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Empyrium - Über den Sternen Award winner

Über den Sternen
by Barbie Rose at 23 March 2021, 2:37 AM

From Hendungen Bavaria Germany - and first formed in 1994, EMPYRIUM released “Über den Sternen” on February 26 2021. Previous releases include “Der Wie Ein Blitz Vom Himmel Fiel” - (a Demo) - 1995; “A Wintersunset” - 1996; ”Songs of Moore & Misty Fields” - 1997; ”Where At Night The Wood Grouse Plays” - 1997; “Drei Auszug aus Weiland”  - 1999; “Weiland” - 2002, “A Retrospective” - 2006; “Into The Pantheon” - (audio) 2013; “Into The Pantheon” (video) - 2013; “Dean Winter Ways - (single) 2013; “Bochum | Christuskirche” - Live 2012; “Turn Of The Tides - 2014; “1994 - 2004” - 2014; and lastly, “The Mill” - 2015.

“The Three Flames Sapphire” - the initial album track opens with acoustic guitar playing a melodic arpeggiation with harmonic passing tones. Just after one minute, mildly aggressive drums rhythmically accentuate the dramatic melody with a three feel within a twelve-eight time signature. At twenty after three minutes, arpeggiated acoustic guitar returns with occasional bass accompaniment.  Floor toms occasionally accompany the rhythmic arpeggiation of the acoustic guitar - musically tasteful & perfectly befitting the song program. At about half past the five minute mark, mildly distorted guitars enter, more for dramatic effect than that of the  aggressive, and slow guitar leads ornament harmony, while mildly growling vocals add slight aggression. Flute sounds enter a bit before the seventh minute into this folkish, yet pithy & dramatic style of metal.

“A Lucid Tower Beckons On The Hills Afar” - the second album track opens with electric guitar arpeggiation, a distorted & drastically heavier rhythm guitar, and a legato, flowing bass line that moves with a three fell–the bass line may reminisce “Blinded” by “QUEENSRYCHE”.  The song slows for vocal growling, then by the first minute the vocals cease growling as the distorted rhythm guitar fades into the background, and, with an open throat, replete with echoes of reverb and delay - for Ulf Theodore Schwadorf & Thomas Helm to vocally annunciate an obscure theme. The song then breaks to a more “air of mystique” with superfluous amounts of reverb & delay - and slowly plucked guitar strings to indicate a tonal base (through additional slow & subtle fragmentations of the melody).

“The Oaken Throne” - the third album track opens with slow use of undistorted electric guitar arpeggiation while drums maintain a slow tempo. Slow thematic leads indicate fragments of a melody–shortly after to be resumed & further developed by vocals. At about half past four minutes, mildly distorted muted rhythm guitar chunks along at a moderate tempo with a second guitar track adding fragmental motives of the song theme; of course, this rhythm guitar ornaments the drums - the driver of this rhythmic cadence that draws us from the airy evocation of pith, adding subtle hints of percussive accent. The tempo slightly increases as we are further drawn into reflective portions of the song finale.

“Moonrise” - the fourth album track opens with acoustic guitar arpeggiation amidst subtle keyboards mixed with further bouts of airy reverb & delay. At about one minute thirty seconds, the acoustic guitar opens into a series of subtle tonal motion–moving along with whole steps that serve as augmented escape tones that, utilizing the divided beat, ascend to descend and descend to ascend - I’m really enjoying this. This is tonal but harmonic progressions are entirely unique and enchantingly melodic.  Innovation pervades throughout “Moonrise” - my favorite album track.

“The Archer” - the fifth album track opens with a slow subtle drum beat for acoustic guitars to utilize open intervals (major seconds or ninths) against the tonic root. The song is quite subdued - which elongated vocal phrases sustain; at about half past three minutes, flute sounds resume the phrases allowing the vocals to fade.

“The Wild Swans” - the sixth album track opens with synthesized sounds reminiscent of flutes over a minor progression - floor toms mark the time with a subtle beat until about thirty seconds into the song, at which point distorted guitars enter with growling vocals. Drums dramatize percussive accentuation of this more aggressive program for the duration of the first minute. The tempo slows and the distortion fades while voices switch from growling to open throat singing.  At the third minute - drums fade to the sound of synthesized flutes with extensive reverb.  Drums with distorted electric guitars return–more for dramatic context than aggression. Different styles of vocalizations tracks enter; and by five minutes thirty seconds the drums enter into a stylistic cadence. At about six minutes, synthesized sounds from the keyboards (bass notes) enter with slow open throat vocals.

“In The Morning Mist” - the seventh album track opens with an incredibly slow beat on the drums with trebblized guitar sounds electronically processed with additional yet extensive bouts of reverb. “Über den Sternen” - the eighth album track opens with a slow drum beat, and heavily distorted guitars–but without any sort of pretentious speed.  At about one minute ten seconds, drums pause - for acoustic guitars, with subtle bass accompaniment, devoid of major or minor tonality) utilizing seconds & ninths.  At about two minutes forty seconds, drums resume with heavy yet slow unmuted yet distorted rhythm guitar while keyboards convey an orchestral string section sound. At about twenty seconds before five minutes, drums begin to accentuate with crash cymbals, while distorted guitars add fragmental thematic components of melody.  Drums stop before six minutes; vocals (as though a small chorus of distant males) harmonize a background while the bass (bass guitar) hints toward a fragmental melody accompanied by fragmented intervals on the acoustic guitar strings–usually with single notes or elongated double stops. At about eight minutes a slow drum beat returns with distorted electric guitars (more for dramatic effect); vocals mix growling and open throat styles. Keyboards synthesize an orchestral string section as the song ends.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. The Three Flames Sapphire
2. A Lucid Tower Beckons On The Hills Afar
3. The Oaken Throne
4. Moonrise
5. The Archer
6. The Wild Swans
7. In The Morning Mist
8. Über den Sternen
Ulf Theodore Schwadorf - Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Drums, Percussion
Thomas Helm - Keyboards, Piano Vocals
Record Label: Prophecy Productions


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Edited 26 March 2023

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