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Saturday, November 14, 2009

CD Review: Impious - Death Damnation

Impious - Death Damnation
2009 Metal Blade Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

A fair number of folks took exception to Swedish death-thrashers Impious in 2004 and their parameters-stretching Hellucinate. For this writer's purposes, Impious' Metal Blade debut of 2004 actually finished high in the year end best list because of those parameter stretches.

Not that Hellucinate drifted too far away from their Vader-esque, blast beat-engaged modes of unrelenting ferocity, but Impious has made their name on the shoulders of tumultuous thrash designed to send the weak scurrying for cover. Past full-lengths such as Evilized, The Killer and The Deathsquad relent little to no respite in their brutal frontal assaults. That being said, yes, Hellucinate was a bit of a shock--and a good one, depending on who you ask.

While longtime fans have questioned what direction Impious would be heading into 2009 after Hellucinate and their 2007-released Holy Murder Masquerade opened expansive possibilities to their merciless anchors of chaos, consider those anchors dropped back into past territories with their latest offering Death Damnation.

Sure, Impious still tries out a few rhythm slowdowns and synthesizer sprinklings, but otherwise, Death Damnation is a back-to-basics donkey punch for these guys. On the one hand, Impious' established league will be pleased as hell that Death Damnation is loud, rude and full of chunky infernos. On the other hand, Impious showed a lot of creative promise on their previous two albums it's a minor letdown they opted to throw much of their dabbling out the door this time around.

Death Damnation is undeniably heavy and there's plenty of ear-candy guitar solos and brisk strumming courtesy of Robin Sorqvist and Valle Adzic found on "Dead Awakening," "Irreligous State of War," "Legions" and "Death Lives in Me." Their riffs are meatier, their execution only finessed when called for; otherwise the distortion grooves match the vocals and the drum patterns: utterly nasty.

The album does move rather fluidly even with manic beat changes by Mikael Noren ranging from double-timed mosh to singular brisk march to bpm cycles that are off the chart. Noren's insane tom rolls on "Hate Killing Project" helps make it one of the meanest cuts on Death Damnation, while Martin Akesson (once a guitarist in this band, if you'll recall) woofs with such tenacity you can picture his jugular on the brink of splitting open and geysering out.

"Rostov Ripper" is one of the more artistic cuts on the album with echoing keys accenting the blatting tempos and whirlwind guitar lines. A few brief time signatures trick the listener even as "Rostov Ripper" largely stays on a constant death stride before slipping into a rhyhtmic instrumental grind with voiceover samples.

Nonetheless, Death Damnation is largely dumped of the esoteric craftiness of Hellucinate as Impious focuses less on atmosphere and back on absuive furrows of chum coursing at reckless speed. This one is unapologetically ugly.

Rating: ***1/2


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