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Impious - "Death Domination" (CD)

Impious - "Death Domination" CD cover image

"Death Domination" track listing:

1. Abomination Glorified (2:29)
2. The Demand (2:55)
3. I Am The King (3:07)
4. ...And The Empire Shall Fall (5:30)
5. Dead Awakening (3:33)
6. Hate Killing Project (3:34)
7. Rostov Ripper (4:23)
8. Legions (3:09)
9. As Death Lives In Me (4:18)
10. Irreligious State Of War (3:12)

Reviewed by on March 15, 2010

"If Impious could just develop an entire album that focuses on the strengths of the band, they would have a full album worth listening to."

Impious started playing their brand of Slayer-cum-death-metal back in the mid-1990s, just like all the other Stockholm death metal pioneers. Despite the requisite blast beat and riff mayhem, the band never made it big due to incessant lineup changes and label snafus. Finally signed to a major label in 2004 (Metal Blade), Impious has gained a bit of the notoriety that their brothers in death have been getting for the better part of two decades. Their most recent release, “Death Domination,” is an attempt to return to the core of the death metal sound, and fortunately that return fails to stick completely.

The first three songs on the album are all death metal straight and narrow. Blast beats, growled vocals, laser riffs, and brief bursts of guitar solos - it is all competently written and performed. Impious got some criticism on their previous couple of albums for moving toward the melodic and symphonic styles of their Southwestern death metal cousins. So the initial three song burst on “Death Domination” is a clear statement by Impious that they have left all that nonsense behind and rededicated themselves to the true death metal craft. Even the album title could be seen as a double meaning that signals the band’s return to the fold.

But then “…And The Empire Shall Fall” starts in, and the stance of the first three songs is out the window. Samples, keyboards, studio effects, slow and rumbling drums and bass portend a different future. The blast beats finally come in a minute later, but the groundwork has been set. Throughout the marathon (for Impious) five minute rainbow, melody rules. This is no power metal, or even Dimmu Borgir symphonics, but the differences from the beginning of the album are stark.

So which is more fitting – the stripped down crush of almost atonal death metal, or the flights of melodic death metal fancy? The latter, and by a wide margin. When playing wheelhouse death metal Impious sounds derivative and almost boring, but when that touch of melody is added the depth of sound is increased tenfold.

Fortunately Impious keeps the more melodic formula through some of the rest of the album. While the blast beats and 32nd note extravaganzas maintain their role at the head of the music, it isn’t to the exclusion of the other melodic elements. “Dead Awakening” has a very interesting halting effect in the last half, and “Hate Killing Project” has a couple melodies and breaks that could be called anthemic. But by “As Death Lives In Me” and “Irreligious State of War” Impious is (mostly) back to their bleak death metal sound, and hope is lost.

The criticism of the melody from Impious’ previous two albums seems to be misplaced, if “Death Domination” is any indication. It turns out that Impious has a sense of melody and song craft, and not just a sense of musical brutality. Now if Impious could just develop an entire album that focuses on the strengths of the band, they would have a full album worth listening to.

Highs: “…And the Empire Shall Fall” is a gem of brutality and musicality.

Lows: The strict Stockholm death metal style is tired and boring.

Bottom line: Death metal from Stockholm would benefit from a complete move to Gothenburg melody.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 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)