Although Imprecation’s history goes all the way back to the heyday of (American) Death Metal of the early 90’s, the band has always remained a bit more in the background. An underground jewel, if you will. On the earliest recordings, the band sounded like a somewhat standard American Death Metal band with influences from Vital Remains, Incantation and Morbid Angel, but they soon started to add Black Metal elements, making them one of the first American bands to merge both genres in this way. Former vocalist Mark Beecher even went so far as to use corpse paint and their live shows were embellished with the use of lots of spikes and candles to optimise their live rituals.
However, a debut album did not materialise, at least not during their first incarnation. The band finally threw in the towel in 1998, only to pull it out again a good 10 years later. After the ‘Sigil Of Lucifer’ 7″ EP (2010, Negativity Records) and the 2012 ‘Jehovah Denied’ demo (which was also pressed on 10″ EP), the band finally came out with their debut album in 2013. With this ‘In Nomine Diaboli’, the band has already reached their third full-length and seems to have finally become that established name in the underground that it should have always had a claim to.
Although the band has shown quite a few musical shifts in style and approach over the years, these have actually been more on the fringes. If you listen to 1993’s ‘Sigil Of Baphomet’ 7″ EP (Drowned Productions) and then compare it to this new album, you are still hearing the very same band. The basis of well-composed Death Metal riffs with a slight Black Metal hint and the use of accentuating keyboards for a moody effect is still very much intact. While the production has improved, it is refreshing to hear a band that has only minimally changed in style, but still shows growth and certainly does not sound bored or outdated. The evil Death Metal still fits the mould of Incantation and Acheron, but also clearly has an own distinctive musical identity. Dynamics are found in the (subtle) use of keyboards and tempo changes. The Slayer-esque solos also add a lot to the slightly technical and at times somewhat chaotic approach to the genre. ‘In Nomine Diaboli’ also benefits from its near-perfect production. where the predecessor ‘Damnatio Ad Bestias’ (2019, Dark Descent Records) had a slightly too neat and almost digital production, this new album has a rawer edge and fits the music much better. A perfect example of how this all flawlessly comes together is the song ‘Bringer Of Sickness’, where the keyboards play a vital role in setting up a sinister atmosphere, the riffs are crushing and both the drums and vocals are engaged in perfect interplay to give the song a very aggressive character.
Unfortunately, ‘In Nomine Diaboli’ also turned out to be the swan song for drummer/keyboardist and founding member Ruben Elizondo, who succumbed to complications of a COVID-19 infection last summer. Although the band seems to have brought in a good replacement with Matt Heffner (ex-Blaspherian, ex-Morbosidad and ex-Hideous Mangleus, among others), Elizondo’s loss will still be great. And if that wasn’t enough already, earlier that same year Imprecation-veteran Wes Weaver (Blaspherian and Imprecation from 1992-1998) died from heart failure. While he wasn’t part of Imprecation’s second coming, that completed the year of utter disaster.
It is therefore good to note and mention that ‘In Nomine Diaboli’ is without doubt the best work that these Texans have released so far. As such, it is not only a worthy tribute to these fallen Imprecation brothers, but also proof that they are a band that is more than ‘that cult band from that Drowned Productions 7″‘. Imprecation has a lot to offer and is a fist in the face of many bands that try to achieve an evil or ‘cavernous’ sound, it is not about tuning your guitar as low as possible and bowel-movingly deep grunts. Imprecation is just simply everything that evil and real Death Metal stands for.