I did not know Kimaera before hearing about their new album “Imperivm” and boy am I mad that I did not. I will give my tl;dr now and say this album is so freaking good, it made me raise my standards for other death metal albums. With the OCD personality I have, I had to dig up everything about the band and listen to everything they recorded, and this was such a fun ride, that ended in me finding out that the vocalist Jean Pierre Haddad had passed away in February of 2022 and I genuinely felt sad, because it reminded me of Chuck Schuldiner and how I was depressed for almost a year when he passed away (coincidentally, Chuck’s birthday is today or the day I’m writing this article.) Jean Pierre’s passing was a huge loss to the death metal scene locally and internationally as he was a pioneer in the Lebanese metal scene from early on (early 2000s) and this album and all the other things he recorded will keep his memory alive.
The album starts with De Amare Et Bellvm which is one of the best intros to a death metal album I have heard in a while, a perfect orchestral arrangement which is shattered by guitar chugs and double bass kicks, while keeping the choirs in the background giving a very dark ambiance to the song. JP’s vocals are one of the best guttural growls and shrieks in recent years. Midway through the song, the music is blessed with some lute (the Arabic Oud) riffs and some Arabic style vocalization which makes this song such an intense journey and, again, one of the best starts to an album.
The Die is Cast follows with a strong start of guitars alongside a sample of an impassioned speech that I unfortunately could not trace but it definitely fits the mood as this is a war song. The music and the lyrics flow perfectly together, and you can hear a lot of middle eastern influences in the music and the vocalization in the background, which is a signature Kimaera trope that will repeat in all the songs. Following is what I think is the highlight of the album, VVV, another warsong that makes you want to carry your pitchfork and just go out and protest something. This song has probably one of the best mixing and mastering of any death metal song I have heard in a long time. As a musician, this is one of the main things I listen for, and Kimaera have hit it out of the park. You have piano parts, orchestrals, strings, vocalization, blast beats, breakdowns, this song has everything and I just wish it was longer than 7 minutes.
Following the masterpiece that is VVV, is The Ides of March which was released as a lyric video and is my second favorite in the album, mainly because of the amazing intro and guitar riffs in the first half and the piano and guitar solos that are quiet yet fit perfectly with the tone of the song. The next couple of songs, are not really my favorites as they rehash some ideas and feel a bit repetitive, but should definitely not be discarded as great productions, Imperator has a wonderful creepy piano part followed by an epic guitar solo, Vi Divina continues the creepy vibes with a superb piano intro mixed in with blast snare beats leading to the main part of the song, and Capvt Mvndi (no idea how that is pronounced) is the perfect outro to the album with it’s folk-y intro into an orchestral grand opening and around the halfway mark it goes full middle east folk (I can imagine a belly dancer in a king’s guest room.) and then goes back to the metal mood with two harmonizing guitars, and finally an ending that feels like a proper end to an adventure that took a lot of energy off you and you can see the finish line.
The bonus track Ya Beirut, a cover of the Lebanese singer Majida El Roumi’s song, which for an Arabic metalhead is an amazing transformation of a pretty famous song into metal with amazing clean vocals of Cheryl Khayrallah and ends with the soul crushing growls of JP. But the original singer was not so happy with this and sued the band for using her copyright without permission and she called the song a disgrace and racist (huh?), but then again, death metal is not for everyone and there are still people in the Arab world that immediately link growl vocals to satanism (but this is a topic for another article.)
As a final verdict and to summarize the above, I’d say this album/band is a must listen for any death metal fan, while not pure death metal (I’d say it walks between folk, orchestral, gothic and melodic sub genres of death.) It still has a lot of themes that will please any metal fan. One of the highlights of this album is the superior quality of the production which some death metal bands don’t pay a lot of attention to. I’d give this album a 9/10 and I recommend it for anybody.