EMPYRIUM – A Retrospective

To say that now defunct EMPYRIUM never received the level of publicity that it deserved is a given. Making their debut in 1996 with A Wintersunset, EMPYRIUM emerged as part of the neo-folk/dark metal movement that was largely, yet quietly, pioneered by the roster of artists on Prophecy Productions. The band decided to call it a day after the release of Weiland in 2002 and this release serves as an introduction compilation to new listeners as well as offering something new for old fans. A Retrospective features remastered tracks taken from all four of the band’s studio albums along with two unreleased new tracks, “Der Weiher” and “Am Wolkenstieg,” as well as a newly arranged and recorded version of “The Franconian Woods in Winter’s Silence.” For starters, EMPYRIUM‘s sound is characterized by a prominent use of neo-folk acoustic guitars and some keyboards, strings, and wind instruments along with the standard electric instrumentation. The deeply soulful, melancholic, and majestic atmospheres are further enhanced with ominous, sublime vocals and, at times, an almost doom-like pace. The song order as well as song selection work well to provide a seamless listening experience from beginning to end. To put things into relative terms, the band may draw some similarities to OPETH at their most acoustic, the atmospheres of early BORKNAGAR, the doom of early KATATONIA, mid-era BATHORY, and labelmates, TENHI. However, these parallels are just somewhat shallow reference points. EMPYRIUM were not one of the greats but they were a damn fine one that made their mark with their unique sound. A Retrospective is the perfect gateway drug for those who missed the train the first time around but are ready to learn about an entire world that they never knew existed. (Prophecy Productions)

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