No matter how thoroughly well-acquainted you think you may be with a band’s music, regardless of how many times you’ve obsessively pored and fixated over the most minute details of a record you’ve lovingly played, tattered and worn, to within an inch of its life, it’s impossible to truly appreciate an artist’s sound till you’ve experienced it live in the heat and chaotic immediacy of the moment. And with their impeccably assembled blend of thornily abrasive black metal and distortion-drenched intricacies that audibly vibrate with ethereal beauty, anyone who has yet to see Imperium Dekadenz perform their exquisitely atmospheric craft live is in for a rare and darkly immersive spectacle indeed. But from record to the sweat-soaked chaos and clamour of the stage, exactly how does it all come together on the night? Hot on the heels of their mesmerising London date back in November, frontman Horaz explains the finer details of this instinctive yet meticulously considered process.
“We were not 100 percent happy with our performance, but extremely happy with the reactions of the audience,” admits Imperium Dekadenz frontman Horaz on the melodic black metal horde’s latest stop-off in the capital at the tail-end of 2019. “It was the first show after a long period, with new tracks and we had a massive deficit of sleep, so the conditions were not that perfect. We had a very good time in London and the location where we played and we have the feeling that the people were very enthusiastic. We want to come back, no question!”
While the darkly electrifying set in question proved to be an infinitely more seamless and successful affair than this humbly understated assessment would have us believe, the pensive composer makes a nonetheless noteworthy point in highlighting the hugely variable and unpredictable nature of live performance. Far removed from the meticulously manicured conditions of the recording studio, the less-than-breezily-simple process of touring and performing invariably opens musicians up to a host of problematic unknowns that could easily make, break or, in certain cases, totally obliterate a band’s reputation. And from lackadaisical promoters and sleep-deprivation to financially crippling tour expenditures, the German quintet have certainly racked up more than their share of memorable live experiences since first establishing Imperium Dekadenz more than a full decade and a half ago.
“Let’s start with a highlight,” Horaz considers. “We played at Summer Breeze for the first time in 2011. We played at around 4 o’clock in the morning but the tent was packed with people. There was an atmosphere that is hard to describe. Definitely a highlight. Then, in 2017, we played a show in Venice. The promoter booked a huge club with a capacity of 600 people, but he did absolutely no promotion for it. Only six people came to the show. These guys were absolutely fanatic and we played a great show. They bought merchandise for over 400 EUR. The next day we made a trip to the downtown of Venice. It was great to be there, but a financial disaster as we paid 300 EUR for parking, driving boat, five pizzas and five beers, ha ha.”
But for all the problematic mishaps and setbacks that inevitably arise over the frequently rocky and gruelling course of a band’s touring career, these many and varied experiences have no doubt played their part in progressing the Germans’ now highly accomplished current sound. Crucially, too, with a tight-knit line-up of players that’s remained firmly established and unaltered for more than a decade, there’s no mistaking the instinctive band chemistry that characterises the five-piece’s darkly diverse sound. And with haunting new opus ‘When We Are Forgotten’ comprising the band’s sixth studio full-length to date, Imperium certainly have no shortage of killer material to choose from when compiling material in readiness for a live performance.
”We have a wide range of moods across our six albums,” Horaz agrees. “It is hard to find the perfect mixture and order of the songs to please everybody. We feel great with high energy stuff on stage, because these songs activate the most intense reactions by the audience. But we also love to see if people close their eyes while listening to the melancholic or even depressive stuff. That said, I think our show is very ‘metal’ and people who expect a depressive or post-black metal show could be surprised. That is something we can absolutely understand, because our style has all these moods, but we feel it's best to act with a high-energy appearance. I think being authentic is the most important point being on stage. That is what metal is standing for and what the people want to see.”
'When We Are Forgotten' is out now on Napalm