Sunday Old School: Black Metal History Month Part 4 - Impaled Nazarene
Black Metal History Month has returned for a fourth installment! This year will see our special time analyze some of the roots of the genre, as well as some of the bleakest and obscene bands to fly the flag of darkness.
As we saw in last week’s Sunday Old School covering Marduk, Norway was not the only Scandinavian country contributing significantly to the black metal scene, though it is no doubt still considered the home of the genre. Yet, Norway and Sweden were not alone, as the Swedes other neighbours were also about to launch their own scene, one which was given greater attention thanks to a particular band from the city of Oulu. A band by the striking name of, Impaled Nazarene.
The group was formed twenty five years ago by vocalist and sole constant member, Mika Luttinen, guitarists, Ari Holappa and Mika Pääkkö, bass player, Harri Halonen and drummer, Kimmo "Sir" Luttinen, the brother of frontman, Mika. They were forged with a fierce sense of independence and aggression, evidenced by their ambition to stand out from what other Scandinavian bands were doing. Whilst bands from Sweden such as Marduk were welcomed into the black metal scene in Norway, Impaled Nazarene became known for their hatred of it, though they would eventually bury the hatchet in the frost, with Luttinen claiming that he made peace with Mayhem guitarist, Euronymous before his murder.
Music was rightly more important to the band than feuds however and after two demos, "Shemhamforash" and "Taog eht fo Htao Eht," both released in 1991, they brought their music to a slightly wider audience with their first EP, "Goat Perversion" in 1992. That same year, the group released their debut full length album, "Tol Cormt Norz Norz Norz," which featured seventeen tracks, though most of the tracks didn’t last longer than two minutes, perhaps showing off the influence that grindcore had upon the band. It was received warmly by fans of the genre who felt that while it didn’t hold the same prestige as some of Darkthrone or Mayhem’s works, it has a place in the collection of black metal fans.
Only a year later, Impaled Nazarene released their second full length album, "Ugra-Karma," it’s name deriving from the Sanskrit language meaning a bad action. It originally featured striking artwork by Madame Koslovsky, but after the label was sued for using the painting without permission, the cover was changed to a more dystopian image. It was also received better by listeners, with many fans recommending the album as the best starting point to check the band out and many pointing to it as one of the best albums from the Finnish black metal scene. It was also around this time that the band stopped wearing corpse paint, claiming that it had become a trend rather than a statement.
For the third year running, the band released a full length album, this time entitled, "Suomi Finland Perkele," with "Perkele" being swear words in Finnish, taking its name from the god of the Sky, from the alternative moniker of Ukko in Finnish mythology. It was another good album favoured by fans, allowing the band to become one of the better known extreme bands in their home country after two solid albums in a row. Two years later, a fourth album, "Latex Cult" was released, which spawned a music video for the song, "1999: Karmakeddon Warriors," which was even released as a home video. It didn't receive the acclaim of its two predecessors but was still met with a relatively positive response.
Fan and critical response was however more forthcoming with their next album, "Rapture," which was let loose in 1998 and led some to claim that it was the record that established Impaled Nazarene as an important and memorable black metal act. Some tracks such as "Angel Rectums Do Bleed," were considered to be more or less punk songs just with black metal vocals, whilst others such as “We’re Satan’s Generation” were a lot more thrash orientated.
Two years later, they released the more polished effort, "Nihil," described as some as an extreme meeting point between thrash metal and Iron Maiden. It was also notable for the group bringing in Children of Bodom mainman, Alexi Laiho, who the band claim was a crucial member at that point, helping bring Impaled Nazarene away from the punk direction it had begun to approach and back towards metal. Though Laiho would not remain part of the band for long, the momentum "Nihil" had kickstarted allowed them to record and release another album, "Absence of War Does Not Mean Peace" the next year. It continued to embellish the melodic qualities of the previous album as well as enhance the thrash aspects and once again garnered a positive reception. It also crafted a music video for the song, "Hardboiled and Still Hellbound," which featured Finnish porn actress Rakel Liekki, a suitable partnership since the band had so many sexually charged song titles.
Tragedy was soon to strike though, as the band’s guitarist, Teemu "Somnium" Raimoranta passed away after falling off a bridge whilst drunk in 2003. The song, "Suffer in Silence," from their next album, "All That You Fear," released that same year, was dedicated to his memory. It again was considered decent, but overshadowed by the 2006 effort, "Pro Patria Finlandia," which was something of a hit in Japan. It’s front image of a bloodstained Finnish flag before a bleak forest representing perfectly their mix of black metal with their sense of nationalism, a flag they would metaphorically fly proudly when the success of the album allowed them to tour with more well known acts such as Cannibal Corpse.
Once more, momentum gained meant they would release another album, "Manifest" a year after their previous full length, which reviews almost as good as "Pro Patria Finlandia." However it was to be another three years before their next album, "Road to the Octagon" was released, thanks in part to the increased promotion they had been doing for the last two albums. It was their first album as a quartet for a while after long serving member Jarno Antilla left, though he did contribute to the writing process. This was perhaps why some fans considered it to be their weakest album, at least in terms of song quality, for a while, though it still was by no means considered a bad record all in all and the front cover image of a street where the lights are decorated by hung corpses was truly the stuff of nightmares.
Four years would pass before their next album, "Vigorous and Liberating Death," was released, marking the longest gap between Impaled Nazarene albums to date. It was another solid album and was more political than many of their earlier efforts, focusing on the perceived view that freedom of speech was being eradicated and the poor economies of both their country and continent. Though it was only released ten months ago, fans will no doubt be hoping that they don’t have to wait another four years for the next chaotic, perverse offering from these Finnish masters of the macabre and when it arrives, it will no doubt be sheer brutality, it will no doubt be good and it will no doubt be Impaled Nazarene.
Impaled Nazarene - "Body - Mind - Soul"
Impaled Nazarene - "Soul Rape"
Impaled Nazarene - "Total War - Winter War"
Impaled Nazarene - "Karmakeddon Warriors"
Impaled Nazarene - "Penis Et Circes"
Impaled Nazarene - "Hardboiled And Still Hellbound"
Impaled Nazarene - "Armageddon Death Squad"
Impaled Nazarene - "Weapons To Tame A Land"
Impaled Nazarene - "Enlightenment Process"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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