Review Summary: The end of one space odyssey, and a platform for another
Mechina invite all of you on a journey. To where you ask? To space of course.
The year is 2632 and you wake up aboard a spaceship. Your mission – to find a new home. The captains of this mighty ship called Mechina managed to convince you of a better world, one without religion nor malevolence, centered on equality, lying in the distance, so you decided to embark on this space odyssey. Your last memories of earth are bleak – mankind torn asunder by their hate, and the world as you knew it collapsing under the weight of both an inner conflict and a higher power. For you, earth is no more, god is no more, and you’re an outlaw in space. You’re surely confused as you’ve been asleep for a long time, possibly jaded as well due to your negative memories, but then you look out the window and see it. Empyrean – a planet visibly similar to earth is in your sight, and you remember the purpose of all this instantly. The captains of Mechina skillfully pilot the ship towards Empyrean. Will this be the planet where a perfect society based on equality is founded by you and the select few who decided to partake in this odyssey? No one knows yet, as it’s up to you, but the odds are in your favor.
It’s a shame that people don’t make many (great) space movies anymore, because Empyrean
is just waiting to be an unorthodox score for a space opus. Not only is it a grandiose final chapter in a conceptually intriguing trilogy, but it’s a musically proficient, engaging album in general. Mechina have taken the blueprint of industrialized extreme metal in the vein of Fear Factory, added an orchestra to it, cranked the speed up to eleven, and are now blasting away. In the form of Mechina, the metal world should once again have something to buzz about, as the band’s mix of industrial, metal and orchestration, that is used as a tool to carry forth images of space and the earth crumbling, is refreshing to say the least. The orchestration is perfectly incorporated and in absolute balance with the metal on offer, carrying with it an epic, movie soundtrack-like atmosphere, while the metal portion on its part mainly consists of machinegun riffs and relentlessly pounding drums that would make every speed metal band ever proud. The vocal performance on offer is sublime as well, as the death growls are deep and grizzly while the clean vocals soar with flair. Empyrean
sounds like the guys behind it were experiencing a perpetual adrenaline rush and the end result is the musical equivalent of Han Solo piloting his Millennium Falcon at hyperspace speeds.
Dissecting this album too thoroughly in a review would be a crime against it, though, since it’s a piece of music meant to be explored individually. It conjures up rich imagery of space and while Empyrean
does boost a strong concept, the visualizations that one can experience with this record vary greatly. Space is the common theme, but how one depicts the action depends entirely on his own imagination, which is also the strongest facet of the album: it gives a certain framework with its music to work with, but eventually it is up to the listener to carve out the details and nature of this imaginary space world that the record encourages to sire. Empyrean
gives the listener everything and nothing at all at the same time and it’s the audience’s job to complete the experience. It’s an album that urges the mind to wander free, out of earth and beyond. Much like the reception theory in literature alleges, Empyrean
boasts an idea, but the listener gives it a purpose.
If you ever thought to yourself that Fear Factory could have a more refined and defined purpose (and maybe an orchestra), then Empyrean
is exactly for you. It contains the final chapter of a space trilogy that is delivered to the listener with true soul and conviction. Mechina have said that their message (one that is against religion) is more important than music, which is merely a tool for expression, but it doesn’t hurt that their music is excellent as well. For those who thought that Conqueror
was too short, Mechina have added nearly 15 minutes of music compared to its predecessor, with Empyrean
clocking in around the 50 minute mark. This time, the length is perfect and it allows Empyrean
to conclude their story in spectacular fashion. What Mechina have created with their trilogy (Empyrean
being its crown jewel) is something unique in the metal world and there isn’t a band out there that sounds just like them. There are some minor flaws at work here (guitars could’ve been beefier; production could’ve been a bit more balanced) but they absolutely pale in comparison to the album’s highlights. Mechina’s ability to vividly carry forth a fictional anti-religion concept while making you feel like you’re in space, exploring it while battling for your life and dreams, is admirable. Empyrean
ignites one’s senses and instantly forces them to wander off to space-realms unknown to us, but alive in our minds. In short: Mechina’s third full-length album is the first metal album of 2013 you don’t want to miss.
Our voices, carried off in the wind / into a distant sky / open your eyes / for we have redefined heaven