Reviewed: March, 2021
Released: February 26, 2021, Prophecy Productions
Reviewer: The Elitist Metalhead
Germany’s Empyrium has had an impressive career spanning almost three decades now. Formed in 1994 they are a symphonic folk/doom band that has gotten a lot of great reviews but never seemed to get the recognition they deserved. They did split in 2006 only to reform in 2010. So now 2021 brings us their most recent full length, UBER DEN STERNEN, translated to mean Over The Stars and what we have here is a nice mix of Neofolk, doom metal with just enough black metal influences to make it all work. Being I was not all that familiar with their earlier work prior to hearing this album, I was kind of intrigued as to how they would make this all work and although this is far from a perfect album, I still believe this to be a good introduction to the band.
The album itself has a melancholy feel as the album opener, “The Three Flames Sapphire” begins with an acoustic guitar and the cry of a lonely cello until the the tempo picks up and some operatic tenor vocals take over. As we weave our way through this song, I begin to hear the distinct layers within the song. I have to tell you, it took a few listens before this warmed up to me. The acoustic guitars are up front while the electric guitars are slightly buried. This is more folk driven and has a really nice atmosphere until we get to the five and half minute mark where it builds nicely to an epic black metal feel with harsh vocals over melodic riffs. The use of the flute figures a lot into this and other songs on the album, adding another layer to the songs. In contrast, “A Lucid Tower Beckons on the Hills Afar” comes in much heavier and is a much more metal song. It’s a hybrid of doom and black metal with some cool keys mixed in. The cleans are operatic tenor voices in perfect harmony. Once again we slow it down in the middle to acoustic guitars and whispers. This almost reminds me of very early Opeth in places.
Another cool thing about this album is how the song just segue right into the next taking you on a journey. While each song can stand alone, as a whole this album will have the listener get lost in the songs. Some are peaceful and mellow while others are huge and epic. As you absorb each song you are only moving closer to the crescendo that is the title track and album closer. As it begins you can hear the epic riffs over the strings and keys while the harsh vocals are backed by the tenor choirs. Yeah, this is goosebump shit here…and as fast as it began it stops with only an acoustic guitar playing melodically then bursting into epic territory again. The atmosphere of this allows you to get lost in this song not realizing that ten and half minutes have gone by as you’ve travelled….over the stars.