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Imperial Vengeance - 'Black Heart Of Empire' (transend records) 4/5

This is the second full length album from Essex 'steam metal' outfit Imperial Vengeance, and after their flirtation with World War One on their debut release 'At The Going Down Of The Sun', they now step back in time and serve up a delicious slice of metallic Victorianism that can only be described as a complete gem. This album even sounds Victorian, with its haunting orchestrated passages, gin palace pianos and penny dreadful narrated sections. Hell if they really did have heavy metal in Victorian England I could well image Charles Dickens being in this band, or at least serving up some lyrics for them.

The albums first four tracks: Scenes Of Inked Treachery / Black Heart Of Empire / The Voice Of Thelema / The Ghost Of Light form a nice little conceptual suite in the aforementioned 'penny dreadful' style. (Apparently, on release the album will come with a 'penny dreadful' novella to accompany it - sadly my advanced review copy didn't come with it, so I can't comment). But from what I can make out it's a dark and twisted tale of hauntings, death and terror... all good stuff.

Beyond the concept section the album continues in much the same vein. Main man C Edward Alexander (ex Cradle Of Filth) is in fine form, with barked vocals, driven guitar work and powerful orchestrated sections, and there's some tasty operatic vocalisations from guest song bird Lori Lewis (vocalist with Therion) to provide the perfect counterpoint to the Blind Beggar knife fight brutality; this is most true on The Devil In The Detail, which for me is the standout track on this really rather excellent album.

Now I wonder if this is available on wax cylinder?

For Fans of... Cradle Of Filth, Cathedral, Within Temptation, Whitechapel etc..

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