Written by: Izzy
Cut from the same cloth as many similar Obscura-worshipping avant-garde technical death metal outfits, Ad Nauseam got a fair bit of attention for their debut release, Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est, an album I personally enjoyed. It was filled with complex, angular and abrasive melodies mixed with a subtle sense for melody, but I felt it wasn’t as good as it could’ve been and was more indicative of where the band could go. Its not a new or original idea to make dissonant skronky tech metal inspired by classical compositions, and I felt Nihil Quam was held back by falling into many of the microgenres cliches, thereby not doing enough to really make themselves stand out amongst the crowd.
Of course I was excited for a new record from Ad Nauseam, hoping their sound would develop more to differentiate themselves and bring their own approach to the genre, and I do think Imperative Imperceptible Impulse is an improvement. Many if not all of my praises for the debut apply even more-so here, but also feel that many of those same complaints I had about Nihil Quam still linger here.
Avant-garde, a term used to describe this album, means to be at the forefront of innovation in ones field, rejecting or defying conventions of the status quo and creating art that will challenge their audiences in the pursuit of greater artistic expression, but Imperative Imperceptible Impulse is firmly built on the already established tropes of dissotech and rarely breaks out of them, using those tropes extremely effectively mind you, but they’re far from pushing any boundaries. As a result, while I do think this is a great record--It doesn’t bring very much new to the table, Ad Nauseam ends up becoming overshadowed by albums that already do what Imperative Imperceptible Impulse does, but better.
There’s very little distinct enough present that would make me choose to listen to this over Ulcerate, Pyrrhon, Ingurgitating Oblivion, or Imperial Triumphant. Bands, in other words, who are building on the blueprints laid out by Obscura and adding their own flair...or Gorguts themselves, the progenitor of this style, whose unique approach to death metal songwriting came from a place of genuine innovation rather than following others. Not that there’s anything wrong with having a band that doesn’t innovate, but if you wanna stand out you gotta either A. play it better than everybody else, or B. do something different with it. The album's cavernous atmosphere, spanky bass tone, and back-to-back barrage of titanic songs might be more thrilling to others, but for me while Ad Nauseam are certainly very talented musicians and songwriters, they play very by-the-numbers and ‘safe’ sounding version of atmospheric and dissonant tech death.
So, despite the fact that I do think musically this is an excellent album, after this review I can’t see myself returning to it very often, if at all. If this is a niche you are extremely fond of and just need to hear more of it, then I can’t recommend this album enough, however if you’re looking for something a bit more fresh and avant-garde you may be better off looking someplace else.
Ad Nauseam - Imperative Imperceptible Impulse was released Feb 12th, 2021 from Avantgarde Music
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!