Imperium Dekadenz hail from the Black Forest region in southwestern Germany, bringing you a very clear case of DO judge a book by its cover. Their particular form of black metal is slow, foreboding, ominous, and all about mood. In short, it’s gray. Those seeking a boatload of riffs and blast beats will not find them on Procella Vadens, the band’s third full length. However, fans which revel getting lost in a vast sea of brooding blackness will find much to enjoy here, and more with each listen.
The sound offered by Imperium Dekadenz is anchored by huge, simplistic riffs which act to pull and release the listener within each musical phrase. Many of these are tremolo picked, but because the music rarely exceeds 120 beats per minute, they come across far less like the onslaught of Marduk and much more like mid-paced, earlier Deathspell Omega (with a hint of deconstructed and expanded folk melody; just a hint). Both vocals and drums fall in the “typical yet effective” category, resembling much that you’ve likely heard but in no way detracting from the success of each song. The drum mix is bright and clear, helping the music sound like the product of an actual band, as opposed to a wall of sound. While this method can be very effective, the pieces here are far too expansive and vast for such a style.
The songs on Procella Vadens predominantly fall in the five to seven minute range, with the album being anchored by two long epics. The first is the 10 minute-plus “A Million Moons,” a largely single-minded song that finds a key point of variety with a softer, less imposing passage in the middle. The second is the gorgeous “An Autumn Serenade.” Beginning subtly with piano and a driving wash of repeated riffs, the song truly shows its worth with a moving tremolo melody at about the 2:30 minutes mark, a melody which only becomes more effective when repeated with harmony. Each subsequent section of the song (including another light-flavored softer part) serves to lead the listener back to this melody, a particularly skilled bit of detail which pushes the song from merely good to the best of a quality album. The shifts in mood are further employed in the album’s non-metal tracks. Too long to be considered simple interludes, each reigns in the desperate atmosphere of the black metal with major chords played on acoustic guitars, string-resembling keys, and some nice female vocals on the beautiful “The Descent Into Hades.”
While the other songs on Procella Vadens do not equal the quality of “An Autumn Serenade,” overall Imperium Dekadenz finds great success. Some listeners may be turned off by the nearly 15 minutes of non-metal tracks, but repeated listens should emphasize their importance to the album’s flow. This brings me to one more point about the cover art. Much of the album will attempt to push you over the edge, but the hidden serenity acts as hands to hold you back. The result is an emotionally complex album that doesn’t act like one, and a quality slab of somber black metal that can be recommended to any fan of the style.