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Unreqvited – Empathica Award winner

Unreqvited
Empathica
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 05 May 2020, 8:23 AM

UNREQVITED is a Post-Black, Post-Rock band that I have always found to be very unique. In fact, I normally link to the Bandcamp page to aspiring writers to use as a sample review, because of all the nuances that can be found in their music. The symbol used by the composer translates to “ghost” in English, and I know we are in for a fun ride here for sure. Prolific and unexampled, always has something of a surprise for you. The album contains seven tracks.

“Empathica I – Heart of the Spectral Mountains” opens the album. Some light Symphonic elements open this majestic sounding song, complete with gong strikes. Just when it starts to build, piano and keys take over the melody, with a slightly Eastern flair. It builds to a crescendo with horns and other instruments, before the sound drops to just howls of the wind. Coming back at you, it turns and sprints towards you with ferocity, then beautiful piano notes are followed by a full-on orchestration that is absolutely marvelous.

“Empathica II – Everwinter” is an eight-minute opus. Opening with charming clean guitars and a melancholy tone, you quickly are lost in the composition and everything else around you slowly fades to irrelevance. Soon, the Black Metal screams begin to wail in the background, but that gorgeous melody is still present. How much beauty can one pour into a song, without reducing you to tears? Take away the vocals, and you have this wonderful mosaic of stunning music that is both elegant and breathtaking at the same time. So many different instruments are used here to convey the message…it’s mind-boggling. It culminates in layers of sound that come at you from everywhere, then slowly fades out.

“Empathica III – Innocence” is the longest of the three opening tracks, at close to ten minutes in length. Piano notes carry the opening melody, while vocal chants occupy the background in just a whisper. Slowly, it picks up until a big riff hits at the two-minute mark. A flute picks up the melody, but there is so much else going on it’s hard to keep up with. It’s absolutely resplendent in its delivery, even with those screams in the background. The sound drops just after the half-way mark for just a spell but then the main riff returns. Several different melodies move the song forward. “Crystal Cascade” lets you know that the burning intensity of Black Metal is still very much alive in this band, as drums roll with thunder and that “wall of sound” is present. Beyond some screams, the main riff comes chugging in, with some Symphonic elements. As many of the songs have, that element of majesty is just so omnipresent here. To my knowledge, the composer hasn’t dabbled in Symphonic Black Metal to date, but man do they master it. Alternating passages of intensity with more ambient and pretty ones hit you hard and make you feel alive.

“Snowspirits of the Arcane” is a short four-minute track, that features clean guitars and a sense of the melancholy. The layered approach is dialed back a bit, in favor of a more straightforward riff that carries throughout the track. I think it’s a simple reprise from all of the heavy Symphonic tracks that came before it. “The Permafrost” is another shorter track created to provide pause again. Piano takes most of the melody along this forbidden journey into the dark recesses of the forest, and you don’t know if you will be coming back. In grand fashion, it crescendos at the end with every instrument but the kitchen sink, dropping absolute bombs of heaviness.

“Dreamer’s Hideaway” closes the album. Opening with soft piano and keys, it has a real sense of longing. It begins to slowly build, with whispered clean vocals in the background, and some other instruments joining in. The title of the song matches perfectly with the sound. You feel as if you’ve drifted off in dream in a place that is special to you, and only you know about. Love and peace are all that is there…a sense of belonging. It’s a fitting ending for an absolutely beautiful album.

Overall, the composer here who shall remain anonymous raises the roof here with “Empathica” to impossible heights. He is very structured in the way he composes the music but that is nearly preposterous when you consider the amount of layers he uses along with the sheer number of different instruments. Gorgeous melodies abound…to the point that is nearly overwhelms you. I haven’t been moved by an album like this so far in 2020, and at nearly half way through the year it has to be mentioned as a contender for “album of the year.”

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Empathica I – Heart of the Spectral Mountains
2. Empathica II – Everwinter
3. Empathica III – Innocence
4. Crystal Cascade
5. Snowspirits of the Arcane
6. The Permafrost
7. Dreamer’s Hideaway
Lineup:
– Everything
Record Label: Northern Silence Productions
     


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