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Empyrium - The Turn Of The Tides (2014) - Review

Band: Empyrium
Album title: The Turn Of The Tides
Release date: 18 July 2014
Label: Prophecy Productions

01. Saviour
02. Dead Winter Ways
03. In The Gutter Of This Spring
04. The Days Before The Fall
05. We Are Alone
06. With The Current Into Grey
07. The Turn Of The Tides

Twelve years have passed since Empyrium released their last studio album! Can you believe that? German duo which is considered to setting the standards in nature inspired dark metal with their first two albums, A Wintersunset... (1996) and Songs Of Moors And Misty Fields (1997), then with next two releases, Where At Night The Wood Grouse Plays (1999) and Weiland (2002), are responsible for activation of such a horde of followers who wanted to create nature influenced acoustic music inspired precisely by Empyrium. In 2010 Empyrium was back again with one track "The Days Before The Fall" which was featured on the compilation Whom The Moon A Nightsong Sings, and in 2011 the duo played its first ever gig, an event that their fans have been waiting for a long time. Now it's 2014 and yes, Schwadorf and Helm who have undergone both, an artistic and personal growth, are back victorius, with a masterpice, an album par-excellence.

The Turn Of The Tides is a collection of songs where natural ambiances and most deep feelings are set to music. This is an emotional journey where the only limit is time. It's caressing, but at the same time it shows the other, unknown, merciless side of existence. Ulf Theodor Schwadorf, known also from The Vision Bleak, Noekk, Autumnblaze,.. and Thomas Helm who's as well in progressive doom band Noekk, play with many different genres just to create their own melancholic, yet introspective version of melodic neofolk music. Both responsible for vocals, Helm with his deep operatic voice, and Schwadorf delivering gentle, yet profound spoken vocals and occasional shrieks, are in perfect symbiosis. It's difficult to give a rightly explanation of the sounds on this album, because I believe that everyone who'll listen to this album will be overwhelmed by different emotions. The Turn Of The Tides with its seven chapters is an intimate album that speaks to yourself with its immense expressionistic power and abstraction, addressing to the cycles within nature, tides of the sea, the change of seasons, circulation of water and human life, thus insinuates how everything rediscovers itself in everything.

It opens with gentle piano in "Saviour", and from there on the rest is a culmination where acoustic guitars, classical instruments, where needed heavy distorted guitar riffs, great atmospheres and extremely catchy melodies, great percussions, the perfection of subtle folk sounds, chants and gloomy synths, everything in its right place. Cold "Dead Winter Ways" conjures just that what the title says, starting similar to a most dark element Dead Can Dance ever did and then evolves in one ablazing venture of imense mighty soundscape. Melancholic "In The Gutter Of This Spring" with its gentle sparkly chords develops into one hell of a waving storm of post-rock-folk metal. At this point the album breaks in two with short, yet sad piano interlude "We Are Alone". The second half of The Turn Of The Tides is even more gloomy. The immaculate crescendos on "The Days Before The Fall" are simply breathtaking, there's such a dense and soothing ambiance that picks up hairs all over your body.

The last two tracks are a bit more post-rocking than the rest, but still keeping the pace of the album in a perfect equilibrium. The confrontation of narrow acoustic guitars and electrified guitar solos in "With The Current Into Grey" adds a lot to the dynamics of this journey, while the calm and dreadfull album title track takes us with its final notes into the wast deep ocean, just to make a rediscovery and return again in another form, reborn. Like forever trapped in a cycle of forever returning things, The Turn Of The Tides is a private matter of each listener, is a meditative journey, it's a subtle rediscovery of the eternal cosmic cycles inside every human, nature and above all that. There's no pain without beauty at all.

Cycles. As Above. So Below. Everything is reflected in anything.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 9,5/10