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Empyreal - My Own Living Hell Award winner

My Own Living Hell
by James Brizuela at 10 September 2019, 6:08 AM

EMPYREAL, hailing from the lands of Germany, come forth with their first full-length album “My Own Living Hell”. Formed back in 2012 as a solo/studio project by Dennis Schneider, the band was nameless for most of the earlier stages of the music. EMPYREAL was born from the live version of the earlier music. “My Own Living Hell” offers up a beautifully blended sound of blackened death metal with elements of thrash, power, and post black metal. What an album! EMPYREAL hit the ground running and offer up a brutal and tight nit sound. I was flabbergasted by the pure musicianship of the album. The initial first five tracks of the album suck you in completely. I found myself appreciating all the nuances and tempo changes offered. “Meant To Cease” comes in with a beautiful guitar medley that immediately turns into a face-paced brutal song. With brutal blast beats and blistering guitar riffs, EMPYREAL shows you exactly what they are working with. I’m a huge fan of the underlying backing vocals that add a more thrash-like element to the music. I love when chanting vocals are used correctly. It adds so much more power. I love that every track on this album gives you a differing taste of the musical prowess that EMPYREAL has to offer.

An Ascent To Heaven” brings in the more prototypical black metal sound, but with some deeper gutter growls. The track is not as fast as the previous but offers up some impressive guitar solos. Even when the tonality of the album shifts to a power metal feel, the mastery in the music stays impressive. Like in “The Abyss (My Own Living Hell)”, the tempo slows down a bit but offers so many layers to be appreciated. There is a flurry of tempo changes that are blended so well together. Fun little factoid about “Demons Of Despair”, the lyrics are based off the poem “Despair”, by HP Lovecraft. I love when bands use intertextuality in music. The track has a way more power metal feel to it, plus you get to enjoy some poetry with brutal music.

As the album continues into the second half, there is a beautiful instrumental interlude in “And So It Was Forlorn”. The track starts off with a slower tempo but then creeps its way into a heavier and faster sound. Basically, offering a perfect summation of EMPYREAL's sound. Fast, technical, beautiful, and brutal.  I would say the back half of the album offers up more the prototypical black metal sound. “The Light” slows things down a bit, but the music still packs a punch. “The Bliss Of Blind Men” brings in the same tonality, a slower tempo with a touch of the brutal fastness that the beginning tracks offered. There is some great guitar work done in the track. The thing that blows me away about this band, is their ability to showcase so much depth in the nuances of the tracks. “Final Warning” brings in the more thrash-like sound. It is a fast-paced unrelenting gut punch. I found myself non-stop headbanging to this one. This is what is so impressive about Empyreal. They don’t rely simply on one style of music. They blend in so many sub-genres in a cohesive brilliant way.

My Own Living Hell” is an incredibly well put together album. EMPYREAL invokes intelligent design of multiple styles and tonality to deliver a beautifully masterful sound. The fact that this is an independent release speaks volumes to their musicianship. The production value is through the roof, and the fact that there is so much going on musically, you can sit back and just be blown away by it all. I’ll have this on repeat for days to come.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

1. Meant to Cease
2. An Ascent to Heaven
3. The Abyss (My Own Living Hell)
4. December Rain
5. Demons of Despair
6. And so it was Forlorn
7. The Light
8. The Bliss of Blind Men
9. Final Warning
10. Streams of Time
Dennis Schneider – Guitars, Vocals
Michael Bachmann – Vocals
Johnathan Keller – Drums
Heiko Heckner – Bass
Tobias Gold – Guitars
Record Label: Independent


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