Imperial Vengeance - At The Going Down Of The Sun
Candlelight Records
Aristocratic Dark Metal
10 songs (60:10)
Release year: 2009
Imperial Vengeance, Candlelight Records
Reviewed by Aleksie
The British are coming, the British are coming! Well, not literally on a battlefield (although the band’s name together with the cover art made me think if this was some sort of a pre-emptive soundtrack to Great Britain invading their lost North American lands) but in sounds on Imperial Vengeance’s debut full-length. Lead by singer/guitarist Charles Hedger (also featured behind the axe in Cradle of Filth), the band was formed in 2007 and released this personal slab or war metal late last year. Don’t take war metal as a musical genre at all, but as a fitting depiction of the lyrical themes contained here. Tales concentrating on Britain’s colourful history of war, the lot of them. Musically the band employs an ambitious mix of black metallic blasts, slightly imposing death metal moments, gothic orchestrations and song structures that gently aim for the lands of the progressive. Although the band itself seems to go with the term “Aristocratic Dark Metal” according to their myspace.

The symphonic intro has you waiting for something grandiose indeed until sirens and a bomb-drop lead into 6th Airborne Division, which brings me thoughts of Emperor’s early days with the rapid guitar riffing and manic pace. Not quite as good on the vocals unfortunately. Hedger’s screeching and growling does the job nicely but he’s no Ihsahn. Cue lonely yet attention-getting garrison-trumpet from war-movie-of-your-pick and Aristocratic Sex Magick carries on with the ripping riffage, adding some melodic lead riffs into the mix along keyboard sounds that make me think of Dark Tranquillity of all bands. Not the only time those things pop up. Also, the song shows that Hedger’s harsh vox are much better than his clean singing.

The rest of the album builds up both bombastic highs and mellow lows with the occasional super-widdly guitar solo making an appearance and even throws in commendable details like voice narration by WWI-veteran Harry Patch, “who at the age of 110 was the last surviving tommy to have seen combat in the trenches of the Pashcendale.” The dominant metallic parts are joined by some subtle piano here, moody string-lead instrumental there and of course the symphonic atmospherics which can get pretty impressive from time to time. Especially near the end of Jus Ad Bellum, things get a little Danny Elfmanesque, which I appreciate. My favourite track however is the closing epic Trinovantes, which begins with just some nice acoustic guitars and flutes before being built with marching drums into full blast metal drive.

So the music here is quite alright, if a bit direction-seeking with the vastly different elements but still alright, so it’s a shame that the slightly tinny and thin production job forces me to take off some points which might otherwise reach a Surprise Of The Month. The instruments that are up in the mix are nicely balanced and during the mellow moments, everything feels good there. But when the heavy metal thunder is supposedly delivered, the lack of bass and weight hurts the album. No way are we talking early-Darkthrone-type horrible production here, but just the type that could use more Oomph! If I’d want some specifically war-themed metal into my CD-player, I’d still go for some Sabaton first and foremost, but fans of some symphonic black metal with a lot of different elements meshed in should enjoy At The Going Down Of The Sun, if the production doesn’t irk you.

Killing Songs :
6th Airborne Division, Cwn Anwwn & Trinovantes
Aleksie quoted 69 / 100
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