Sound — 8
Imperial China give progressive rock an experimental-bent catacomb in laser-like guitar shreds, bangles of trippy sonic effects, and cuts of industrial-strength flurries reflective of Nine Inch Nails crossed with Radiohead on the band's new CD, Phosphenes from Sockets/Ruffian Records. The rock trio of Imperial China dabble in explosive space rock flairs and video game-heightened cinematics in tracks like Mortal Wombat and All That Is Solid. Their music is laden with electro-charged surges and stubbly guitar shears like in Corrupting The Integrity Of The Grid as the band projects a galactic showering reminiscent of Hot Chip, while the trippy chillwave particles of Go Where Airplanes Go filament chambers of spacey vibrations that communicate in an outer-world dialectic. The rapid discharges fired along The Last Starfighter emit a punk rock clamor as guitarist/bassist Matt Johnson and drummer Patrick Gough whip around the fervent thrashing of vocalist/keyboardist Brian Porter. The blustery psychedelics of Letter Of A General produce thundering swirls spliced by the ragged splashing of the cymbal strikes which transform to a burly crunching in Bananamite as Porter's sharp vocal jabs bite into the slabs of molten guitar shreds. The cauldron of coiling distortions along A Modern Life flare up and recede capriciously reverberating into eerie echoes that course moments of heightened anxiety and breaks of dormancy which settle into a calm, trippy spiraling through Invincible. Imperial China show the makings of avant-clutched power rock using the principles of experimental punk, trance, and improvisation carving a niche for themselves in prog rock's terrain, and producing music that communicates on an outer-this-world plane.
Lyrics — 8
The language used in the songs lyrics make sense to regular folks and relatable to their lives like in Letter Of A General when Porter says, What can I say / We just scratched the surface. The symbolism in the words has a colloquial-slant such as, Things aren't what they seem from The Last Starfighter, and Walking up in my sleep / Do you hear that sound Go where airplanes go. The chorus for Invincible makes a reference to the album's title Phosphenes when Porter tells, We are phosphenes / We bring in new life. Phosphenes is the effect of seeing light without light actually entering the eye, like when you rub your eyes while they are closed and see light against the wall of your eyelid. The symbolism in the song lyrics allude to seeing light or hope through complete darkness.
Overall Impression — 8
Imperial China's music has a murky consistency reflective of Nine Inch Nails' dark, craggy guitar distortions and industrial-soaked atmospherics. The trio seem to combine their musical influences with bouts of improvisations and flights of impulsive shredding. They create a power rock alloy fused with avant elements made by layering glaring sound effects over a punk rock rumble. It's an album with an eccentric-slant emblematic of the turmoil projected in the parallel universes depicted in the movie Avatar and the video game Witchcraft. The album's cinematic scope produces massive blusters which blows listeners away while keeping their attention fixated on the jaunting motions of the sonic flairs.