Review Summary: I would just like to know one thing...where in the hell did Embers come from?
Embers is a relatively new band to the black metal scene, having only been around since the year 2004. To date, they've only released one EP, one split with a band named Book of Belial, and this, their first full-length album, Shadows
. The band comes from the United States, more specifically California and, like I said, they play black metal. However, that's not the only thing that they are. Unlike other black metal bands from the area such as Ash Borer and Fell Voices, they don't fit into the whole "Cascadian" black metal scene. Instead they go for an atmospheric black metal sound heavily influenced by doom metal and crust punk as well as some drone, particularly in the intro and outro.
This album is extremely heavy while still keeping the black metal atmosphere intact. Every fan of the black metal genre knows that the atmosphere you pull off is just as important as the music itself. More than likely fans will want something that gives you a visual in your head and not something that sounds thin or hollow. What this album tries to do is put you in a trance-like state with the tremolo picking. However, there's plenty of variations in the riffs here. Complimenting the tremolo picking is plenty of doom-styled guitar work that will pound your ear drums into oblivion. With the album being a little over an hour, you can expect this variation throughout the entire duration of the album. The drumming is varied as well, with black metal blast beats as well as some stuff just playing in the background when the doom parts take over and dominate. The crust influence mainly comes in some of the vocals, with a lot of hardcore-esque shouting.
As I touched on, the crust punk influence is mainly vocally, but those aren't the only vocal style displayed here. Being primarily a black metal band, the main style of choice is the raspy black metal scream. The vocalist, who is a female by the way, can keep up with any male vocalist in the genre and fits right in. While the vocals aren't anything unique, they're certainly well executed and aren't anything that will make you cringe in disgust, so that's a good sign right off the bat. Along with the black metal screams there are a few growls here and there that wouldn't sound out of place on a death metal album. The different vocal styles really keeps the album sounding fresh since, after all, it's pretty lengthy.
Embers are pretty much a breath of fresh air in the current black metal scene and they're definitely a band to watch out for in the future. While individually the elements don't really do anything special, they're very unique when you mix them all together. This album will always keep you guessing and the mixture of black metal, doom, drone, and crust punk really have you anxious just what they're going to do next and that makes the album seem a lot shorter than it actually is. For being so long, nothing drags or makes you want to skip any tracks. The whole thing is fantastic.