The Roman Empire’s impact on history is monumental, influencing everything from languages, culture, religion, inventions, architecture, philosophy, law and forms of government; not to mention the emperors that led the wars, rebellion and assassinations. This whole period has a mass of storylines and possible concepts for art. German band Imperium Dekadenz use the Roman Empire as a basis for their fifth album Dis Manibvs.
Consistent with some of the artwork of that time, Imperium Dekadenz have a majestic quality to their sound, while its very much a black metal record, it is produced with grandiosity, yet avoids common symphonic trappings of the genre. The album starts in a promising manner through ‘In Todesbanden’, with a pleasant acoustic guitar backdrop, it’s cinematic in scope with an almost ‘Last of the Mohicans’ type feel and a whispery native language underneath. Second track ‘Only Fragments of Light’ builds into a Kvelertak stomp and roll attack after some deliberate moments of shoegaze, the energy is high at this point and exciting. Sonically this has more in common with a band such as Deafheaven than traditional black metal, and this is predominantly due to the style of guitar work.
The drum tones on Dis Manibvs are impressive, but after a few songs become rather formulaic; and that is not the only element that starts to feel repetitive, by ‘Vae Victis’ most of the ideas have been presented, and they are based on a strong rhythm section, lovely production and a heavily cinematic framework, which includes layers of atmospheric keyboard sections throughout. The problem is that as a black metal release, it does not feel aggressive enough, these songs have possibly been polished too much and lost their edge. The interlude ‘Panthenon Spells’ incorporates more whispered vocal elements with a mournful melody that probably should have been made into a centrepiece track, similarly closing track ‘Seikilos’ is a very strong song, but after 60 plus minutes, it almost feels wasted.
If you are into grand conceptual black metal releases that are produced in a manner that eliminates all imperfections, then this should be your album of the year. But with such an ominous period to draw from in The Roman Empire: Imperium Dekadenz does not replicate its power.
01. In Todesbanden
02. Only Fragments Of Light
03. Still I Rise
04. Dis Manibvs
05. Pantheon Spells
06. Vae Victis
09. Pure Nocturnal Rome