IMHA TARIKAT – Hearts Unchained-At War With a Passionless World (2022)REVIEW

The omnipresent outcry of a long bottled mind, yet unceasing. — Though the proverbial dam had been burst a few years prior we now begin to see the crags, shapes and sediment concentrated beneath the outpouring of desirous freedom found within the work of Germany-borne melodic black metal act Imha Tarikat. Tested, scoured, and now sustaining their channeling of the etheric body by singular will ‘Hearts Unchained – At War With a Passionless World‘ is the reveal of philosophical foundation built beyond a blustering start. It’ll have to represent a claim laid upon a sound which now threatens to solidify itself for the sake of an unbroken connection with like minds. In this sense these works bolster and speak for the inspiration of the individual more than they create new distractions, finally building columnar bracing around unwieldy, overcharged spiritus.

Imha Tarikat was founded in 2015 by way of türkler-deutsche musician Kerem Yilmaz who’d featured in a fairly average melodic death metal band in the early 2010’s before a stint in Ypokosmos, eventually serving as a session bassist for that band’s later-on sole mLP. Influenced by classic melodic black metal and perhaps only a few years of black metal fandom at that point the self-directed character of the individual began to seek the most vital essence of the black metal experience: The eruptive depressurization, or, release of emotion as repressions are defeated in mind. We’ve no choice but to buy into the revelations of the fellowe considering the practicum in effect witnessed between the project’s still formative and introverted debut mLP (‘Kenoboros‘, 2017) and the brilliantly developed, still-resonant debut full-length (‘Kara Ihlas‘, 2019) a transformation achieved in just a few years. This was already an imposing and involved work delivered with the mania of passion in character, a performative extension of the introverted ‘self’ cut open and spilling into view for the first time. In practical terms, it’d been a seemingly sincere bout of existentialist melodious black metal bravado from an unexpected place.

By virtue of an independent vision from Yilmaz each release from the project would necessitate either a session drummer or a different collaboration and this has been the only real point of inconsistency in the band’s discography from my point of view. This seems to have been ironed out with the additional feedback available to live performances circa 2019 and beyond, which’ve all or primarily featured members of Hexer beyond the initial support for Imha Tarikat‘s second full-length (‘Sternenberster‘, 2020) wherein we find a consistent throughway to what ‘Hearts Unchained – At War With a Passionless World‘ brings today. That second record was arguably where most folks began truly paying attention to this still somewhat unknown German band with a strange name, most often comparing their style to Bølzer per the vocal effects used alongside their focus on atypical declarative melodicism. This’d been cemented as the signature focus of the band after two albums and this of course continues with their third. The precedence is especially thick here but we can at least address the issue of lacking variety on previous recordings and suggest that this is the first record from the band which is overflowing with ideas rather than simply bursting with the energy of a sun liberated from its orbiting bodies.

If you’ll allow some manner of pointless categorization on my part the three stage vision of Imha Tarikat seems to have begun with a record entirely for the sake of the liberation of the self, a second record set to convince the colosseum (the German metal sphere) of combat worthiness, and a third record to test the global impact of the core ideal. I suggest this odd marketing burnt point of view for the sake of the lyric language used deciding who the artist connects with per these diarized and surreal writ revelations of the self-spiritual. The choice to sing fully in English here speaks to a broadening focus, an ambition to expand while their sound is still novel and the inspiration palpable. Naturally, where I believe ‘Hearts Unchained – At War With a Passionless World‘ hits best with a general audience is in the absolute fervor of Yilmaz‘ echo-ridden vocals which are pulpit shouted and chasm-resonant in a way you’ll likewise find in the secondary vocal performances on Jade‘s debut from last month, thought these are not as obscured by reverb and generally act as the main directive of each piece. On that same current, where many will fall off the experience is in the lack of cadence available beyond a few brightest ideas found up front on the recording. Without any evolution or freshened details to spark interest in this primary exposition on Side B this ~50 minute record leans into the sort of currency expected, rhythmic variations from post-punk (“Streams of Power – Canavar”) to ethereally rocking arena-sized charm otherwise. Without getting too far ahead of myself, the full listen does threaten to fade in profundity as it progresses though captivation doesn’t ever fully droop away from interest.

A condemnation in truth. — A spirited, differently melodic black metal album in service to inspiration and emotional outburst would be inherently valuable compared to the typical, plainest participation available today if the standard weren’t already so high for melodicism in extreme metal. Within a few years of study many musicians today prove themselves capable of creating very popular works of seemingly AI generated melodic black metal tropes. The average human mind, the blood squeezed into popular music, rarely values anything more than the result and without discernment we are most often left to machine-like artistic generation for effect. The argument I’d build here for the sake of Imha Tarikat is that the artist may very well be churning out these records at an intense rate but each comes with serious consideration for themes, with lyrics of self-examination unto liberating work, and with guitar work that doesn’t entirely scrub itself with outright trendiness. The embodiment of character is key to their success in some respect, a feat which appears conjured from a drainage of the self into admitted periods of performative madness for the sake of creation. We find the results of these efforts quickly recognizable and testified upon when stepping into the first of eight ~six minute pieces, “Radical Righteousness”, an early peaking primal exhale.

The thesis proposed and philosophy explored up front is inherently Luciferian in concept but not stated expressly, or, necessarily intended as such. Yilmaz again represents himself by way of the avatar Ruhsuz Cellât (“the soulless executioner”) but this time appears even less concerned with esoteric interpretation of his developing mindset and now conveys some practical exposition of personal philosophy in slightly less veiled terms. As an avid lyric reader and prose lover I cannot necessarily suggest this work transitions from student to teacher, or needs to, but rather suggests the lifetime student in the midst of actualization per resolve testing life experience. Determine meaning however you see fit, of course, as it will evolve over the course of the full listen with several more subjects breached. As we move onto the first third of “Touch of Mercy”, a glide into view which has more in common with progressive death metal than classic black metal melodicism to start, some comparisons to the similar station of Uada are potentially warranted but the piece itself finally takes the much needed Sacramentum-lite turn ~3:42 minutes in to still the mind of anyone frantically seeking substantive guitar work at the onset of this album. The effect is psychedelic, distractive, and entirely pleasant beyond the confrontational nature of the vocals. “Brute Majesty” cues us into what Imha Tarikat do best, threading a full album together with songs that begin in response to the previous song and lead into a new thread explored on the next. This time around they do so without setting an obvious motif to bookend each piece and reuse similar chord progressions or guitar hooks in variation as often. Otherwise the body beneath the beast is not overtly technical, complex or especially brutal but instead entirely focused on creating a sense of motion with a largely consonant set of run-on rhythmic phrases and, in the case of “Brute Majesty”, some impressive directive lead guitars.

By doing away with some of the constancy of focus (read: repetition of ideas) found on the two prior records we’re left with a longplayer which is richly fluid and even more digestible in its larger dynamic strand yet one which also categorizes its best ideas in descending order. Don’t get me wrong, this is not uniformly true with “Flood of Love (The Beast Trigger)” being the excellent conclusion to the greater design of Side A and “Stardust Wisdom (Manifest of the Deity to the Unkeen” being a major point of interest deeply cut into the second half, but the energy and inventive spirit of the band begins to exhaust of its impact well before the nearly hourlong experience has ended. The middle interlude and “Streams of Power – Canavar” (the Alchemist comparisons should really hold some water now, eh) are interesting enough interruptions to the full listen but only serve to extend an album already bulked-out with interest. Things only seem to get louder, more chaotic and desperate as the album proceeds and I’m not sure it hits with as much commanding force as “Beast of Sovereignty” intended, it instead reads as rushed disarray.

Not being an automaton tasked with regurgitation, I of course see the light irony in time spent picking apart a work which touts passionate embrace of existence down to its entrails. In this case some choices in exploration appear unrelated or half-measured in execution, and this break away from the vitality Imha Tarikat leads with, stops well short of their potential as an inspiring vessel. There is such palpable invigoration and purpose set into the first half of the album that it will sustain most listeners well enough, this is as great as any band needs to be to have a bit of a moment with an attentive ear, yet the second chapter of the experience moderately underwhelms in the fallout. The novelty of sound available and the intense personal meaning conveyed, a sense of earnest engagement with one’s purpose at the very least, allows ‘Hearts Unchained – At War With a Passionless World‘ to stand out and leave a much needed dent in the psyche. Though I cannot be sure how built-to-last it will prove within their already ambitious discography, I can still heartily recommend it. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (79/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Hearts Unchained: At War With a Passionless World
LABEL(S):Lupus Lounge,
Prophecy Productions
RELEASE DATE:December 2nd, 2022

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