Black metal from the black forest. It’s been several years since we last wallowed in the verdant ‘Meadows Of Nostalgia’ but we were never going to forget about Imperium Dekadenz despite the wait and fact that they are unfortunately not an outfit known for much in the way of live shows outside of Germany. The core duo of Vespasian and Horaz have released a steady output since they formed in 2004 and this is their fifth album. As their music has always portrayed a great depth of maturity and passion it’s always intriguing to hear what they are going to deliver next and ‘Dis Manibvs,’ a musical tribute to the spirits of the dead dating back to grave markers in Roman times is no exception to that rule.
After a mood setting instrumental intro we plunder lands that were unsuccessfully usurped by Roman invaders held off by Celtic and Germanic tribes. You can feel the spirits of the fallen whispering here as we are eased in to the frenzied clamour of battle in ‘Only Fragments of Light.’ It’s a majestic and swaggering track with an excellent melodic thrust to it that is reminiscent of the likes of Summoning with the rugged tempo of Norse bands such as Kampfar summoning the hungry blood lust. Vocals rasp and heighten the venom and it has a real pounding and jubilant charge behind it. Slowing down a sense of sorrow and longing are conveyed and the atmospheres are dreamy in nostalgic feel with a real sense of history behind them. As backing clean vocals chant along it’s strongly reminiscent of our own Winterfylleth and Wodensthrone although this is something stylistically the Germans were doing long before they were conceived. Many of the songs are lengthy here but do not feel drawn out in the slightest nor does the albums hour of playing time. It allows you to lose yourself within it and soak up its emotions, coming back to it later the memorable strength behind the numbers such as the determined march of ‘Still I Rise’ are already embedded in your consciousness. Some throat shredding yells here mould it together with grit and give the impression that we are listening to an army that despite being outnumbered will defend their homeland to the very last gasp. Pace wise things flow perfectly from steely charges to slower sombre parts, the title track being a prime example literally cleaved straight down the centre by the disparate emotions and the overriding epic feel of things are steadfast and flowing with might.
As you would expect from a track called ‘Vae Victis’ the band pick things up after the gentle ghostly walk through the forest that is ‘Pantheon Spells’ and romp away taking us on a jaunty ride with pummelling drums and melodically strumming guitar giddily weaving away. Flames burn and crackle and one has to wonder if we have been thrust into Pompeii as ‘Volcano’ literally explodes in a furious volatile, molten mass. Historical placement aside the sudden clean choral part sends shivers down the spine and this one is a particularly blazing track and if I were forced to pick a favourite on the album it would probably be this. ‘Somnia’ gives a breather via some gorgeous acoustic fretwork before empires are set to crumble with what one could have expected to be closer ‘Pure Nocturnal Rome’ a gritty fight to the finish. Seiklos seems at odds until a quick bit of research shows that it derives from ancient Greece and “is the oldest surviving example of a complete musical composition, including musical notation, from anywhere in the world.” If its melody seems reminiscent that is why and the message that ‘death is certain, life is not’ is as old as time itself.
I am all too aware there have been a silly amount of high marks of late and don’t know what is going on. I can’t fail but bestow yet another here as ‘Dis Manibvs’ illustrates a work of great wealth and achievement and Imperium Dekadenz have again proven that although not a household name they are a black metal band that simply cannot be overlooked.
(9/10 Pete Woods)