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  • Reviewed by Faye Coulman

LIVE REVIEW: Imperium Dekadenz @ The Black Heart, London

The Friday night beers have long been flowing profusely here at the Black Heart tonight and the venue’s close, windowless attic confines are all but plunged into a state of impenetrable darkness barely relieved by a few meagre beams of pallidly colourless light visibly straining against the present, all-consuming gloom. A fitting accompaniment, then, to the various shades of frostbitten, thickly tremolo-laden offerings making an eagerly anticipated appearance here this evening. Indeed, so utterly engrossing is the current, eardrum-splitting cacophony that an accidentally triggered venue alarm system at first goes totally unnoticed by the half-mesmerised crowd - before, of course, an inevitable ripple of sarcastic cheering and cries of “Fuck yeah, fire alarm!” can be heard above an unlovely din of maddeningly repetitive metallic bleeping.

But however distracting this undeniably amusing mishap, nothing can detract from the craggy, coldly immersive magic that is Imperium Dekadenz as the Germans’ fluidly unravelling accents of guitar glide with effortless, glacial ease atop a pulverising backbone of crushing bass riffage. Then, it’s with deranged, madly accelerating abandon that the Black Forest assembly hurl us headlong into a manic outpouring of churning tremolo and tortured gargling before the violently bristling contortions of ‘Pure Nocturnal Rome’ work their grimly immersive magic on the senses. Offsetting its deliciously visceral core of gnarly tremolo and caustic gargling alongside a richly melodic wealth of luxuriant fretwork, theirs is a stunning, blackly absorbing affair. Artfully constructed around a tautly controlled ebb and flow of lacerating aggression, this electrifying standout is as thoroughly drenched in marrow-chilling melancholia as it is audibly bristling with aggression.

But with its richly distorted layerings of ghoulishly echoing, Alcest-tinged riffage, stunningly transporting title track ‘When We Are Forgotten’ makes for an utterly entrancing standout, bearing the unsuspecting listener aloft on soaring, infinite peaks of transcendental wonder far. Densely shrouded in endlessly writhing accents of ragged, ink-black tremolo, the deathly contortions of ‘A Million Moons’ wrap up proceedings on a flawlessly tempered blending of entrancing atmosphere and ripping, white-hot intensity.

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