It’s rare that people really turn to music as a means of storytelling these days—especially where heavy music is concerned. In an era when a majority of metalcore is built around who has the heaviest breakdowns or who has the lowest growls, the emphasis on lyrical themes that truly engage the listener seems to have fallen by the wayside. Enter Imminence, a Swedish metalcore quintet determined to use powerful, diverse musical soundscapes as a means of delivering immersive, emotional lyrics by way of visceral, throat-rending vocals. On their debut full length album, I, Imminence combine driving, metallic aggression and energy with the delicate frills and passion of a veteran post-hardcore act to create something genuine and unique among a horde of nameless, faceless same-sounding acts.
Whether it’s the spine-shattering breakdowns of “Salt of the Earth,” the jarring opening riff of “Broken Lost,” or the serene, beautiful background to the monologue in “Those Who Seek,” there is no lack of diversity to be found in Imminence’s instrumentation. Percussionist Peter Hanstrom covers it all—hammering away throughout I’s lead single, “86” and the shockingly energetic “Broken Lost” to subtle, splashy cymbal work and light, airy drumming during “Du” and “Those Who Seek.” Hanstrom sets the speed—and therefore the mood—for every track Imminence bring to the table, leaving guitarists Alex Arnoldsson and Harald Barrett to bring it to life. Where Hanstrom is unleashing hell behind his kid, leading the charge with furious footwork and pummeling fills, Arnoldsson and Barrett keep up with ease, crafting soaring, stellar riffs that reach skyward like a phoenix—only to come crashing earthward, combining with Frederik Rosdahl’s low, plunking bass to split the listener’s skull with a precise, punishing breakdown. While Arnoldsson and Barrett are masters of metallic riffing and frantic, high-strung shred, they are also capable of painting a still, soft soundscape with delicately plucked leads and rolling, smooth harmonies. “Those Who Seek” is a stellar example—while Hanstrom plays softly in the background, Arnoldsson and Barrett work from Rosdahl’s bass guitar as if it were a foundation to create meticulous, marvelous structures of sound.
If I was a book, it’s pages—the album’s instrumentation—would be a rugged, sturdy, yet perfectly worn and smooth papyrus: the sort of pages metalcore’s figurative bible would be etched into. With that in mind, it is up to vocalist Eddie Berg to put words to the page; a task he does with impressive vigor and punctual perfection. Whether it’s his harsh (albeit occasionally monotonous) mid-range scream or his beautiful, catchily crooned clean vocals, Berg writes mesmerizing tales with a figurative calligrapher’s pen. “86,” for example, is a mixed bag of Berg’s extraordinary talent, combining driving shouts with dissonant chugs and shredding riffs and melding soaring clean singing with uplifting harmonies and softer, smooth instrumentation. What Berg lacks in harsh vocal variety, he makes up for with beautiful lyrics and emotional, convincing delivery. Consider his half-screamed style in “Last Legs” or his touching spoken segment in the powerhouse “Those Who Seek”—especially in contrast with his endless energy in “Salt of the Earth.” Berg is boundless in his ability to put the finishing touches on Imminence’s immersive story-telling style—meaning that if I was indeed a novel, it would be a veritable page-turner.
The greatest justice Imminence do for the listener with I is to provide them with an experience that they can truly get lost in. Whether they are wandering in the labyrinth of “The Seventh Seal,” captured by the beauty of “Last Legs” or left hanging by the last notes of “A Sense of Doubt,” the listener is completely engaged from beginning to end. Where Berg’s voracious vocals are absent, the music simply speaks for itself, wrapping the listener in a cocoon of sound hard enough to protect the listener from the harsh world surrounding them, but soft enough to keep them comfortable, bordering on a hypnotically-induced daze throughout the album’s runtime. I is neither too long nor too short—it isn’t overdone and stuffed with empty, fluffy filler, nor is it brief and forgettable. I is the first novel to a series the listener can’t wait to get more of: engaging enough to pique their interest, long enough to keep them committed yet not daunting and dense with meaningless material.
In a word, Imminence are unique. Creative, crushing and catchy, they seamlessly stitch together the rough, warm cloth of metalcore with the smooth, thin silk of post-hardcore, making I a quilt that the listener will be anxious to wrap themselves in after a day in the freezing cold of monotonous metalcore.
For Fans Of: Architects, Lakota De Kai, August Burns Red, La Dispute
By: Connor Welsh