"some music was meant to stay underground..."

70000 Tons of Metal - The World's Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise

Aquila - "Imperium" (CD)

Aquila - "Imperium" CD cover image

"Imperium" track listing:

1. Imperium
2. In Our Darkness
3. Within These Flames
4. Kill Or Be Killed
5. Never To Awake
6. Vae Victus
7. Suffer And Solitude
8. No Forgiveness
9. Breathing Fire, Breathing Life
10. Bound For Glory

Reviewed by on May 12, 2010

"here are plenty of great guitar solos and fills on this album, with the ones in 'Bound For Glory' and 'Within These Flames' especially standing out."

Remember the days when metalcore came across like a breath of fresh air, blending melodic thrash-influenced riffs and hardcore, throat-tearing vocals? Aquila's "Imperium" will bring you back to the days of early Killswitch and Shadows Fall, with an extra helping of rhythmic heft to keep things interesting.

This Canadian band has chops to spare. Guitarists Anthony Rimac and Matt Shelson tear it up on tracks like the punk-influenced "No Forgiveness," which then gives way to a melodic part featuring female guest vocalist Cerah Steele. There are plenty of great guitar solos and fills on this album, with the ones in "Bound For Glory" and "Within These Flames" especially standing out. The ax-men also show off a softer style in the opener, "Imperium," and, especially, the knockout acoustic instrumental "Vae Victus."

But, as great as their riffing is, Rimac and Shelson's greatest talent might lie in knowing when to get out of the way of Matt McGuire's drums. Take, for example, the light-speed thrasher "Suffer And Solitude," in which McGuire's drums often seem to be the lead instrument.

Commenting on Mark Arruda's vocals is a little more difficult, simply because an army of guest vocalists are featured on the disc. Generally, though, the vocals are more than serviceable, with the melodic portion of "No Forgiveness" especially standing out.

On the down side, there are a couple of tracks — as there often are on this kind of album — that come a little too close to cacophony. "Breathing Fire, Breathing Life" is the biggest offender in this regard. Also, Chase Bryant's bass part is largely buried in the mix, though he has a great moment in the sun in "Bound For Glory."

Aquila's "Imperium" brings the fury back to metalcore, creating an album full of aggressive vocals and face-melting riffs and solos. "Imperium" is a mostly great debut from a band that's hopefully on its way to even greater heights.

Highs: "No Forgiveness," "Bound For Glory" and "Vae Victus."

Lows: "Breathing Fire, Breathing Life" a little to cacophonous, plus a little more bass would be nice.

Bottom line: A mostly great debut album that brings back the early fury of metalcore.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 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)