This band had their genesis in 1998 but didn’t release their debut album until 2011, following a period of extended hiatus and then five years of work on the 10 songs contained within Admire the Cosmos Black. Lord Impaler is a two-man band, but they had some attention-grabbing help from the mighty Hellhammer (Mayhem), who tracked the drums for the album, and from Knut M. Valle(Arcturus), who did the mixing and mastering.
Unlike their better known countrymen in Rotting Christ and Septic Flesh, Lord Impaler have hewed more closely to the thorny path of Nordic black metal (but with some fascinating flourishes). The vocals are flensing, a concentrated blast of glass shards that cut to the bone. The tremolo whirr of the guitars bathes the music in a flood of vitriol. Rapid-fire bass picking thrums low in the gut. And then, there are the drums.
I suppose nothing more really needs to be said about Hellhammer’s legendary capabilities, so I’ll just mention that he rips hell on this album. Absolutely jaw-dropping stuff. Seriously.
But I don’t want to oversimplify this album. Though predominantly vicious and blistering in its approach, it’s also heavily infused with appealing melody, generally delivered by the high-pitched, balalaika-like quality of the lead guitar, but also in more surprising ways, among them:
The mesmerizing piano instrumental in the middle of “Celebrating the Elder Spirits”; the chiming guitar notes that divide the pieces of “Antichristian Hordes”; the beautiful orchestral interlude (with trumpet solo) that makes up “Void”; the well-timed, soaring synthesizer enhancements in “Lord Impaler”; the reverberating, waltz-like guitar arpeggio at the beginning of the epic final track, “Dreamtime Heresy”, and another ringing, near-prog-metal guitar solo (accompanied by beautifully complex drum work from Hellhammer) mid-way through the same song.
The band also pay heed to the importance of dynamics. All is not the rampant headlong charge, the firehose blast of pressurized acid. Led significantly by Hellhammer’s rhythm shifts and style changes, Lord Impaler back off the red-line pacing within songs and create effective juxtapositions from song to song (e.g., the emotionally affecting end of “Lord Impaler” and the scalding intro to “Prometheus”, which immediately follows). You definitely won’t loose interest in a sea of sameness.
Despite the fact that this is a self-financed, self-released album, I’m really surprised it hasn’t drawn more attention. The songs on Admire the Cosmos Black are beautifully-composed, expertly executed at all positions, and they make for a riveting listening experience from start to finish. Highly recommended for fans of icy-hot melodic black metal.
[…] You can buy and download the album via the Bandcamp link, as I did, and if you follow the last link and go to the Media/Sound Files tab, Lord Impaler have made their earlier demos available for free download.