Released: 2008, Dynamic Arts Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
It´s the time for some unusual attempts to make your metal to sound...´different´, I guess. Shade Empire, this sort of hybrid of symphonic black metal, industrial elements, electronics, even bits of the sounds of saxophone - a bit of everything really, have finally unleashed their 3rd full-length album, carrying the title ZERO NEXUS, which is also supposed to be the band´s first ever concept album (haven´t sunk into the lyrics yet, so cannot tell what ZERO NEXUS is all about lyrically, sorry folks!).
On ZERO NEXUS, the band has stepped into new yet somewhat complex musical dimensions, making it all even tougher for listeners to get into. In fact, there´s nothing that easy on offer in their songs on ZERO NEXUS due to these guys´ determined drive to make the band to sound as unique and original as possible. Of course this masterplan seems to be working for them; they have reached that level now which surely gives them more value as a band that has chosen to do whatever they feel like doing within a certain musical box, full of different elements. But then again, becoming way too tricky with the musical elements that you have got in your hands, may not always be such a cool thing. To venture into too complex territories, you may just ´loose it´ if you know what I´m saying here? I think that´s what has happened in ZERO NEXUS´ case, at least partly. Let´s face it: With less electronics, industrial-tinged parts and other ´weird´ shit, the whole album would have worked out much better, I think. Don´t read me wrong, however. I do love what they do in such songs as "Blood Colors the White", "Flesh Relinquished" (probably my favorite track off ZERO NEXUS; heavy, atmospheric and simply catchy as fuck - reminding me of Covenant on their first album), "Harvester of Hate" and "Serpent-Angel". Atmosphere and simplicity are the keywords for all of these 4 aforementioned songs, yet the songs are complex enough to make them stand out for everyone of those who enjoy bands as Covenant, Dimmu Borgir, Ram-zet and the likes. "Ecstasy of Black Light" goes musically toward the same symphonic fields where for example a band like Nightwish have wandered for ages already. Thanks to the similar sounding, pompous choirs to Nightwish´s in this particular song.
ZERO NEXUS is an innovative and even experimental opus of metal hybrids, but unfortunately sounds a bit unfocused and lacking a clear direction. It also needs to be said that Shade Empire have lots of strong potential hiding behind them, so maybe all that can be channeled a bit more focused way on their next release? Time will tell, of course...