It has often been said that a band is a product of their surroundings. In the case of Imperial Triumphant, they give you a true New York City experience in all its darkness and grit, offering a sobering look at their hometown, one that you wouldn’t find in any tour guide. This is the proverbial “naked city”, where everything is broken down into harsh truths.
Also, like their hometown, they are a melting pot of sounds all coming together to form something unique, grand, and very dark. Genre tags, be damned. “There are so many ways you could describe us, and genre descriptions tend to be very narrow. There is black metal in the foundation, but you can also hear death metal, classical and jazz in there, too,” bassist Steven Blanco says. “We’re very difficult to fit into any one genre. Yet, you still need to describe it for people who might be interested in listening to us. How about avant black metal/jazz/soul? I just say, we’re a rock band.”
Well, this “rock band”, which also features guitarist Zachary Ilya Ezrin and drummer Kenny Grohowski, are about to release their definitive aural statement in Alphaville, which comes out July 31 on Century Media.
The follow up to 2018’s critically acclaimed Vile Luxury features Imperial Triumphant firing on all cylinders, pushing their sound into new, exciting directions. But, this didn’t come easy.
Vile Luxury was universally praised, and even raised their profile quite a bit, so when it came time to follow up it up, they definitely felt the heat.
“There was some pressure on us. We were like, ‘Shit, how are we going to follow up Vile Luxury. What are we going to do?'” Blanco says. We knew we wanted to make a bigger album than Vile Luxury.”
Well, with all that pressure, they managed to form a diamond, as Alphaville takes a lot of the elements of Vile Luxury and fuses them with new ideas, that transform their sound in new, exciting ways. It is definitely a “bigger” sounding album, as the band employs all sorts of offbeat instrumentation such as taiko drums, choirs, and even a barbershop quartet to get their sonic point across.
In order to capture what they heard in their head, the band had to turn to an outside set of ears, one that would help them, along with long time collaborator/producer Colin Marston, produce something truly epic and ground-breaking.
Enter Mr. Bungle guitarist Trey Spruance, who was a fan of the band. Getting him on as a producer wasn’t as difficult as one might think.
“Kenny works with Trey in Secret Chiefs 3, so they already have a business relationship. We thought he would be perfect because he would understand our eclecticism and what we were striving for. He was a big part, along with Colin, of helping us get the sound we wanted,” Blanco says. “Usually it’s just Colin and us, but this time we wanted a different set of ears to hear our music, and it worked out quite well.”
In addition, their new album shares its name with a classic slice of 1960’s French New Wave Cinema from master director Jean-Luc Godard. Godard’s film is a classic of film noir, science fiction, and dystopian society cinema.
The band felt this was a perfect title for the album since their music shares many thematic similarities with this film.
“Alphaville is a classic and Godard is a big inspiration for us. It’s right in line with what we do and it informs our aesthetic,” Blanco says. “We’re a film noir metal band. New York City is what we use as our main source of inspiration, but you can apply these ideas to any major city. There is darkness in those places. Film noir deals with the contrast between dark and light, which is what we do through our music. “
Once their sonic and thematic elements were in perfect alignment, they needed an album cover that would perfectly encapsulate the Alphaville experience. For this, they turned to artist Zbigniew Bielak, whose stunning creation, puts a nice bow on the sounds and lyrical themes of the album.
“He took all our ideas and put them into a scrapbook. He’s into a lot of the same shit as us. He’s into Godard,” Blanco says. “When we first saw the cover, we said, ‘Holy shit, this is amazing’. Basically, we used his first concept for the cover. Of course, he tweaked it a bit. But, yeah, it is amazing. We like it so much, we’re going to include a high definition PDF along with the download, so people who don’t buy the album or CD can see it. We try to provide a grand experience to the listener.”
This “grand experience” can be seen as a product of their environment, along with their sonic and thematic elements, which are all on display on Alphaville. They are a New York City band, through and through. The city effects them in a myriad of ways that is reflected through the twisted prism of their music.
“Living in New York City is a big influence on us. Just walk outside and you’re bombarded with all kinds of noise, both positive and negative. How you react to these sounds affects you. How it’s a struggle to live here. It can be a shitty place to live. It’s a center point of evil, because of all the different types of business that takes place here,” Blanco says. “You see the struggle every day. People working below the ground to have enough money to pay rent and provide for their families, right up to the people working high above it all in the skyscrapers. You see this pyramid structure of society on display every day. We have a bleak view because we’re from here. It would be different if we lived somewhere else. Where you live influences your music.”
Buy The Album HERE