REVIEW: Imperium A.D. – The Last Gasping Breath of the Empire [EP/2021]

Artist: Imperium A.D.

Album: The Last Gasping Breath of the Empire – EP

         The last couple years have been very nostalgic when it comes to heavy music. In one part because a significant number of widely known and adored acts from metalcore and deathcore’s more juvenile years have made a rip-roaring comeback (with a couple somewhat notable flops). Another driving factor behind this relative trip down memory lane, however, is that a great number of bands are channeling the sound and style of many early death-or-metalcore acts in their own current releases. Imperium A.D., a new band that blurs the line between the aforementioned genres, manages to do a little bit of both. Featuring former members from legendary acts such as Lacuna Coil and The Agony Scene as well as contemporary deathcore juggernauts Enterprise Earth, Imperium A.D. is somewhat of a supergroup, and The Last Gasping Breath of the Empire is the prodigally powerful debut EP that stands as proof. Blending riff-driven metalcore with a penchant for ruthless aggression and soaring, diverse vocals heard best in the early days of deathcore, The Last Gasping Breath of the Empire is a diverse record that manages to draw from the high points of a variety of heavy music styles to provide a comprehensive and immersive listen that stands out as an impressive debut offering.

         Instrumentally, The Last Gasping Breath of the Empire is a adrenaline-soaring, rip-roaring fusion of distinctly metallic fretwork with a punchy, bouncy low end that brings a groovy, primal energy to Imperium A.D.’s dynamic. Songs like “Age of the Blinded Eye” and “Plagued” see pummeling percussion that serves up a slamming salvo of breakdowns without remorse, while the more balanced and atmospheric title track feels almost like a dark, broody melodic death metal cut with its sharp fretwork that contrasts a dissonant bass and spacey, atmospheric drumming. Between these two relative extremes, Imperium A.D. manages to feel soothingly familiar yet new and exciting all in one fell swoop. The more energetic “Plagued” and the catchy “Fallen is Babylon” will, without a doubt, remind the listener of some of the early metalcore cuts that got them hooked on the genre—while the record’s arid title track feels different enough to keep the listener from thinking “oh, shit, I’ve heard this before.” The band boast an impressive array of technically immaculate instrumentation that blends seamlessly into the release’s more primal moments of bloodshot aggression (“Age of the Blinded Eye” is an excellent example of this) without feeling like they’re spread too thin or as though their approach is contrived. Even the less remarkable tracks like “Two-Headed Dragon”—which feels sort of like a collection of B-Side leads and grooves—manages to keep the listener interested by flawlessly transitioning from practiced, poised calm to piercing, bitter brutality without skipping a beat.

         Where Imperium A.D. see their dynamic reach a standstill comes with the vocal consideration. While The Last Gasping Breath of the Empire is, no doubt, a strong release vocally, many of the segments lack the same flair that is so abundant in the record’s instrumentation. The record’s title track is possibly the primary culprit here, with verses that are scathing examples of impressive screams and blistering bellows—only to be rendered flaccid by a cleanly sung chorus that feels as if it came from left field, and not in a pleasantly surprised way. However, where the chorus of “The Last Gasping Breath of the Empire” faulters, “Plagued” and “Fallen Is Babylon” are immense, with vocal dynamism and candor to compete with even the most diverse contemporary technical deathcore vocalist. Here, the band use a sprawling range without going to obnoxious extremes—lending the continued nostalgic feel without succumbing to tacky vocal gimmicks to sell a solid, sinister and sincere sound. This highlights the notion that where The Last Gasping Breath of the Empire might have its missteps, it also has more than enough moments where it’s spot on—certainly enough to make it beyond worthwhile.

         Imperium A.D. came out of the gates swinging with their debut EP, The Last Gasping Breath of the Empire—and I’ll be damned if they didn’t hit just about everything they were aiming for. Boasting skin-rending riffs alongside percussion explosive enough to reduced bone to dust and topped off with a diverse and powerful vocal display, the band’s opening collection of tracks cut deep. However, as strong as the group’s debut is, it leaves some room for improvement, giving the listener both something to look forward to and something to hope for when Imperium A.D. undoubtedly strike again.


For Fans Of: The Agony Scene, Killswitch Engage, As Blood Runs Black,

By: Connor Welsh