Empyrium is one of those bands which are sort of in a league of their own. Not in a sense that they are far and away better than any other band, but in the sense that their music is something which is almost impossible to describe with perfect accuracy. Their sound transitioned from their early recordings, which were a mash of folk/symphonic/black/doom metal, to their later albums which were more of a folk/darkwave ambient sound. Both styles certainly had their advantages, and Empyrium found a way to play each one with painstaking instrumentation and songwriting ability. On their final album Weiland
, Empyrium manages to create an almost perfect blend of dark folk and ambient, and it turns out to be a perfect reflection of the kind of music this band has the talent to write.
is an album which feeds off songwriting, and that is evident from the very beginning. The very first track “Kein Hirtenfeuer Glimmt Mehr” kicks things off with an extremely folk-oriented flute melody, but it comes across as very melancholic and sad, a tone which carries through every song on Weiland
. These folk melodies combine with impressive acoustic work to create this atmosphere of a very calm sadness, a mood which is difficult to understand in full until it is heard. Not every track is just ambient instrumentation, either; the songs during the first half of the album contain a wide array of vocal styles from two separate vocalists, Markus Stock and Thomas Helm. Helm adds in what may be one of the most recognizable aspects of the album, the deep, almost operatic, baroque vocals which are both unique and impeccably delivered. Couple these with the whispers and occasional scream by Stock and you have an impressive vocal department which delivers a fantastic performance on an album which isn’t even focused on vocals at all.
clocks in at just under an hour, but it seems much longer than that. Each song is very slow, each note seems like an eternity. However, this is all just part of what Empyrium wanted to do with their farewell album. There are songs which range from the impressive, 14 minute “Waldpoesie” which contain virtually everything this band has to offer, to the more specialized two minute affair which is “Am Wasserfall”, which contains nothing more than the sound of water and the faint whispered vocals of Markus Stock. Weiland
is an album which fans of a large variety of genres can appreciate, simply because it is a perfect example of how a large variety of elements, from classical piano to darkwave ambience to folk-style flutes to baroque vocals, can work in a way which inspires conformity in the albums overall sound, but stark individuality in each specific instrument. If you have never heard of Empyrium, I highly suggest starting with Weiland
, not only because it’s accessible and Empyrium’s best work, but also because it is just plain quality.