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A gradual flow - 68%

Byrgan, December 29th, 2010

Impurity returned in the millennium with their third full length after taking a sizable break. "Satanic Metal Kingdom" is another transition for the black metal band, where the temperament is generally moderate and far from their excessive early days as you can get.

The production is voluminous, though the surface isn't exquisitely etched due to some effects on top of the instruments covering specific outlines. Like the music, the sound is balanced, where the guitar tone is full of mids; the drums are somewhere in between, not overly beefy or ready to crumble; though the vocals do have a decent amount of reverb on top and give off some surrounding projection.

With the exception of a shorter fast section in "Dark Are the Ways," the pacing sticks with slower and middling speeds, leaving faster poundings and continual blasts for the next corpse painted guys to tend to. Some of the momentum is more energetic in an attempt to entice one's neck, while others take time to admire the scenery. The song writing is simple at heart and the music unfolds one moment at a time. The issue is there aren't a whole heap of surprises and it's not a terribly involving experience as a result. Impurity don't always have successive transitions one after the next, as they might find a certain riff, drum beat and vocal pattern and latch onto that for a while before changing into the next. Though there are sections where the formula is less obvious and the band, in turn, effortlessly weaves into their changeups.

The guitarist can go from palm muting a few power chords, break into another that sounds semi-thrash-like, and also work up to moderately plucked tremolo. Sometimes there are rhythms that sit around for awhile and hope to get lucky. Others will blend clean guitar, strum a few abstract notes, produce a lead or tap into the higher strings with a tad of melody. It's like they can go from moments of brilliant clarity and take a listener for a ride without a hitch, to others feeling like a new tour guide that's searching around for the way. The drums seem to keep up without entirely standing out or jeopardizing the flow with technicality, though they can occasionally get a little upbeat with a certain technique that rapidly hits the cymbals to pick up the energy but not necessarily aid in clamping down a malign mood. The vocals give off a cavernous delivery with a calmer sounding rasp; like a storyteller that wants to alter their pitch for ambiance, but keeps the flow natural to not jump too far ahead of the unraveling tale.

"Satanic Metal Kingdom" is eight years from the last recording, which had a completely separate style of music as well as its own set of dilemmas. Impurity are now playing black metal that takes its time and works in a moment by moment context. The problem here is in knowing when to mine for resources in a specific area and when to speed things along because there might not be a hidden treasure to be found. Essentially some sections can drag, while others can effectively darken the mood or get your head to nod. From an audience's perspective you never know when the curtains will open for a performance to remember or suddenly close from a delay.