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Album Reviews : Shade Empire – Zero Nexus

By on June 5, 2008

Shade Empire’s third full length, “Zero Nexus”, is a brilliant mixture of too many different musical styles and influences to list. Luckily though, this album does not simple sound like a bunch of different genres one after another, it is all blended together really well to create a surprisingly consistent sound. I can see how the band is classed as “hybrid metal” as the musical styles really are fused together to create a complete sound.

To class the band as one, more recognisable genre is difficult, but I suppose melodic death metal is the closest thing. The album is full of very heavy riffing, an extremely powerful drum sound and a wide range of both clean vocals and growls, however this is counteracted by a variety of electronic and keyboard sounds which can give the songs a more avant-garde sound at times.

These electronic moments are where the album gets even more interesting. For most of the album, they complement the music very well and introduce some great melodies (which is an area the guitars are somewhat lacking), however there are times where it just seems unnecessary. A good example is the kind of techno beat during the beginning of 9 in 1. Luckily it’s only used for a short period of time before more brutal riffing kicks in, but it just sounds out of place and really isn’t needed. The epic, somewhat orchestral sounding keyboard parts and piano pieces are fantastic, but the occasional electronic beats I can live without.

Another interesting area is the vocals. Juha Harju’s deep growls are great and are a big part in making the album sound as heavy as it does without being too harsh on the ears. It’s when he goes a bit higher (such as on Flesh Relinquished) that it’s less impressive. He tries to go in a more black metal orientated direction with them, which at times sounds decent, but by the end they get a bit irritating. They are used too often and don’t make the overall sound any better than his deeper death growls would. Clean female vocals also make an appearance in several tracks. Luckily they aren’t overused like the black metal vocals and their placement is well thought out, particularly on the track Adam & Eve.

The epic finale, Victory, is the standout of the album and is the best song to listen to if you want to get an overall feel of the band from one track. An epic, somewhat gothic sounding intro begins a grand journey comprising of a death metal, avant-garde, progressive metal, gothic sounds and even jazz with a remarkable saxophone solo.

Overall, this is a very solid album. Some vocals and electronic parts are a bit iffy, and it wouldn’t hurt for the guitars to include a few more catchy melodies, but other than that it’s a nice, smooth blend of styles that creates a very entertaining final product. I highly recommend this to fans of melodic death metal and symphonic metal, and the final track (at least the last half) is well worth a listen from any fans of progressive music or jazz. 8/10

Band: Shade Empire
Album: Zero Nexus
Year: 2008
Genre: Progressive/Death Metal/Heavy Metal
Label: Dynamic Arts Records
Origin: Finland

Track Listing:
1. 9 in 1
2. Adam & Eve
3. Blood Colours the White
4. Flesh Relinquished
5. Harvesters of Death
6. Serpent-Angel
7. Whisper From the Depths
8. Ecstasy of Black Light
9. Victory <- reviewers choice


Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.