Imperium Dekadenz – Rise and FireMonday, 3rd October 2016
“Best friends.” That would be the not-so-black metal description of Imperium Dekadenz’s Horaz and Vespasian. The two men have steadily guided the band from the unheralded rungs of German black metal to the improbable next-level brink. And seriously, their 2013 Meadows of Nostalgia and this year’s utterly fantastic Dis Manibvs is classic next-level stuff, the on-the-mark strike of epic, towering, melodic black metal performed without massive synth swaths, buxom female beauties, and sideshow antics. What more could one ask for?
However, getting this far takes a strong partnership and the ability to balance the happenings of everyday life (both men have full-time jobs). The pair’s level of dedication toward Imperium Dekadenz has clearly paid dividends on Dis Manibvs, an album lavished with glorious numbers in the form of “Still I Rise,” “Vae Victus,” and “Volcano,” the latter two ranking among two of the best black metal songs of the year. But to get to the root of the matter, Vespasian (who is responsible for guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards), states that respect and organization are the fundamental components of his relationship with Horaz (guitars, keyboards, vocals), a working relationship that dates back to 2004.
“To create art is always a very fragile and intense situation,” he begins. “We are both extreme characters—everyone in his own way—so, you have to learn to handle the fire! But there is so much respect between us that we can manage even the most exhausting situations. It might sound strange, but when we work together there is magic going on. It’s really hard to describe. We are driven by the same forces, even that we are different characters in many ways. It’s all about passion, and the fire of passion is burning very bright! As we always say: the band is our very personal fortress that we would defend ‘till death if necessary.”
The success of Meadows of Nostalgia brought forth an increased workload for Imperium Dekadenz. The band earned slots on high-profile festivals like PartySan Open Air and Summer Breeze, not to mention an opening spot with the Swedish Shining. In turn, the creation of Dis Manibvs took over a year-and-a-half, but as noted above: it was worth the wait.
“We put all our hearts and souls into that record,” says Vespasian. “The goal is always to intensify emotions. This time we put a new, more aggressive energy into the songs, and the epic parts are more epic than ever before. We told our engineer Christoph Brandes that we wanted a more analog sound, so he did an outstanding mix and perfect mastering. We focused on dynamics—not on the loudness war.”
While the above-mentioned jams highlight the band’s ability to create triumphant mini-epics within the realm of melodic black metal, one should not underestimate the melancholic undercurrent that flows through the band’s songs. According to Vespasian, it’s not intentional, but rather a product of the unspoken Imperium Dekadenz formula. “We are both very nostalgic persons, he says. “We are both fascinated by old cultures, ruins and landscapes. So, when writing songs we are both in a, let’s say in a ‘state of nostalgic trance.’ That melancholy is present from the first note we play on our guitars. We never say ‘Hey, let’s write melancholic songs.’ It’s simply there. That’s the magic I mentioned before. It’s hard to describe what’s going on. Writing an album is surely a kind of a catharsis for us. You simply feel more comfortable when you are able to express your emotions.”
The intangibles of Imperium Dekadenz has caused some within the ever-standoffish black metal scene to question the band’s “trueness.” While such a debate is utterly pointless, it remains a regular sticking point among those who want to hem and haw over a band’s position. Considering where Imperium Dekadenz are from (southern Germany) and their unique, isolationist approach to creating music, such matters are neither here nor there.
“There are surely people out there who think that we are not ‘trve’ enough, but no one ever said something like that directly in our faces. Sometimes it feels like we aren’t part of anything. We live in southern Germany and make our very own thing. I think some people in scene simply cannot understand what we are doing and how to handle our band. But that’s absolutely okay. We don’t care.”