; these songs are not arranged to be complex or technically-minded, instead opting for simplicity through an attack that is intended to induce whiplash.

There are some moments where the music shines through, though; the ridiculous pace on 'Martial Law' and the guitar solos that Tomi Ullgren pulls out being what leaps to mind. Tonally, the instrumentation is very old-school and very slick. The bass guitar sounds great, and the electric guitar tone sounds a lot more organic than most that you hear these days. In this, Impaled Nazarene capture the oft-forgotten spirit and fire of Extreme Metal. 'Riskiarvio' is sung in Finnish, but I don't care a jot for the fact I cant understand the lyrical content; the music involved is badass enough to make up for it!

Things get faster yet in the form of another flurry of noise that is 'Apocalypse Principle'. On songs like this, Impaled Nazarene really capture the essence of Extreme Metal's past. This song in particular makes me think of early Venom, Possessed and (ever so slightly) Slayer. 'Kuoleman Varjot' roars out of the speakers with the primitive bite of real old school Black Metal. Unlike a lot of bands, Impaled Nazarene avoid the pitfall of sounding like they're trying to hard to be 'kvlt' or retro, and I can only put it down to the attitude on show. It's not something that can be faked, really. There's a grit and grime to this album that is simply cool to listen to.

The title track is a stand out, for no other reason than that there are some really cool riffs within yet another break-neck assault of unpretentious Extreme Metal. The guitar work throughout is really fun and satisfying to listen to. The barked vocals are the icing on this particularly tasty cake.

Of course, Impaled Nazarene's discontent with the way their home country is run is no secret. Their thoughts on the state of Europe, the attempted censorships of free speech, and other social and political issues are blatantly and boldly on show here. Regardless of whether you agree with, disagree with, or are completely indifferent about their views, you can still hear just how pissed off this band is. Most great Metal is pissed off music, and that's a beautiful thing.

Perhaps the one hang-up on this album that will likely alienate it's share of listeners is that the material on 'Vigorous And Liberating Death' is all rather samey. There's no variety going on here, no twists and turns. There's no Progressive instrumentation to be heard within a five mile radius of this album. However, for those who just want primal, raw, pissed off aggression, you could do a lot worse than Impaled Nazarene's efforts shown here. In short; this album is nothing new, but it's got a whole lot of balls, it sounds great loud, and the songs would be great fun live. There's nothing wrong with that at all!

Rating: 6.5/10

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