Imperial Triumphant
Imperial Triumphant

Imperial Triumphant

About Imperial Triumphant

Imperial Triumphant are a progressive, avant-black metal band from New York City led by vocalist and guitarist Zachary Ilya Ezrin. Since issuing their acclaimed 2012 debut Abominamentvm, they have undergone several lineup changes, played festivals across the United States and Europe, and issued EPs, singles, and long-players on a variety of labels including Gilead Media and Century Media. 2018's Vile Luxury was a collectively written concept offering with New York City as its central character, speaking subject, and cultural object. It drew wide acclaim for its attempt to redefine metal's genre boundaries through the incorporation of jazz harmonics, improvisation, and instrumentation in its compositions.
Ezrin birthed Imperial Triumphant as a quartet in 2005 with drummer Maelström, bassist Naargryl Fjellkrieger, and rhythm guitarist Amarok Myrvandr. Their self-titled 2008 demo featured the latter's cello as part of their sound; it added an extra harmonic dimension and immediately set them apart from their peers. The original quartet followed with the independently issued six-track EP Summons to War before Maelström left the band. He was replaced by Pyrron drummer Alex Cohen, who had woodshedded with the group and played with them on tour before he appeared on 2012's six-track Obeisance EP.
Imperial Triumphant recorded its acclaimed, self-released long-player Abominamentvm as a trio. Ezrin enlisted Cohen's Pyrron bandmate Erik Malave as bassist and backing vocalist. Their tour took them across the U.S. where they played clubs and second stages at festivals. In 2013, Imperial Triumphant issued Goliath, a two-track single that featured second drummer Kenny Grohowski.
The band signed to Code666 Records in late 2013. The label reissued Abominamentvm and Goliath as a single volume titled Shrine to the Trident Throne in the summer of 2014. It received laudatory reviews from rock writers -- many of whom had not heard the recordings when they were originally issued. That release, and label profile, helped the band on the road; they not only got to play better headline club gigs, but also won more favorable places in festival lineups. Imperial Triumphant did not stop touring until late in the year when they entered the recording studio with an expanded guest roster. The album included horns, a female vocal chorus, strings, and additional temporary guitarist Max Gorelick. The finished album titled Abysmal Gods was mixed and mastered by Dysrhythmia's Colin Marston and released in February of 2015. Universally positive reviews won the band headline spots at larger venues across the continental United States.
In 2016 Imperial Triumphant issued the EP Inceste in a limited edition of 100 copies from Redefining Darkness Records in Cleveland, Ohio. Ezrin expanded the band's lineup again, this time as a quintet with keyboardist and backing vocalist Steve Blanco. Once again mixed and mastered by Marston, the session players included a trio of backing singers as well as saxophonist/clarinetist Ulrich Krieger.
After a North American tour, the band was back to the trio of Ezrin, Grohowski, and Blanco. They entered Marston's The Thousand Caves Studio in Queens with a concept in mind: to explore and elucidate the contradictory, multifaceted, contradictory nature of New York City itself. They enlisted a brass quintet (two trombones, two trumpets, and a tuba), and a host of guest vocalists including Bloody Panda's Yoshiko Ohara and Artificial Brains' Will Smith. Titled Vile Luxury and released by Gilead Media, the set was a collision of experimental black metal and avant-jazz. The global metal press regarded it as a game changer given the band's collective ability to transcend genre boundaries and engage with avant-jazz, all while delivering a focused, conceptual work. While Imperial Triumphant was a well-established touring entity in North America, they had not plied their trade in Europe. The strength of Vile Luxury earned them a performance slot at the venerable Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, Netherlands. Their performance received a thunderous, ten-minute standing ovation. The gig opened the doors to the continent for the band; they played Germany and Austria before returning to tour the United States.
Imperial Triumphant signed a record deal with Sony's Century Media in 2019, and entered the studio in early 2020 with New York City once more as its muse. With producer Trey Spruance they used Vile Luxury as a sonic blueprint for an even more adventurous journey. They tracked with Marston on additional guitars (as well as in his by-now-customary roles mixing and mastering) and guests who included Meshuggah's Thomas Haake on taiko drums, a choir led by Ohara, a barbershop quartet (all parts sung by R.K. Halvørson), strings, and J. Walter Hawkes' multi-tracked trombone. Wildly experimental and titled Alphaville after French director Jean-Luc Godard's 1965 dystopian futurist sci-fi film, the recording all but erased the dividing lines between avant-jazz and classical music, black metal, prog, and industrial rock. In addition to seven original songs, the set included innovative covers of Voivod's "Experiment," and the Residents' "Happy Home." Alphaville was released at the end of July in 2020. ~ Thom Jurek

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