Exactly what happened to Imperial Triumphant between 2010 EP “Obeissance” and 2012, when debut full-length “Abominamentvm” followed? Diabolic pact? Alien abduction? Absinthe binge? A decent pizza? Whatever it was, a New York trio proficient in old-school Scandinavian black metal transformed into an estimable, unpredictable avant-garde force — and “Abyssal Gods” shows that the metamorphosis has continued and even accelerated. That the group is compared most frequently to Deathspell Omega and Gorguts, two of extreme music’s most iconic outliers, indicates the lofty heights that vocalist-guitarist Ilya Ezrin, bassist Erik Malhave, and drummer Alex Cohen have scaled with their dense brew of rhythmic complexity, textural dissonance, and ponderous melancholy. Joined here by Secret Chiefs 3 drummer Kenny Grohowski, Imperial Triumphant has never sounded so dense or strange; more importantly, the band’s disparate impulses and influences cohere better than ever. The sepulchral chant and Mayhem-esque histrionics of “Krokodil,” the blasphemously titled instrumental interludes, even that already notorious ukulele break on “Opposing Holiness” — somehow, it all just sticks. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Dead Heaven”Steve Smith can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @nightafternight.