Ad Nauseam - Imperative Imperceptible Impulse review

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Band: Ad Nauseam
Album: Imperative Imperceptible Impulse
Release date: February 2021

01. Sub Specie Aeternitatis
02. Inexorably Ousted Sente
03. Coincidentia Oppositorum
04. Imperative Imperceptible Impulse
05. Horror Vacui
06. Human Interface To No God

I feel like I'd need a lot more time to dissect all the intricacies of this album.

Technical death metal doesn't really sound like the genre that should be a big umbrella term, so it's not surprising that what it all has in common is that it is death metal that is really technical. But death metal itself is pretty varied, so then you have tech death that is old-school and takes from Death and Nocturnus, or tech death that is brutal, or that is more deathcore-ish. You get the point. And then there is tech death that is more on the avant-garde side, either through an emphasis on atmosphere or through some unconventional songwriting. It's easy to see Ad Nauseam as just another band walking the lineage of Gorguts and Ulcerate, and for the most part they are. But there's something about Imperative Imperceptible Impulse that feels different.

I listened to a bunch of avant-garde tech death albums (usually in some way associated with Colin James Marston) that really went all in on sounding suffocating and being intricate beyond human comprehension. There are moments on Imperative Imperceptible Impulse that do remind me of those, but much more in the "intricate" than in the suffocating part. And I realized that for an album walking a lineage that has dense atmospheres in its DNA, it's really neither dense nor suffocating. That's partly due to the production that emphasizes the intricacies rather than the pummeling nature, but also the songwriting itself feels like, deep under, has a meaning behind all the intricacies.

Why I mentioned that I needed more time to dissect this is mostly because every time a metal artist claims to be influenced by classical songwriting and then they start naming more composers that you've never heard of than ones you did, it means two things: that I don't listen to nearly enough classical music, and that they take the songwriting very seriously. The most recent case might be that Void Paradigm album I reviewed, where a lot of the avant-garde feel came purely because of the classical music techniques in the songwriting. There are a lot of moments in III (ironic that they went with an title abbreviated as "III" on their second album, missed opportunity) that are drawn-out atmospheric bits reminiscent of Deathspell Omega, that contrast really well with the atonal complexities of the meatier parts, and it is in those meatier parts where the riff changes and all those music school rhythmic mambo jambo feels way too calculated not to be noticeably out-there.

It's like Ad Nauseam found a sound that was already celebrated as innovative but that was already showing sings of stagnation and found a way to take its innovation very seriously. It's avant-garde elements are not as in-your-face as the blending of two disparate genres, but this soft avant-garde approach of having the differences in songwriting lurk beneath the surface is something I can't not respect. Especially when it makes something familiar feel odd again.


Written on 23.02.2021 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.


Comments: 4   Visited by: 80 users
24.02.2021 - 00:45
arto adnan
I truly agree with your intro comment. I am exploring something new in every listen and enjoying it a lot. To me one of the great albums of avant-garde tech death.

I was wondering why there is no review in MS of such an album since I first listen to it. Now, it's here.
Thanks for the review.
24.02.2021 - 01:42
I think people who found Alphaville a bit too out there for their liking (but still appreciated it for what it was) will probably enjoy this one.

A very good avant-garde tech death album indeed.
24.02.2021 - 21:55
Jacob Butcher
The comparisons with Imperial Triumphant, Ulcerate or Deathspell Omega unfortunately elude me so much with this album that after some extended time of enthusiastically reading news and reviews here, I decided to actually sign up to get some input.

In almost every second review of "Imperative Imperceptible Impulse" you read in the comments that many listeners describe themselves as too unintelligent to understand the music. This even goes so far that an editor of another site wrote an essay about his supposed stupidity to understand the album. That's actually pretty absurd, especially since I think the problem lies somewhere else entirely: While I was slowly understanding the structure after six or seven listens, even after the fifteenth listen (no exaggeration intended), the album lacks something that the aforementioned bands exhibit, namely a memorable diversity that often stems from genuine emotion. Ad Nauseam layer structure upon structure and while the structures change every second, the instrumentation and vocals still remain the same to my ears and still seem to be motivated by a clinical will to create something special. The whole thing is of course exciting on a level that makes every music student sit up and take notice, a level that seems to be forcing critics to submit to the dictates of the elite - of course you don't want to end up looking stupid. This undoubtedly is Intelligent, but also quite soulless in my opinion and inspired by a completely different motivation than the aforementioned bands.
24.02.2021 - 22:41
Written by Jacob Butcher on 24.02.2021 at 21:55

The comparisons with Imperial Triumphant, Ulcerate or Deathspell Omega unfortunately elude me so much with this album that after some extended time of enthusiastically reading news and reviews here, I decided to actually sign up to get some input.

First of all, welcome to the website!

On your comment: I feel that Ad Nauseam are a tad less avant-garde than Imperial Triumphant, a tad less chaotic than Deathspell Omega, and a tad less brutal than Ulcerate. Maybe it's just me who thinks that of course, but for all these reasons Ad Nauseam are at times even more listenable to me than any of those three bands (and I am talking about this particular album, I haven't listened to the debut yet). I can understand someone claiming that they are too stupid to get Alphaville, but not this album. The thing is that many people listen to albums once or twice and expect to have a full understanding. This is not such an album, in my opinion. I am really bad at judging quickly anyway, I need many listens even for the simplest album and I have played this one about 4-5 times but I plan to give it quite a few more because it invites me to do so.

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