Seven Impale - Contrapasso album review

Dizzying, all-areas prog from the Scandinavian sextet Seven Impale

Seven Impale - Contrapasso album cover

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In theory, metal and jazz might not appear to be the cosiest of bedfellows. But bands such as Conflux, Meshuggah, The Mars Volta and Shining have all proved it can be a devastating coupling. The latest group to harness this fusion are Shining’s Norwegian compatriots, Seven Impale, who are also clearly intent on turning it into a full-scale orgy. If 2014’s City Of The Sun hinted at a group with a wilful disregard for boundaries then this follow-up makes good on that promise.

These lengthy, often labyrinthine songs take all manner of digressions, as if the idea of staying in one place for too long might be detrimental to their health. Lemma opens like a bludgeoning metal monster, singer/guitarist Stian Økland sounding like a goth trapped in a cave, before the piece dissolves into freely associative jazz skronk. There are faintly classical elements in Serpentstone, a composition that shifts from atmospheric post-rock to heavy prog, while Inertia makes it a mission to sharpen the contrast between ambient passages and hard rock. Not everything works well, though they save the best till last with Phoenix, a meandering epic that combines minimal electronica with controlled explosions of guitar.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.