Imperial Triumphant's Ilya: Top 5 Albums That Influenced 'Alphaville' | Revolver

Imperial Triumphant's Ilya: Top 5 Albums That Influenced 'Alphaville'

Jazz, metal and jazzy metal
imperial triumphant Zach “Ilya” Ezrin GETTY 2019, Gonzales Photo/Peter Troest/PYMCA/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Imperial Triumphant's Ilya, 2019
photograph by Gonzales Photo/Peter Troest/PYMCA/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

"I love doing top-five-type lists," Imperial Triumphant vocalist, guitarist and all-around mastermind Zach "Ilya" Ezrin tells Revolver. With his band's latest genre-warping album, Alphaville, set to drop in late July — it's available for pre-order now in a highly limited, Revolver-exclusive "Ivory Towers" 2LP collector's edition — we figured we'd take deeper dive into the creative process behind the kaleidoscopic avant-garde opus by asking him to tell us, in top five form, what albums most influenced Imperial's new full-length. Fascinatingly, Ilya highlighted a mix of jazz, metal and jazzy metal recordings.

1. Portal - Ion

This album really impressed me. It shows a band capable of putting out fresh material five albums deep. They don't rehash their old ideas. I also really appreciate the attention to aesthetics that they put into every note. The quality matches their lyrical and visual concepts perfectly. Their ability to keep building higher in new interesting ways was a huge inspiration when constructing Alphaville.

2. Ornette Coleman - Skies of America

This piece is so unique. It stands apart from a lot of Ornette Coleman's better known work. The record flows so elegantly and the concept of atonality over dissonance influenced my guitar parts as well as the overall atmosphere of the record. I can definitely admit that it played a role in how we orchestrated the mellotron parts.

3. Cannibal Corpse - The Wretched Spawn

I could probably pick any Cannibal Corpse record, but this happens to be the one I'm listening to lately. What I've grown to appreciate the most about this band is how brilliantly they structure and arrange their songs. It's the best example of death metal that you can sing in your head. They've introduced technical death metal to a catchy chorus or a vocal hook. I think it's really creative, and we strived in Imperial to write songs that are recognizable and unique to themselves within an album such as Alphaville.

4. Duke Ellington - Money Jungle

This is an incredible record with a legendary lineup. What inspired me most on this album besides the tunes is bassist Charles Mingus' bass playing. His extended techniques used — for example, "Fleurette Africaine" — gave me a lot of ideas to apply to my guitar. Not only the techniques themselves but how they incorporated these sounds into a song was incredibly intriguing to me.

5. Metallica - Live at the Lyceum 1984

Records like this are what live albums are all about. Truly capturing the atmosphere of a band — in their prime — playing with pure attitude. Most of the songs on this live album I enjoy more than their studio counterparts. Some may not know this, but 90 percent of Alphaville was tracked live as a trio. Being able to capture the energy of three musicians playing together as one was a strong focus in the production.