Artist: Imminent Sonic Destruction
Album Title: The Sun Will Always Set
Label: Independent Release
Date of Release: 15 April 2022
With a name like Imminent Sonic Destruction, you might well expect an intense listening experience, the kind that will blow your ears apart with a ferocity that’s calculated and brutal. To some extent, that’s what you get with this band. However, this only tells half the story as those already familiar with the band will know. Because, whilst there is a great deal of heaviness and brutality within their sound, there’s also an incredible amount of variety too, with echoes or more of many different genres and subgenres of music evident, from progressive metal to djent, and from pastoral prog rock, to groove metal. There’s even room for a bit of classical and, dare I suggest it, a little lighter pop too.
I’m surprised as I listen to ‘The Sun Will Always Set’ the third album of the band’s career, that I’ve not crossed swords with them before. I put it down to circumstance rather than an unwillingness to check them out; every time I’ve had them in mind, something has conspired to prevent a decent listen and therefore a review. Now is the time though, and I have thrown myself eagerly into ‘The Sun Will Always Set’, to find out more.
Formed in Detroit, Michigan in 2011, Imminent Sonic Destruction are about as far removed from their hometown’s most famous export, Motown, as it’s possible to get. Mind you, with such a varied music palette, a brief blast of Motown might not have been that big a surprise to be honest. Ok, so I’m being a little flippant, but I’m being honest when I say that this music is varied. Unusually, the band has remained intact since the beginning, meaning that the 2022 line-up is identical to when they released their debut, ‘Recurring Themes’ back in 2012. As such, you’ll find Bryan Paxton on bass/vocals, Pat DeLeon on the drums, Scott Thompson handling guitars, vocals, piano, and midi pedals, Pete Hopersberger on the keyboards, synths and vocals, with Tony Piccoli on lead vocals and guitar.
This kind of stability has clearly aided the American outfit too, because what I hear on ‘The Sun Will Always Set’ is impressive. I’ll admit that there are a couple of the tracks here that I’m less keen on, but overall, there’s not a great deal to complain about. I’d heard rumblings in the past about the quality of the vocals in places on previous outings, but on that score, things must have improved because again, this isn’t an area that causes me any serious problems. Ok, the clean vocals occasionally struggle when pushed to the limit, but with the variety of the delivery, from clean to growling, to screams, it means that the focus isn’t on one style alone.
I’m pleasantly surprised from the off, thanks to ‘Arise’, the opening track. It starts with a delicate piano and clean female vocals, gently, serenely becoming more cinematic as it develops. The melodies, the strings, and the layers of vocals add depth and gravitas to the piece, meaning that instead of being a throw-way intro, it’s a beautiful beginning.
Within moments though, ‘The Core’ obliterates this gentle introduction with some massively heavy guitar notes and powerful, urgent drumming. The vocals that emerge initially are clean, but then we get a bass bomb and in come the nasty growls that seem more in keeping with the brutal, djenty, metalcore-ish soundscape. The bludgeoning is pretty intense, but there is complexity, as well as differing textures to keep things interesting including a pretty cool lead guitar solo. Despite all this, it’s one of the least impressive tracks on the album in my opinion.
I’m much more a fan of ‘Fledgling’, which feels far more varied and dextrous. From the tinkling of keys to the stop-start djent riffs at the outset, not to mention the more cinematic tones underneath, it presses my buttons much more firmly. And the melodies are much more pronounced, created by some cool lead guitar licks, to a catchy chorus with clean vocals and expansive sound. The track goes off in different directions willingly, with some brilliant technical complexity in the instrumentation, but that big chorus keeps returning, keeping things nicely in check when things threaten to get out of hand.
As good as ‘Fledgling’ undoubtedly is, ‘Nightshade’ has to be my favourite track as I write this review. At over twelve minutes, it’s a bit of a monster, but it’s a brilliant monster. The intro is full-on drama and intensity, with a cool groove materialising, accented by pinched harmonics for which I can be a bit of sucker. I love the bass rumble within this song too, gratified that the very decent production (Nick Hagen, guitarist of fellow US metal band Intransient) gives room for each of the instruments to breathe and be heard. The chorus melody is marvellous, so catchy, and the introduction of acoustic guitars is a very welcome touch. Elsewhere, the band explore overtly Pantera-like grooves, flamboyant musicianship including keyboard and guitar solos, and plenty in between, making it one of the most fun and interesting compositions on the aklbum.
The aforementioned pop-like sensibilities surface within the rather surprising ‘Solitude’, a much gentler track that strangely reminds me a little of Shadow Gallery at points, as well as more recent Devin Townsend. The synths offer a deep resonance, whilst electronic beats supplement those of drummer Pat DeLeon. And the melodies are light, breezy, and oddly soothing. Things do get heavier in the second half, but don’t overrun the melodic intent of this great song.
‘Source’ is another track that I’m slightly less keen on, despite it being a perfectly decent track in it’s own right, but the closing title track ends ‘The Sun Will Always Set’ on a suitably high note. The opening clean guitar notes fill me with joy, as does the ensuing nine-minute passage of music, complete with rich, warm sounds, almost rock-meets-ambient in tone. It demonstrates, once again, that Imminent Sonic Destruction understand dynamics and as heavy as they get, can more than hold their own when things get lighter. The song is a glorious effort, complete with rousing melodies, layers of vocals, and a closing ambient section that could make a grown man cry.
When you add into the equation guest appearances from some notable musicians, including cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne, guitarist Tony Asta (Battlecross), vocalist Lady Luna (Lady Luna And The Devil), and Dragged Beneath’s vocalist Kevin Wroebel, you begin to realise just how good this band are, and how highly thought-of they are in certain musical circles. And the great thing is, that ‘The Sun Will Always Set’ justifies the high regard in which they are held. Imminent Sonic Destruction have put together a superb record here, one that deserves to see them rise higher and command even more success in the coming years. If you’re a fan of progressive music, then there is definitely something on ‘The Sun Will Always Set’ that is guaranteed to get your pulse racing. Highly recommended.
The Score of Much Metal: 89%
Check out my other 2022 reviews here:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: