Thursday, October 1, 2020


Black Rock Review: The Impaler – A Contract…

September 5, 2020 by  
Filed under Ent., Music, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) We’re going to look at a cult piece of Black rock in A Contract With Satan by The Impaler. I first discovered Anison Roberts—who performs as The Impaler—by chance while looking through playlists on Spotify.

Anison Roberts AKA The Impaler

It was both different and familiar. The Impaler’s approach puts me in the mind of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins without the dynamic range but it also had a different vibe because it was mix of gothic themes and relatable street life.

The Impaler is a Black University of Michigan graduate who has a wife, kids, and grandkids. However, in the 1980s when gothic rock, hardcore punk, new wave, and metal were all staking claims in the U.S, Anison Roberts moved through each scene. He loves music and took to different genres readily but it was gothic rock and hardcore punk that really grabbed him.

He remained in that scene and became something of a personality. As the cape-wearing The Impaler, he is the singer of N-2 Submission and Dangerous Pleasure.

Black Rock Review: The Impaler – A Contract With Satan

This brings us to A Contract With Satan, released in 2015. By this time The Impaler had been performing live for decades and had released an album called Dark Paradise which features some of the songs here.  The album is a mix of death rock—an offshoot of goth rock and new wave—and industrial rock.

Basically, this is the music that would’ve been played on the original Charmed or any film featuring vampires or a cyberpunk theme during the mandatory club scene. Now, the first I listened to this, it kind of threw me off because of how deep the leader singer’s voice is.

The Impaler’s cadence works for this kind of music but I’m more familiar with conventional singing whereas The Impaler’s approach is heavily spoken word. That makes a lot of the songs have this narrative approach which presents Anison Robert’s alter-ego as a dark, street-wise version of Alfred Hitchcock or Vincent Price.

Songs such as “There’s A Noise in the Dead Man’s Room,” “Under Donna’s Command,” and “Jack Is On The Loose Tonight” take crime that would impact the lower class and below and presents them as modern horror.

This is basically the same approach of Memphis, Houston, and the west coast-brands of horrorcore hip-hop. The Impaler just managed to make it darker and not as gritty or graphic and presented it in a different genre.

A Contract With Satan - The Impaler

Standout Tracks

There are a few standout tracks. Oddly, the three versions of “The Deal” are all solid but I prefer the metal version which opens the digital edition of the album. The original would fall second. It’s a song that could be interpreted as a vampiric contract or a bondage agreement. The Impaler’s vocals are that of a sinister, indifferent master telling the listener what the agreement is.

“There’s A Noise in the Dead Man’s Room” is a really good horror track that I’d say is one of the best on the album. The star of the album for me is “Jack Is On the Loose Tonight.” It’s basically describing if Jack the Ripper was in the modern day.

During the period when some of these songs were probably originally written, it wouldn’t be totally imaginary. That said, it’s the strongest song on the album and has awesome atmosphere to it where the electronica element of industrial rock is really pronounced.

I’m not the biggest fan of industrial rock, industrial metal, or nu metal but this song really works with that approach. If there are two songs to check out just to pique your curiosity—because this is a strange album—I’d say “Jack Is On the Loose Tonight” and “The Deal” (Metal Version) are the best picks.

If those two songs catch you, you’ll check out the rest of the album just see what’s going on.

Impressions

I was impressed on subsequent listens because it’s rare that you get rock that really hits at a street level from Black artists. Music is an escape with rock being particularly flexible, it allows you to get away from the things around you and go to other places and times real or imaginary.

A Contract With Satan embraces street stories and mixes in sexual fetishes and some horror and it’s an approach that works for me. It’s something I’d been looking for and it’s awesome to find this. Musically—as a total package—it’s a solid album.

I’d like to hear this as an occult rock or psychedelic rock album. I could even hear it as a doom metal project with The Impaler’s vocal delivery. You’d think “There’s no way this could work” but this could be a sleeper. I can truly see this album surprising me in the same way Fratello Metallo—the heavy metal monk—did.

I won’t say this is a must listen album, it’s a curiosity. It’s an album with a weird vibe and risky approach for this time in music but often times the oddest things are the most interesting.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.


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