Imagika – Portrait of a Hanged Man
released March 19, 2010 on Metalville Records
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.
Try 1, 4, 7, 10, 11
01. Scared To Death
02. The Hit
03. Keep The Wolves At Bay
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)