Empyrium – ‘Über den Sternen’ (2021)
Release: 26 February 2021
Label: Prophecy Productions
The waiting time of nearly 7 years will soon end and Empyrium will release on the 26.02.2021 their sixth Full-Lenght album “Über den Sternen”via Prophecy Productions. Empyrium already had been founded by Schwadorf in 1994 and was going since then through a lot of developments in their creativity period. Having their fundaments in the atmospheric black metal their first two releases “A Wintersunset…(1996)” and “Songs of Moors & Misty Fields (1997)” still had been influenced by their roots and included a lot of metal elements mixed with folk instruments, melancholy and beautiful melodies. Till today it is very hard to characterize the style of those two early releases of Empyrium, some say symphonic folk/doom metal, others place the band into the gothic genre and in my opinion Empyrium is too unique to assign them into any field. In 1999 Empyrium released their third album “Where at Night the Wood Grouse plays” in which the band was entering new fields in the genre of dark folk / neofolk focusing on accustic pieces leaving behind the metal elements. Furthermore on this third record the first time Thomas Helm was bringing in some classical singing and became since then the second constant member of the band. While Empyrium always was preferring to present their vocals in English in 2002 they released with “Weiland” their fourth full lenght record which had been a sole dark folk/neofolk album including German lyrics only. With their fifth record “The Turn of Tides” in 2014 Empyrium was setting their accent in the neo-classical music leaving as well aside almost all folk influences.
For this upcoming sixth full lenght album I think it quite important to recap the bands development so far, as what you will get is really outstanding and a mixture of the best attributes of Empyrium. They recollect their roots in metal music combining the same with dark folk / neofolk and classical vocals presented by Thomas Helm. Schwadorf is even partly coming back with some black metal screams and is closing therefore the circle of Empyrium’s history so far. Already the first song of this new album “The three flames of Sapphire” is bringing you the perfect fusion of all musical elements and is bewitching you with a melancholic base melody, which is supported by various folk elements as the violin, accustic guitar and flutes. Furthermore the outstanding performance of the classical chants of Thomas Helm and the strong voice of Schwadorf either whispering, singing or screaming on the metal parts is leading to goosebumps. On a “A Lucid Tower Beckons on the Hills Afar” Empyrium are speeding up the tempo and are delivering more pronounced metal parts, which are interplaying with very silent accustic parts, bringing again the uniqueness of their compositions in the foreground. With the next song “The Oaken Throne” the band is presenting exactly the opposite having a song which is stronly reminding me on their neo-classical attempts keeping the lead for wide distances to very slow accustic parts delivering again an outstanding interplay of both vocalists in order to end in a mid-tempo metal episode. The instrumental acoustic track “Moonrise” invites you to lay back for a moment and is not missing the typical melancholic characteristics of nearly all Empyrium songs. The following track “The Archer” continues in a slow tempo fitting perfectly to previous accustic piece and is just adding again very soft and wisely used symphonic and folk soundscapes abstaining from any metal parts, which are coming back with the next track “The Wild Swans”. Before the albums closes with the title track “Über den Sternen” you once again receive an instrumental piece, which focuses on the dark folk / neofolk elements again. “Über den Sternen” is not only the longest track of the record with 10:31 minutes, but also comes for me as kind of combination of all styles this new release represents. As the track is in German for me it is also a reference to “Weiland” and the track closes with the best attributes you can get. The lyrics themselves are carrying you away into the world of local sagas, places of worship and are strongly connected to nature.
To recap this album everything fits together and for me this is really the strongest release of Empyrium so far. The band was constantley followings its own way in going musically in different directions, which are now are now all combined in this new album. To be quite honest I always had been a fan of Empyrium, equally if they were playing folk/doom/gothic metal, dark folk or neo-classical songs. Whatever they did was done with a lot heart and dedication. For our platform, which is mainly focusing on “fierce & furies ” folk music as folk metal, medieval folk or speed folk/celtic folk the question arises if this release fits into our concept. But who cares! We just need to add “melancholic & slow” folk music into our port folio as well. The complexity of their compositions simply do not allow to put them in any genre. Empyrium is unique and all attempts to classify their music will fail. As a small remark to add is that the label of Empyrium Prophecy Productions and its foundation is going back to the debut of the band “A Wintersunset…” and is celebrating in 2021 their 25th anniversary. With this new release Prophecy has a further reason to celebrate. Happy Anniversary! For me there is no other choice to honour “Über den Sternen” with the full score and to thank Empyrium for their great efforts in creating such a masterpiece.
- The Three Flames Sapphire\A Ludid Tower Beckons on the Hills afar
- The Oaken Throne
- The Archer
- The Wild Swans
- In the Morning Mist
- Über den Sternen