Two years ago former Cradle Of Filth guitarist C. Edward Alexander and Dave Bryan bestowed upon us the excellent début Imperial Vengeance album, “At The Going Down Of The Sun”. For the band’s second full length release “Black Heart Of Empire”, we are transported back in time to Victorian London at the height of the British Empire for “ten dastardly tales of intrigue, phantasm and derring do.”
“Black Heart Of Empire” opens with the sound of a bustling street scene. ‘Scenes Of Inked Treachery’ features infamous Londoner Dave Courtney narrating the introduction over a grand orchestral score, a theme that continues throughout this record. The title tracks follows and is the albums first taste of the full Imperial Vengeance experience. Live drummer James Last (Fornost Arnor) drives this album along with Dave Bryan’s basslines whilst C. Edward Alexander leads the charge, adding the melodies through guitars and strings.
Vulture Industries vocalist Bjornar Erevik Nilsen and Therion soprano Lori Lewis both lend their voices and make their own mark on the album and add something different. ‘The Devil In The Detail’ mixes both furious blast beats with some stunning vocals from Lewis. The soft, quiet piano instrumental ‘Out Went The Candle’ gives this album yet another angle before returning to the abrasive, yet orchestral sound that is as melodic as it is brutal. The sound is reminiscent of many black metal bands that have incorporated a symphonic element to their music, although few have captured it this well.
The ‘Dark Aristocratic Metal’ tag they have suits them perfectly. “Black Heart Of Empire” is an epic album in every sense, the ten tracks weigh in at just over an hour and bar the introduction and the instrumental, the songs vary between five and ten minutes in length. The individual tracks each tell their own tale and invite you further and further into this dark world.
One thing I really do like about this band is the effort and thought that has gone into the whole presentation of this album. The concept is as important as the music for Imperial Vengeance and it all adds to the experience. Even the press release, which can often be a typed up word document, fits in with the whole look and style of the release, and introduces everyone involved in the recording as ‘Dramatis Personae’. Such care has been taken to make sure everything about this album is just right. The production has the mix just perfect and makes everything audible without ever being too much. A high quality product that is a treat to listen to. Pour yourself a glass of absinthe, sit back and enjoy Imperial Vengeance’s own personal take on this bygone age.