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AD NAUSEAM - Imperative Imperceptible Impulse

"How can you look into the emptiness
If your own experience exists out of it?
How can you listen to the voice of the self
If the listener hears only his own echoes?"

"When I look at the cosmic mirror
The universe sees itself through me."

(Ad Nauseam on "Imperative Imperceptible Impulse")

Are you ready to be brutally dazzled and confused?

Are you ready to stare into the abyss and embrace it when it stares back?
Are you ready for some death fucking metal to end all death fucking metal?

"This is the kind of metal that is worth listening to.
Other metal is just tame in comparison."

(some dude in a YouTube comment)

While I do think that the statement is a slight exaggeration, since there are tons of worthwhile metal out there, I certainly understand where it comes from.
Because frankly, at least while I'm spinning this double album I find my self very close to this sentiment. 

AD NAUSEAM - Imperative Imperceptible Impulse (smoke clear vinyl 2LP) (2021)

I always found "Avantgarde Music" and that of all names combined with a NSK rip-off logo, to be a quite, let's say bold choice as the brand of a metal label. The new album of Italian dissonant metal extremists Ad Nauseam couldn't be represented more fittingly though, since every single minute of the six longtracks on "Imperative Imperceptible Impulse" screams avant-garde through and through.

Yet the huge difference to most other bands earning said tag is that Ad Nauseam don't need to bring in any unusal instruments or crossovers with unsuspected genres to achieve the effect. They even go so far as to declaring "no synths" like Queen did on their 1970's works. (Along with an explanation that this album needs to be played louder than most other because of its dynamics.)

I already said it in the introduction and I'll double down on it: This album is also without any doubt death metal through and through. It's only towards the end that we get some breathier passages with a kayo dotish doom and darkjazz feeling, but far over ninety percent of this is pure death metal onslaught on the highest technical, compositional and brain-bashing level.

So how do these two poles merge together so well?

A common sign of successful (not only) avant-garde art is that it speaks to the gut and soul, even though it might be based on a very intellectual and "set up" concept.
In the case of Ad Nauseam it's obvious that the guys have a profound understanding or at least affinity to the avant-garde varieties of jazz and classical music, but apply their knowledge in a manner that may challenge and broaden the boundaries of death metal, but stay true to the sound and feel of the genre nonetheless. This is just much more traumatizingly intense and horrifying than most other death metal.

The key is the key.
If there even is any.

Just like an avant-garde composer setting up a weird array of custom instruments or Miles Davis contemplating over the then more theoretical idea of modal jazz before recording "Kind Of Blue", Ad Nauseam probably started their whole process with some serious conceptual nerd-work and developed their very own tuning systems, which seems far more "out there" and dissonant to European ears than Arabian microtonal music, which at least has a somehow familiar cultural backbone and should be part of any well-assorted music collection in at least some capacity.

Like always when metal guitars explore the realm of dissonance and atonality, you can of course cite forefathers like Voivod, their ancestors like King Crimson or in this case closer relatives like Ulcerate.
And while the tone of bands like the hyper-bleak surrealists Portal or New York's much more openly jazz-influenced creators of the metal album of the year 2020Imperial Triumphant may sound similar in many instances, the consequence in which really every single note and sound emerging from this nightmarish cacophony seems to come from a parallel universe of aural perception, is hardly to be matched.

Despite love love loving this sick sick sick monster like I presumably won't love many other metal records of the foreseeable future, I am also kind of relieved that this kind of music will always be a marginal sub-genre affair without any chance of reaching the popularity of Genesis or Pink Floyd. Because how in all hells should any future Volkswagen-sponsored Ad Nauseam tribute band in the 2060s ever be able to decrypt and reproduce this? Come on!

Last but not least "Imperative Imperceptible Impulse" is rounded up by a dark elemental artwork, which totally matches the vibe of the music as well as the beautiful transparent smoke vinyl of the album's second pressing.

Consider all this and you have a complete masterpiece on every imaginable level.

If you dig any kind of carefully askewed extreme metal like Imperial Triumphant, Ulcerate, but also Sumac, VirusOrannssi Pazuzu, avant-garde black metal in general; or if you just want to know how far the Morbid Angel / Gorguts tradition of death metal can be pushed - you ought to give this a listen!

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