Artist: Nocturnal Blood / Sanguis Imperem
Album Title: Imperial Impurity
Label: Nuclear War Now!
This is a split LP from Nocturnal Blood and Sanguis Imperem, two American bands playing blackened death metal.
The production on both sides of this split is raw and evocative. The drums are in front of the mix on the Nocturnal Blood side. That's only a good thing, because the drumming is one of the best things about this band. The guitars and echoing, effects-drenched vocals are perfectly audible beneath them. Over on the Sanguis Imperem side, the production is a lot heavier on the bass. The pounding drums and audible bass combine with the low, belched vocals to give this one a ton of heft. It's not too much, though, because the cymbals, lead guitars, screamed vocals, and occasional pick slides stand out nicely.
The Nocturnal Blood side of the split contains a ton of morbid atmosphere. Between the repetitive, hypnotic-yet-aggressive riffs and the hollow, bass-heavy drum sound, this band successfully conjures the feel of being in a crumbling mausoleum. The filth-ridden vocals are equally effective, especially during the dual-vocal parts -- the whispered chanting section on "Apocalyptic Rites" is killer! The band also throws in some great slow sections and lead guitar lines, so there's no lack of variety here, and there are even a few parts reminiscent of old Celtic Frost. It's hard to choose the best tracks, as they're all absolutely solid.
The Sanguis Imperem side of the record is heavy as hell. The bassy production is a perfect match for this band's mid-paced, militant songs. The songwriting here is even tighter than on their first EP, also; every moment on the record seems to flow into the next, even through some pretty severe tempo changes. The doomy part in the middle of "Red is the Color of the Gods" is a perfect example: it seems to come out of nowhere, yet slots seamlessly in between the speedy beginning and ending parts. "Tyrants of Iron" is absolutely anthemic, and probably the best song this band has yet written; the elitist shout-along chorus and ideal balance of fast and slow parts should make this a savage live track!
In short, the Imperial Impurity split is just plain excellent -- Sanguis Imperem has got to be one of the best bands playing death metal right now, and this offering from Nocturnal Blood impressed me quite a bit. Anyone who likes their death metal the ancient and intolerant way will be more than pleased with this. Highly recommended.
Standout Tracks: "Abnormalities Prevail", "Apocalyptic Rites", "Tyrants of Iron", "Red is the Color of the Gods"