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Album Reviews : Empyrean – Quietus

By on December 7, 2008

It’s possibly your worst nightmare, and severe psychological damage will be inflicted after listening to this hauntingly atmospheric issue of Symphonic Black Metal courtesy of Empyrean, from Brisbane, Australia. Titled ‘Quietus’, meaning release from life, this Queensland sextet have used the past year and a half since the release of their debut EP to develop and mature their sound.

To kick proceedings off on the album we are provided with a genuinely haunting and moody four minute instrumental that could easily pass for the opening credits of the latest murder/horror movie… or strangely, even Harry Potter. It has got some sort of magical quality to it which will set a scene in your mind, of tall dark pine forests, mossy ground cover, and a magician in the background holding a scythe, or something equally humorous in a “I’m going to kill you” kind of way.

With the emergence of the first proper track on Quietus, it delivers in class and impression everything I expected, multiplied exponentially. Sheer power and darkness flowing from the band member’s hearts, out their pores and direct to the recording desk like the spirit of Emperor meets Bathory meets Dimmu Borgir. Bombastic yet ghostly, contradicting words maybe, but perfectly fitting I feel to describe this huge and atmospheric sound. Symphonic would be the other main descriptive, with the keyboards continually setting this mood throughout the album.

After only using harsh black metal style vocals on their debut release, vocalist James Hill and the band have made an interesting choice to include clean vocals at varying stages throughout ‘Quietus’ and it has paid off well. At no time does Hill over extend his voice, and at all times do they fit in nicely with the moment in each song. Unfortunately at the time of this review’s publication I haven’t been able to read through the lyrics, however judging from the song titles, there is presumably a lyrical connection between all tracks – something I’m certainly keen to delve into as soon as I can.

As the album progresses, a couple of standouts appear to my ears. ‘Raped and Dying’ offers an evil cabaret style melody permeating through it, and it’s probably the catchiest hook the band has written so far. I also note that the band has re-recorded a track off their debut EP. ‘Pleasure of Another’s Pain’, one of the finest off the EP, this time appears heavier due to a much better mix and beefed up guitar tones. The song itself has not changed dramatically compared to the EP version, which is perfectly fine as the song itself is great and now much improved.

The other standout to me is the penultimate track on the album titled ‘When the Sky Turned’. With its doomy piano intro quickly making way for a simple yet very effective riff and the deep vocals. Half way through the track the song progresses from straight out Empyrean black metal to an epically triumphant conclusion. Really this song would have fitted perfectly as the closing track on the album; however that is tough justice on the outro track ‘Quietus’, as it also has finishing qualities.

Empyrean went into this record starting from an already impressive footing based on their debut EP, and it’s a pleasure to see that on ‘Quietus‘ the band has further matured. In no uncertain terms have they improved both in song writing, and the production of the album has risen tenfold in class. In all its powerful and eloquent majesty, check this record out now! 9/10

‘Quietus’ will be released in Australia on December 12, 2008. The album is available to pre-order now from www.myspace.com/empyreanband.

Band: Empyrean
Album: Quietus
Year: 2008
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal
Label: TBA
Origin: Brisbane, Australia
http://www.myspace.com/empyreanband

Track listing:
1. Prelude
2. From Whence the Mourning Came
3. Halls of Sorrow
4. Pleasure of Another’s Pain
5. Shackled Within
6. Raped and Dying (Reviewer’s Choice)
7. Waves of Tomorrow
8. Through Death and Beyond
9. When The Sky Turned
10. Quietus

Reviewed by Brendan Amos

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