The 5th full length and first album in ten years from New York death metal veterans, Internal Bleeding, reunites drummer Bill Tolley with guitarists Brian Hobbie and Chris Pervelis. The three are back together for the first time since 1999’s Driven To Conquer. Tolley was the only original member of the band to play on the band’s last record, Onward To Mecca. Internal Bleeding also added new bassist Jason Liff and ex-Catastrophic vocalist Keith DeVito to the classic lineup. Both new members add a lot to what is a very solid new record.
Imperium is what I would consider ultra groovy death metal from a band that coined the term slam death metal back in the 90’s. This album is an absolute MUST for those that enjoy slower, catchy tunes. If you prefer more blast beat driven death metal, the album may not be exactly what you were hoping for. Don’t worry. Every song features at least a small share of fast sections. In my opinion, this album walks the line between death metal and straight groove metal better than almost any other album that I have heard before. It’s a record that should appeal to both die hard death metal followers and fans of more mainstream forms of extreme metal and hardcore.
With all that said, the album definitely leans more to the groove side of things. I would say that at least 75% of each song is heavily guided by excellent catchy riffs and bass lines and methodical double bass drumming. The 25% dedicated to speedy drumming and riffs is also very good but the heavy grooves are where the album really shines. Imperium is pit inducing death metal for sure.
Although the fast pieces are solid, there are certain instances where they feel a bit off kilter and don’t mesh as well with the overall song. Most of the time this is due to the fact that the drumming seems to be one step behind the rest of the band. “The Visitant”, “Placate the Ancients” and “(In the) Absence of Soul” will give you the best examples of what I am referring to. This isn’t really a huge deal as the the main breadth of each of these tracks is still awesome.
There are plenty of places where the fast and slow meld together perfectly well. This is most evident on tracks four through six. Here is where the album takes more of a conceptual turn. “Patterns of Force – Act 1 – The Discovery”, “Patterns of Force – Act 2 – Plague Agenda” and “Patterns of Force – Act 3 – Aftermath” have smoothly blended pacing both within each song and flowing between each track. It’s almost like these songs were recorded separately or at a different period in time from the others. They were definitely my top three song picks from the album so it had me wondering why they didn’t make an entire concept album. It seems a bit strange to just throw this in the middle of an album where the rest of the songs don’t play the same way but then again I really shouldn’t complain about really good metal no matter how or when it comes. Beyond these, other gold standards include “Fabricating Bliss” and “Castigo Corpus Meum”.
Damn, for the most part the latest record from Internal Bleeding is really excellent. I would love to have gotten a few more guitar solos, as I believe there are only three featured on the album, but the ones the band does provide are exceptional. Also, I was hoping for more than nine tracks. Come on guys! It’s been ten years since the last album, there must have been more material than that. Other than that, Imperium is well crafted and well executed slam death metal. This is the kind of material that pit masters absolutely crave. I would relish the opportunity to witness the type of physical reactions that the album is capable of evoking at a live show. The grooves are second to none. This is an album that will give many a great excuse to bounce their head in their cars, homes and public places for the forseeable future. Does that mean that Imperium is the best death metal album of 2014? No, but it could definitely be the catchiest and most memorable one in quite some time.
Imperium will be released on September 30, 2014 via Unique Leader Records. Take a listen when you get a chance and sound off with your opinion in our comments section.