If nothing else, these past couple of years have revealed that the French metal scene is at a striking high if maybe still not truly recognised outside of its national borders. That might be on the verge of changing if it continues to persist in producing bands and releases like Magoa and their new album Imperial. An outfit established within the French metal underground, the Paris hailing band has unleashed a proposition which just demands the richest attention.
Imperial sees the band’s tapping into and unleashing a brutality and a grouchily uncompromising attitude not as vocal in their music to date; a coincidence that the band kept everything about its creation in house? It is emotionally and physically raw yet woven with an imagination which makes its grievous groove infested sound stand out from the crowd. Imperial is a cauldron of varied strains of the fiercest metal genres honed into a virulence which infests ears, appetite, and psyche alike.
The successor to their well-received second album Topsy Turvydom of 2013, Imperial swiftly hints at something having stirred within the Magoa heart and creativity which eclipses all before with each passing minute let alone song. It opens up with its title track, a rousing call to arms which drifts in on a sonic mist broken up by warlike strikes. A melancholic melody slips into the brewing climate, vocalist Cyd Chassagne close behind sharing his dirt encrusted snarls as that lone melodic lure begins to flame with greater intensity within a growing tempestuous air. As grooves begin winding around bruising rhythms, the track rises to real anthemic heights, its roar of a chorus as defiant as it is provocative and contrasted superbly by the beauty of keys and mellower caresses of emotion.
It is a potent start which is soon over shadowed by the snarling brutality of Resistance, grievous riffs and senses shuddering rhythms to the fore. The track is superb, an angry beast of a proposal but one unafraid to show melodic elegance and sonic grace like oases within its vicious onslaught. As its predecessor, the song is a spirit raising anthem which arouses body and emotions before Sailors swings in with its own host of irritable beats and riffs, they soon evolving into one ridiculously infectious and addictive incitement. A great blend of vocal ire is matched by the array of textures within the track’s fiery sound, guitarists Vince and Drayton spinning an imagination snaring web of intrigue and suggestiveness, the bass and drummer Martin’s lethal swipes antagonistic weight to be feared and embraced.
There is something familiar about the encounter but an indefinable essence which just spices things up here and within tracks like the following heavyweight swing fest of Kill Us. It descends upon the senses with raw aggression and intent, taking them on a groove spun, melody enriched ride of fearsome yet anthemic savagery which just sparks the instincts.
Through the haunting melancholy of Merge, a less imposing affair but just as emotionally intense as cleaner vocals and resonating rhythms court piano nurtured melody and electronic atmospherics, and the brief and equally impacting Remember and its reminder of conflict’s casualties and protagonists, Imperial strikes another stirring chord with both setting up emotions for the thumping roar of Faith. Like a reassuring beacon within the more murderous aspects of the album, it is pure contagious revelry with its own truculent presence.
The calmer nature of Afterglow follows uncaging a nu/groove metal trespass which bellows with warrior strength and countenance but equally engages in less bruising exploits which further entangles the imagination. Sonic and melodic invention is as prevalent as another great mix of vocal confrontation, all topped off by deliciously scything strings.
Physical barbarism and emotive reflection unite within Endlessly next, the track a mix of bloodlust and warmer enticement, emotionally and musically, with the former holding the reins throughout, while Pray for Us is an emotion driven sonic clamour which whilst maybe lacking the spark of other tracks before it, leaves ears enjoyable ringing and appetite hungry for more which the bewitching Untouchable delivers with its low key but atmospherically thick and emotionally commanding serenade. Cyd’s clean vocals glide over the senses, the gentle haunt of keys and guitar fingering the imagination as the song resonates in thoughts as darker clouds loom on the back of heavier lumbering rhythms.
The album ends with the ruthlessly addictive and mercilessly anthemic The First Day, a track which will either have you cowering or raising a fist in defiant unity while summing up everything impressive and compelling about album and the new character of Magoa’s songwriting, invention, and inescapable sound.
If Imperial came from a Lamb Of God, Slipknot, or In Flames people would be raving about it; hopefully they still will just with the name Magoa upon their lips.
Imperial is out now across most online stores and @ http://magoamusic.com/shop/
Pete RingMaster 21/01/2016
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