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Imperial Vengeance - "At The Going Down Of The Sun" (CD)

Imperial Vengeance - "At The Going Down Of The Sun" CD cover image

"At The Going Down Of The Sun" track listing:

1. The Drop (1:44)
2. 6th Airborne Division (5:07)
3. Aristocratic Sex Magick (7:04)
4. Unto That End (5:37)
5. At The Going Down Of The Sun (6:22)
6. From Childhood's Hour (2:45)
7. Cwn Anwwn (6:54)
8. Jus Ad Belum (6:24)
9. Theory Of The Grotesque (7:35)
10. Trinovantes (10:33)

Reviewed by on August 25, 2009

"Hedger’s time with Cradle Of Filth wears off on the album from time to time, but Imperial Vengeance proves to be a unique entity effective in creating a solemn atmosphere fueled by passionate musicianship."

Imperial Vengeance is a symphonic black/death metal side project of Cradle Of Filth guitarist Charles Hedger, who uses the alias Mr. Charles Edward-Alexander. Performing all the vocal, guitar, and orchestration tracks himself, he is joined by bassist Mr. David Bryan and drummer Mr. William Drury. The band takes a look at late 19th/early 20th century British history on their debut album, “At The Going Down Of The Sun.” Hedger’s time with Cradle Of Filth wears off on the album from time to time, but Imperial Vengeance proves to be a unique entity effective in creating a solemn atmosphere fueled by passionate musicianship.

The lyrics, written entirely by Bryan, gives the listener a wealth of information, including a look at the horrors of the War To End All Wars aka World War I. Each song has its own concept built upon by the sprawling musical compositions. With the exception of two instrumentals, not one track is under the five-minute mark, giving Imperial Vengeance space to push themselves creatively, not sticking to any kind of pre-determined path.

A big part of this has to do with the phenomenal keyboard and orchestration work employed by Hedger. The former is a key element that advances a good portion of the album’s melodies, with the piano sound used to add a classical touch, while the latter acts as a mood enhancer, usually in a foreboding or depressing manner. The keys aren’t a gimmick though, as some contemporary symphonic bands tend to use them; they serve a purpose that benefits the album as a whole, not just to pad out time.

While the blueprint of Imperial Vengeance is based on extreme death/black metal with symphonic tendencies, each song has a defining quality that aims for a lasting impression. From the jazzy piano work on “Unto That End” to the title track’s haunting narration by Harry Patch, who was the last surviving British trench solder from World War I until his death late in July, surprises lie around each corner. The album clocks in at a little over an hour, yet there isn’t much filler to be found, which is helped by the variety on display.

“At The Going Down Of The Sun” is an album that stays consistent from start to finish, bolstered by the strong musicianship each band member brings to the table. The beautiful acoustic guitar work on “Trinovantes” and sweeping lead work on “Cwn Anwwn” stand side-by-side with the buzz-saw riffs and speedy tremolo picking. The harsh shrieks suit the music well, though the flat attempt at clean vocals was ill-advised.

With Hedger doing the majority of the instrumental work, and Bryan handling the lyrical content, Imperial Vengeance is the true definition of a collaborative effort, one that shines on “At The Going Down Of The Sun.” The band sounds familiar to those well-versed in the genre, but the melodic tendencies aren’t forced, which is the problem that many modern bands seem to have. Imperial Vengeance has created a great debut album that easily overshadows Hedger’s work in Cradle Of Filth and poises a promising start to what will hopefully evolve into a successful long-term venture.

Highs: Great keyboard and orchestration work, epic songwriting, intriguing lyrics based on British history, leveled balance of chaos and calmness.

Lows: Disappointing clean vocals, bombastic at times.

Bottom line: A strong debut album that is bolstered by stellar musicianship and non-linear songwriting.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)