Terratur Possessions/Barghest (2012)
"My god why have I forsaken me"
The first line from "Holy Metamorphosis" is one that makes me shiver - fingernails cut by my own teeth, the neck stiffens by the thought of loosing myself within a maze of intricate solutions on how to end... ...life itself. How can you live a worthy life when you have forsaken yourself?
"yours is yours and mine are mine"
The closing line of "Stellar Masturbation" is one that make me think that there's more to life than what others think. I may forsake myself, yes, but to focus on me, myself and I is the only solution when it comes to live a life of worth. You do what you do and leave me alone, for I will haunt you, taunt you and reveal all my anger at you if you do not that which is yours, and leave me alone to do mine.
"I had a dream which was not all a dream"
The opening line of the close to 17 minutes epic broadcasts in fact the fulfilment on my own dream. I have often returned to albums that are spread over two CDs, such as Ayreon with the big concept albums, The Flower Kings & Transatlantic along with lengthy albums with playing time clocking in at more than an hour. Deathspell Omega's "Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice" is the prime example. Sticking to black metal, which is the art performed by Dødsengel, there are few albums that pass the hour mark. Most albums are in between 40 and 50 minutes I guess. I'm sure that's what artists think the listeners are able to digest. And when I listen to albums such as "The Red Jewel", "Panzer Division Marduk", "Ordo Ad Chao", "Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk", "The Lawless Darkness" and my second favourite album "Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum" I love them for what they are, but sometimes I think "what if...?". What if Watain's monumental "The Lawless Darkness" were twice as long? Or "Panzer Division Marduk" five times the length?
Theirs is theirs and Dødsengel's is Dødsengel's. 150 minutes of Norwegian black metal like you have never heard before. Never! These 22 tracks make "Imperator" a journey to and through a living Hell. Each track is different from the former and the next, except for the opener and the closer. "XXV" and "XXV" opens and closes the circle. The sound is unmistakably Norwegian. But the music? You have fast parts, loads of mid-paced and slow parts and there are a couple of interludes, if one can call the two minutes acoustic piece "Pneuma: Sidpa Bardo" an interlude. But have you ever heard anything like "Darkness", the mentioned 16.45 minutes epic? The opening is gloomy and the way the band evolves the music from there on is proof of masterminds in work. The guitars are almost out of tune for a few minutes, making the whole thing so eerie that I think it's time to close down the office, lit the candle and remain in the world of Dødsengel for the rest of my life. It's like a dream, but it is not all a dream.
"Imperator" is a concept album, as far as I understand. There are surprises all over the album, such as the opening of "The Serpent's Head". I'm dead sure I've heard that melody before, but never in such a disturbing environment. They close the track "Holy Metamorphosis" with repetitions of the sentence "Let There Be Light!". Well, there is no light. The is no fucking light. "Imperator" is a dead end. It is the end of all joy. And it should be listened from beginning to end, in one take. 150 minutes, yes. But goddamn, I ensure that it is worth it and that you will be rewarded. If you don't live alone, get rid of the better half, send your kids to the caretaker and close the curtains.
And then, repeat. If you have any strength left. I, for one, do not manage more than one listen a day, because this album drains me of all joy. And when it is time for the seventh listen, I'll advice you to rip this onto MP3, bring your high quality headphones, go into the woods and find yourself a solemn place where you sit down and listen for two and a half hours. I'm sure it will talk to you. You will notice the effects and elements that are there in most tracks, elements that reveal themselves only after several journeys.
The elements that lift the album from being a very, very good one to an out-of-this-world journey are the vocals. Varied, haunting, desperate, angry, grim, sad, torturous, mighty, introvert, arrogant and so well crafted. There are even some female vocals, but don't expect the soprano, hah! Listen, weep and cry out in whatever joy you may have left. This is black metal supreme from beginning to end.
I know why I did forsake me. I didn't think there was room left for more Norwegian black metal magic that could surpass legends of old. But Dødsengel have now, in 2012, released an album that will be a part of me for the rest of my life. It is a dream come true. It's is blackness. Its loss of hope is omnipotent. But fear not, because in the beginning it feels like yours is not yours. But eventually you will become one with the creation and you will sit there, in the woods, thinking that Dødsengel's "Imperator" is mine, and mine are mine!
Rating 6 / 6
Composed by Roy Kristensen