Ghost Cult recently caught up with Zachary Ilya Ezrin of Imperial Triumphant over Zoom ti discusses their new album Alphaville, which is due out July 31st, 2020 via Century Media. Zachary discussed the surprising global acclaim of Vile Luxury, the creation of the new album, how Zach – drummer Kenny Grohowski and bassist Steven Blanco approach composing, the theme of the new album, working with guests such as Tomas Haake (Meshuggah), Phlegeton (Wormed) on guest vocals, Yoshiko Ohara (ex-Bloody Panda) as part of the choirs, RK Halvorson as part of the Barbershop quartet, Sarai Chrzanowski as part of the choirs, Andromeda Anarchia (Folterkammer, Dark Matters) as part of the choirs, J Walter Hawke on the trombone, and Colin Marston on guitars, choosing the distinctive cover songs that close the album, opinions on other costumed groups such as KISS and Ghost, and what comes next for the band. Pre-order Alphaville here and check out our chat. Continue reading
Bless the Earth With Fire (Static Tension) is a relatively short first album from Rochester UK quintet Allfather but, my God, is it an utter brute. Played at a largely sedentary pace, the Sludgy sensibilities are offset by Hardcore-flavoured guitars which boot the monstrous bedrock squarely up the arse at frequent intervals.
Opener ‘Raskolnikov’ is the first of four fairly brief tracks which nevertheless crush boulders whilst fired with a rampant anger: its howling solos giving the bone-grinding, occasionally shredding riffs some emotional substance and lightening the slurring emphysema of vocalist Tom. The repeated roar “I’m a murderer!” is truly nerve-twanging, the rhythm and squall rising in turn to give the full threatening effect.
It’s a sound that brings to mind the bludgeoning hostility of Hang the Bastard, whilst possessing more invention and vitality. Follow-up ‘The Bloody Noose’ displays more vicious weight before dancing buzzsaw riffs awaken a marauding monster, sure to whip up pits everywhere. The Hardcore Thrash of ‘Mouth of the Beast’ subsequently rips along yet retains a remarkable heaviness, its colossal coda terrified by manically squealing leadwork; whilst the diseased Stoner of ‘Dark Actors’ attracts comparison to High on Fire, almost matching the Californians’ mammoth intensity with a mid-section of pulverising riffs and drums.
The rather splendidly-titled, eleven-minute closer ‘Death, and Hell Followed With Him’ is an epic which again displays the full flourish of the band’s creative hand. Wonderfully emotive and often atmospheric without ever losing potency, and with a perfectly timed quickening, it does however highlight the slight flaw in the make-up. Tom’s unflinching scour is often suited to the task yet sometimes appears tired and limited, always seeming more effective when the scream is employed – which is all too briefly. Thankfully here it’s overshadowed by marvellous instrumentation which gives fans of all Metal persuasions something to revel in.
The Bandcamp version has a bonus track, ‘Blood Red Sunset’, which barrels along at a medium pace, its devilishly groovy riffs and wailing solo ensuring rambunctious fun. Altogether Bless the Earth With Fire displays Allfather’s near-ideal balance of Goliath’s size and David’s lightning-quick devastation to the full.
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Butcher Babies co-vocalist Carla Harvey issued her first book titled Death & Other Dances (available via www.carlaharvey.bigcartel.com). She shared stories about her pre-Butcher Babies’ life, including growing up in Michigan and relocating to Los Angeles to pursue music, as well as working as a stripper and a mortician.
She is open about her life as a stripper, which she wrote about in her book. Fairly candid about that period of her life, Harvey talked about how she became attracted to this.
“I write about that in my book. I find it funny people always think that strippers are horrible human beings with daddy issues and blah blah blah…yeah yeah sure maybe I have some daddy issues growing from my abandonment of my father, but my fascination with becoming a stripper started when I was very, very young child. Way before my parents separated. Way before my father was out of my life. They brought me back a doll from Las Vegas on a stand and it was a showgirl doll with a costume on. I was so fascinated by that doll and I wanted to look like a doll, be the doll and I wanted to be a showgirl or a stripper.”
“I always give the rest to hair metal. I don’t think there’s any girl who used to take off her clothes and dance around the room to ‘Girls Girls Girls’…that probably didn’t help! I’ve always been very sexual. I’ve always wanted to be a dancer. I think if you brave it for a short period of time, it’s not a big deal. For me, it helped me grow as a person in a couple different ways. I was very shy. I would never talk to people one on one ever. It helped me open up. It helped me talk to people. In certain ways it was a good thing. If you get stuck there too long, you’re around the wrong people. I started doing drugs. But not all of it was bad.”
Harvey also shared how she found a brief career as a mortician and her fascination with death, something many musicians from Jonathan Davis (Korn) to Gen (Genitorturers) have been enamored with.
What is the basic attraction to death for musicians? “I don’t know but for me, I was always fascinated by death since I was a kid,” she said. “The first chapter of my book, I talk about that fascination. I’m sure it’s the same with a lot of people since they were a child, and I think musicians more so because we’re creative people and things people wonders about. I don’t know. Maybe we’re weirdos.”
Another connection has been select goth and metal people have been connected to this profession. Television shows such as NCIS have a gothic looking coroner (Pauley Perrette’s Abby Sciuto character) have portrayed such people in those professions. But very seldomly do those folks last.
“It’s funny because I went to mortuary school – for me it was fulfilling a life long dream. There were a few kids in my class who were goth kids. As soon as the first embalmment lab hit, they were all gone. They couldn’t handle it. I think a lot of people think embalmment is very rock n roll, very cool and tough and they want to do it, but when it comes down to it, it’s a very hard job. It takes extreme empathy to do it. It’s definitely not a job that people could do.”
School was something she did well in and managed to excel during her years there. She got good grades and was at the top of her class. Plus being in Mortuary College, science was also one of her best subjects.
“I was always great at science. It was one of my best subjects in school. I’ve always gotten straight A’s and on the dean’s list and all of that. I think a lot of times in my youth I was very bored, did drugs and stuff like that. I’ve always gotten great grades and always been smart. I think my first semester was chemistry, anatomy, physiology, embalming, mortuary law and all of that stuff. I hadn’t been in school in a very long time when I went back, but it was great to dive into it and let my brain be full of that kind of stuff than drugs.”
“There’s no way that I could do drugs during a time like that at 8 in the morning. That really helped me stay sober knowing that I had to do that if I wanted to graduate that program. I graduated on the dean’s list. It was a turning point in my life, going from being a complete drug addict to being a college graduate on the dean’s list within a couple year’s time. That really saved me.”
So how long did she work in this field? “I was in school for a couple of years and I practiced for about two years. My band started to…then I couldn’t do it any more. It’s a very demanding job – no time off, no vacations. You really can’t have a full time job like that and do music. Obviously at this point in my life I choose music. It’s my dream.”
“I think one day I might go back into it. I’d like to be a funeral director or a grief counselor. I like to help people and I have a lot of fans who have had loss in their lives reach out to me for grief counseling. I really enjoy that. Maybe I’ll do that again but I also love music so much that I don’t see myself stopping that any time soon.”
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Making New York an evil[ler] and dark[er] place since 2005, Imperial Triumphant play a style of dark, swirling black metal that calls to mind the similarly twisted Dodecahedron, which already is a good sign, because Dodecahedron is pretty damn rad. I’m not too familiar with other bands in this style aside from perhaps Deathspell Omega, who I would describe as sounding ‘angular’ due to their heavy reliance on discord, dissonance, and generally non-standard musical phrasing that can grate uncomfortably against the ear, though it can vary strongly depending on how it is performed.
I would place Imperial Triumphant in the same category as Dodecahedron, in that they capture the correct atmosphere and heavy-dizzying dynamic well in the two songs given, properly entitled ‘Sodom’ and “Gomorrah”, because I suppose the Biblical wellspring of influence will never run dry as long as monotheistic values are dominant in society. While both pieces are interesting in their own right, I would say that “Gomorrah” is the one that really warrants attention, as it plays with mind-bending psychedelia, blasting blasphemy, ambient horrorscapes, and not to mention, a killer headbang rhythm at the beginning, with a hurts-just-right sort of atonality on the guitars that allow the blackness to shine through paradoxically.
In essence, Imperial Triumphant is not putting forth an entirely unique sound, but the way it is played with will certainly earn them some kind of following, particularly among those who find the nihilistic, cavernous bellows of bands like Antediluvian to be the ideal soundtrack for those lonesome Friday nights with Pazuzu. With just enough filth to create the closed-in atmosphere of being smothered by the elephant on the art, yet clean enough to render the various effects and the nuances of the drumming down to its well-controlled double bass, you end up with a black hole of jagged chords, chunky precision drums, and vocals that seem to come from the belly of a fearsome chimærical beast, all totalling up to one tasty extreme metal outing that’s sure to scare your mother.