IMPRECATION – In Nomine Diaboli (2022)REVIEW

Death’s pulse feeds the irredeemable legions to the advocate at the skewered core. — Formed in 1991 with Satanic death metal in mind Imprecation are one of many bands who’d gotten a deep underground start during the primal age of death metal’s peaking subcultural valuation but only truly benefitted from it about ten years after they’d long split-up and gone their separate ways. Theirs is what should be considered a regional yet relatively universal style of ‘old school’-spawned yet ever-maturing death metal which brings its own signature sense of movement and menace into each record. There is no linear pathway to damnation in their hands, as evidenced by several members excellent contributions to (true) USBM over the last several decades, and in this sense the third full-length, ‘In Nomine Diaboli‘, from the Houston, Texas-area crew manifests as representative yet adaptive in its writhe, more than just another death metal record in a timeless style but a wrathful predator among countless lost sheep.

You can catch up on the early history and post-2009 reunion releases of the band in my review of their second album (‘Damnatio Ad Bestias‘, 2019) though the plainest truth of Imprecation is most clearly found within their last thirteen years of dedication to true underground blasphemic extreme metal, which is exclusively limited to the early days of bestial brutality of United States death metal as it matured out of its thrash metal adjacency (but not limited to coastal scenes) and into purity as second and third generations would arise. Before their reunion I’d lumped these guys in with Lethal Prayer, Goreaphobia and Blaspherian as a group of somewhat underrated (before 2009, mind you) occasionally blackened, traditional yet eccentric, righteously blasphemic death metal bands that’d never been given (or in some cases, taken) a real dig at it. They’ve made my Best of the Year list with each of their full-lengths since and not only for the sake of classicist taste made into timeless dechristianization but for the brutal conviction they consistently bring, a tough thing to objectively gauge but a trait which discerning extreme metal fans innately understand.

It’ll be impossible to dive much deeper into description of what makes Imprecation notable without attempting to eulogize drummer/keyboardist Ruben Elizondo whose frantic blasts and irrational hammering on the kit were a big draw for the band from the start and not to mention his songwriting, which has been prominent throughout their discography. ‘In Nomine Diaboli‘ will unfortunately be his last performance but a fittingly obsessed one, aggressively following-up the chugging heft of ‘Damnatio Ad Bestias‘ with a record that is doubly bestial in motion, a violent and often unpredictable record which not only picks up the pace but pulls in some of the more signature ideas from their earliest material including a return of more prominent keyboards, wailing divebombed leads, and some of their best ‘Abominations of Desolation‘-edged riff terror since ‘Satanae Tenebris Infinita‘. Therein lies the conundrum of the bigger-picture observation, though, since Imprecation are repping some of their best material here on this third album. Though they’ll continue in the future do just fine an era will end here and, thankfully on a high note.

Beyond hearing a bit more Acheron-era Mike Browning influence on their sound, an uptick in rabid “bestial” death metal rhythmic push and appreciating the fiery, always shifting pacing of the record I don’t have any particularly deep thoughts on ‘In Nomine Diaboli‘. I found myself consistently impressed with the presence of the drums, the dynamic array of guitar tones in combination and their interplay with the keyboards when they cropped up, when all of these elements fire off together I couldn’t help but appreciate how different this record is compared to the previous album while still managing to be an ideal representation of their sound. Each of those suggested virtues engage on the well-picked first single/music video, “Bringer of Sickness“, as it was the first piece that’d really taken a stab at my ear in terms of packing the horrifying essence of the band into one ~four minute death metal song. The way they layered Dave Herrera‘s vocals into phrase kicks the effect of the song over the top for me. The main reason it’d taken a few songs to warm up to the record wasn’t for lack of anything but for the relentless, brutal whipping-forth of the record right from the start, at least until “Ars Goetia” pulls the brake for its pit-worthy intro. The full listen overwhelms and overtakes in the best possible way.

All-or-nothing is not. — Thrashing riffs characterize “Black Communion”, a mid-paced gallery of unpredictable riff and rhythm helps “Thorns of Hate” stand out in a good way, and “Stigmata Wounds” kinda does both even better while also throwing in a cold-ass keyboard intro to start. The gist of it is that the rest of ‘In Nomine Diaboli‘ generally smokes, doing everything but keeping their heads down in terms of showing quite a bit of personality beyond the expected riff-obssessed death metal roll; Though it is a relatively simple song compared to some of their shorter, more compacted idea trains closer “No Kingdom Awaits (Let Us Prey)” makes a grand exit, echoing earlier musical motif to start and burning their way through the end. This’d initially felt inferior or redundant of the effect which “Stigmata Wounds” produced but I’d eventually found the two songs complimented each other in succession and helped to make more of a feature out of Side B, which needed to be bigger than the first half in some way. It took a few listens, I had to wheel through their prior discography a bit, but I eventually found this record to be one of Imprecation‘s best overall full-lengths for my own taste. ‘Satanae Tenebris Infinita‘ stands out as the obsession at the point of revival in my mind and the Phil Westmoreland riffs on the first demo still represent the key primordial statement I’m interested in overall but this is a fantastic point of fitness for the bands discography, a new high. A very high recommendation is warranted.

Very high recommendation. (85/100)

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.
TITLE:In Nomine Diaboli
LABEL(S):Dark Descent Records
RELEASE DATE:October 14th, 2022

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