Empyrium – The Turn of the Tides (Prophecy Productions)Tuesday, 12th August 2014
Emotive Bavarian folksters Empyrium, a band releasing high quality material dating back to 1996, return with their first full-length in twelve years on The Turn of the Tides. Where they were once noted for their predominant European folk influences, they have evolved into a band more reliant on neoclassical sounds, and though not containing much which would be generically pegged as “metal”, the darkness and sorrow remain as the commonality.
Musically, The Turn of the Tides is a grand affair of deep and textured washes of melancholy coming from luxurious orchestration, piano and both electric and acoustic guitars. Vocally, this duo employ deep operatic male vocals, cleanly sung across these haunting passages. Present as well for emphasis in the darker, heavier sections are some limited black metal screams – just the right amount, used in good balance.
Very reliant on piano, this album is certainly a slow-paced and mellow experience. Don’t gear up to thrash whatsoever, rather, this one perhaps might sound best on a rainy night, by candlelight. There is a sorrowful romanticism here, full of both longing and beauty. With gravity, the music is enveloping and completely a mood-changer. It’s an album to get swept into.
Highlights include “In the Gutter of This Spring” with a heavy driving groove and ethereal guitars stretched over vocals that seem as though they are carried on the wind. Album best “With the Current Into Grey” is peaceful but powerful, with a terribly catchy vocal melody and a spacious atmosphere. Speaking of atmosphere, that’s the great asset on the album. It’s so thick and nearly impossible to resist. Unless of course, dark, lovely and haunting vibes aren’t your thing, in which case, look elsewhere.
The Turn of the Tides is a slow burner and an absolute grower. When given a few reps and allowed time to breathe, the reward is great. A wonderful listen start to finish, its value lies in its ability to command and dictate a mood so liquid and serenely heavy.