Ravage & Conquer
posted on 6/2012 By:
The first and last time I heard Singapore’s Impiety was on the band's third album, Kaos Kommand 696, which was released almost ten years ago. Despite enough line-up changes over the past decade to make Incantation look stable, the Impiety of 2012 seems, from a musical standpoint, little changed from the Impiety of 2002, and consistency, as we know, is a double edged sword. In 2002,a large portion of black metal bands were still engaged in a competition to see who could make the shittiest sounding rip-off of Transilvanian Hunger. By contrast, Impiety’s black/death/thrash firestorm sounded particularly fresh and powerful, because the band played, you know, actual metal, with actual riffs that didn’t sound like a bee stuck in a beer can. However, over the past ten years, black metal has grown much broader in scope and is today a far more vital and creative genre. With its eighth album, Ravage and Conquer, Impiety is still kicking unholy amounts of ass in much the same manner it was ten years ago, and some of the shine has inevitably worn off.
The Impiety formula is pretty simple: pure skull-fucking brutality from start to finish. If that is your thing, then Ravage and Conquer will suit you just fine. Impiety plays really fast, really tight, and with absolutely no fucking around. The band crams dozens of riffs into each song, and the drumming, while certainly blast-heavy, is relatively varied as well. New guitarist Nizam Aziz performs with a surprising amount of finesse given the intensity of the band’s attack. Aziz manages to work in some melody, harmony and some decent solos into Ravage and Conquer without unduly softening Impiety’s sound.
Ostensibly, it seems like the band is doing things right, but despite Impiety’s unwavering dedication to devastation, many of Ravage and Conquer’s songs have the tendency to go in one ear and out the other. There is a mechanical stiffness to the playing that blunts the edges of these songs. The tracks have little in the way of groove or swing, and despite the numerous riffs and tempo changes, are short of appreciable dynamics. Vocalist/bassist (and sole remaining original member) Shyaithan is no help, as his monotone bark offers no real hooks to differentiate one song from the next.
On longer tracks such as “Revelation Decimation” and “Legacy of Savagery” the band eases up slightly with some slower (relatively speaking) sections. This practice opens up the sonic landscape enough for Aziz to develop some more memorable and thematic riffs, but these moments are all too rare, even on the album's multiple 7-plus minute tracks.
Ravage and Conquer shows some promise for the future: The line-up performs flawlessly together, and Aziz, based on what he’s accomplished with this record, could probably come up with riffs that really stick, if given a longer leash. Presently, however, Impiety is still too deeply engaged in a brutality arms race from which no one emerges victorious.
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