Controversially, I’ve never got on well with death metal. “Technical” or otherwise, it has always had a distinctly masculine brand of maximalism I’ve never felt able to take seriously, whilst its preference regarding audio quality and production values have been many levels above what I am willing to listen to for metal music of a faster tempo than stoner doom. Indeed, with Vile Luxury, Imperial Triumphant do not in any way distance themselves from at the very least the latter aesthetics, and indeed go further, cramming the record with only the nerdiest influences – prog, jazz, neoclassical – though “blackened” techdeath, this is as un-raw as one could imagine; Carved Cross these guys ain’t.
Much of my preference for black metal, especially of the Australian and Portuguese schools, that routinely exists on the fault line between “raw” and “atmospheric” stems from my historical love of noise and shoegaze, both of which employ overwhelming (if often deceptively simple) methods of sonically conveying a broad spectrum of affects without distracting from the issue by means of trying to “impress” the listener through showboating displays of rehearsed technical skill: guitar solos were, 99% of the time, wholly surplus to requirement. And yet, Vile Luxury‘s “impressiveness,” as it tackles a dystopic, yet all-too-recognizable vision of a New York City, populated by idolatrous psychopathic socialites. Having discussed already at some length black metal’s relation to xenochronic temporality, I shall just briefly note the visual aesthetics, a black-and-gold assemblage of post-modernity and futurism, decopunk, expressionism and invocations of occult Medieval ritual – a language of head-turning juxtaposition, entirely reflected in the bizarre yet wholly compelling implementation of prog, jazz, classical and operatic style, at times reflective of the xenochronic akousmatikoi, not just of fellow avantgarde black metal travelers, but of a variety of experimental musicians, ranging from Frank Zappa to The Sound of Animals Fighting, all of which combine to establish a phenomenal contemporary city symphony, the heady confusion of the glitz and violence in a setting of inimically contemporary in its historical reggresivism, could only be NYC. In true alt fashion, Imperial Triumphant let the abyss stare back, and now emulate that which they despise to lambaste it. Thus, Vile Luxury is, indeed, at times “impressive,” as impressive as the Chrysler or the Flatiron. It’s almost as brutal as what goes on inside, too.