Empyrium – The Turn Of The Tides (2014) – Another band who hasn’t released anything in over a decade, German Neo-folk act Empyrium finally decided to get the band back together which resulted in this; The Turn Of The Tides. Most of the record is quite dark, yet beautiful as is expressed in the disc’s impressive opener “Savior 6:32.” Reminding me a little of darkwave channeled through folk, this experiment turns out quite grandiose and in some ways quite heavy as well. “Dead Winter Ways 5:27” actually offers the heaviest offering on the album, with majestic riffs and some growls for the first time in years. I really would have liked to hear more of those growls (he’s still got it) on this release, but this one gives me at least a sense of doom/death with heavy symphonics that I would consider one of my personal favorite tracks among many others here. To tell you the truth, I enjoyed a great deal of The Turn Of The Tides, even though I’ve read one review from a guy who thought it wasn’t quite like their old material. Nor did I expect it to be, as the band is clearly showing a much darker side of themselves, while remaining as timeless as ever. “In The Gutter Of This Spring 7:00” brings in a couple of electronic beats (further influencing my beliefs about darkwave music being a huge influence on the recording) as heavy riffs eventually creep up into the mix and take me by complete surprise. Now that really is fucking beautiful. “We Are Alone 3:16” brings in the sad piano for about far too long unfortunately, yet it also seems to serve as a slight interlude before “The Days Before The Fall 5:38” which I know I’ve heard somewhere before. I’m not sure if this is a cover or a re-recording or a brand new track altogether, but I remember hearing this before somewhere. It reminds me a little of Lord Of The Rings, or possibly one of the songs from The Hobbit. At any rate, it’s a beautiful folk track and another definite highlight on the album. Guitars crept up towards the end of the track, but when they did it really brought the performance home, delivering an effort that won’t be long forgotten. “With The Current Into Grey 7:32” brings back the electronics, as some starry riff melodies waltz their way into the track, disappear and then come back in to serenade the piece up until it’s glorious end. The final track here is of course the album’s title track (8:04), which serves as a misty number with light melodies and subdued vocals that sometimes escape into vocal harmonizing. It’s quite atmospheric and the spoken word vocals add to that feeling. Yet this is where the journey ends, and it was truly satisfying throughout. As a whole, The Turn Of The Tides showcases Empyrium at their most darkwave influenced, with electronics creeping in, yet still signs of metal that erupt in glorious guitar melodies. Though growls only appear one time on the album, it is truly essential and worth checking out for fans like myself, who had been expecting this album for quite a long time. I used to put these records on before I went to bed at night, and they still create a somber mood in which one can relax before the start of a new day. The Turn Of The Tides is best listened to at night, when the moon is out and the lights are turned off. Not even a candle needs to be lit while experiencing this dark and atmospheric masterpiece. Yet I would expect nothing less from Empyrium.
(7 Tracks, 43:00)