Review : IMAGIKA – "Portrait of a Hanged Man"

ImagikaPortrait of a Hanged Man
released March 19, 2010 on Metalville Records

Rating: 4/5

I don’t not recall Imagika‘s 2008 effort Feast for the Hated; it must have just been a rough reviewing day, and fell by the wayside without much of a chance. Scouring the interwebs, they seem minimally covered by everyone from Allmusic to Encyclopaedia Metallum, so I am not the only one overlooking these seventeen-year vets of the Bay Area thrash circle. This, their seventh album, has reopened my ears.

They erupt out of the gate with “Scared to Death”, which takes a couple of preliminary swipes before trampling right over you. Now I enjoyed myself for the next couple of songs, but really felt that “G.H.B.” rounds Imagika‘s bases best in the first half. It is a fantastic American power thrash anthem, featuring wicked solos from all axes present, with a solid chorus accompanied by gang vocals.

And speaking of vocals, we need to take a moment and recognize Norman Skinner. This man controls a range channelled straight from Warrel Dane (Nevermore) and Chuck Billy (Testament), circa 1997. Beyond that, his ability to seamlessly shift between these styles is easily among the best I have heard.

The only problems I have are mere quibbles – like the odd percussion sounds around the middle of “My Final Hour” – which do not slow down the proceedings. Imagika leaves a lot to love, and that is more important.

But talk about saving the best for last! King Diamond‘s Andy La Rocque – who also mixed the album – lends a great guest guitar solo to the instrumental “A God No More”. This leads into highlight “Halo of Flies”, and if you can get your hands on a Portrait of a Hanged Man first digipack pressing, the imposing “Shadow of The Cross” awaits at the end. Imagika went from being idly rejected to staking a solid claim in my memory.

FCC OK
Try 1, 4, 7, 10, 11

01. Scared To Death
02. The Hit
03. Keep The Wolves At Bay
04. G.H.B.
05. Portrait Of A Hanged Man
06. Simple Servant
07. One Word
08. My Final Hour
09. A God No More (feat. Andy La Rocque)
10. Halo Of Flies
11. Shadow of The Cross (first-run digipack bonus track)

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