Empyrium
The Turn of the Tides


2.6
average

Review

by Kyle Ward STAFF
July 26th, 2014 | 69 replies


Release Date: 07/18/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Drowning itself in the rising tide

As much as there is to say about Empyrium and what they have done in the past, there is more to say about what they could have done with The Turn of the Tides. The band has crossed genres multiple times in their venerable, if under-appreciated, career in the world of neofolk and black metal, and are perhaps most renowned for their seamless fusion of the two genres in a way that really hasn’t been replicated since, even now that the band has awoken from their 12 year slumber. In a way it is unsurprising that the band has seemed to largely move on from the dark, sweeping folk black metal of their early days, because they really haven’t played that style in almost 20 years, yet it is nice to see that they haven’t completely forsaken their roots. The style of Songs of Moors and Misty Fields is only present in spirit rather than in body, and while this muted heaviness does lend itself well to the brief swells of scathing growls in “Dead Winter Ways” or the surging tremolo riffing of “In the Gutter of this Spring”, it does not prove to be a driving force of a record that instead looks for other ways to continue the creative evolution of Empyrium in this most recent iteration.

That evolution comes largely by way of a massive Dead Can Dance influence that is felt throughout the unique blend of building, driving folk that Empyrium use as a centerpiece on The Turn of the Tides. It is a sound that is constantly shifting and never quite settling down; building towards peaks that never materialize. That’s the main fault of the record: the fact that it rarely capitalizes on the opportunities for further exploration or evolution of a given song’s potent mood. “The Days Before the Fall” sets itself up for a masterfully executed transition to a radiant, earthy acoustic riff that is soon ripped away in favor of a jarring electric guitar that completely eradicates any semblance of the calm, depressive atmosphere that the track had worked so hard to craft. While that is not necessarily the norm on The Turn of the Tides, it does occur with enough frequency to keep you from becoming truly engrossed with the album’s more impressive pieces. “With the Current Into Grey” juxtaposes a hint of old Empyrium with the new, showcasing a blend of distorted guitar riffing and Thomas Helm’s deep, operatic vocals, while also dancing between different moods and tempos in a way that gives the track unparalleled variety on an album that really doesn’t present much in the way of exciting moments. There just isn’t the closeness that was present on their past records – it is so much harder to connect with The Turn of the Tides on an emotional level simply because it feels so detached through much of its run time. This is mainly due to the fact that the album really has no central focus, but it also has to do with the inability of the songwriting to provide a truly palpable atmosphere that the listener can latch on to.

The album is at its best, then, when Empyrium take a given atmosphere and develop it in a more thorough, personal way, rather than tossing around ideas and abandoning them seemingly at random. There needs to be room for expansion, and the band needs to be able to recognize what has to be expanded upon. As it is, the songwriting is often oscillating between focused and shaky, sometimes on the same track. “In the Gutter of this Spring” seems far more unsure of itself than the concise, razor-sharp evolution of “Dead Winter Ways”, and the closer “The Turn of the Tides” shows a serene restraint that the bombastic crescendos of the opener “Saviour” simply cannot fathom. Even the interlude “We Are Alone” knows its limits, confining itself to a wonderful piano piece that instantly ushers in moments of Weiland through the use of a simple but evocative formula. There is no real secret to reveal here, it is just that Empyrium need to shake off the rust and focus on developing those ideas that do work, rather than simply injecting these little gems between the mounds of ideas that didn’t fare so well. When this does happen, The Turn of the Tides is nothing short of a radiant, yet depressive journey through a side of folk we don’t often see, and when it doesn’t happen the band completely lose their way. The Turn of the Tides sways perilously between the two.




Recent reviews by this author
Horrendous EcdysisIn Flames Siren Charms
Panopticon Roads to the NorthWolves in the Throne Room Celestite
Agalloch The Serpent and the SphereInsomnium Shadows of the Dying Sun
user ratings (44)
Chart.
3.1
good
other reviews of this album
bahlof (4)
After twelve years Empyrium confidently revisit nature and human emotion through music, in familiar ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Crysis
Staff Reviewer
July 26th 2014


16433 Comments

Album Rating: 2.6

There really isn't much to say about this. They have lots of ideas yet only a few of them are actually good, they seem unable to decipher what the good ones actually are, and when they actually do manage to do that they almost never develop them. Listen for "Dead Winter Ways" and "With the Current into Grey", but not much else.

Digging: Swallowed - Lunarterial

bahlof
July 26th 2014


45 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm curious if they're going to do any more after this. It did feel like much less of a passion project probably since he did a The Vision Bleak album in the middle of working on this.

Nice Review.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
July 26th 2014


16433 Comments

Album Rating: 2.6

It feels like they just didn't put as much heart into this record. I'd love another album in the vein of Weiland.

titanslayer
July 26th 2014


1891 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Yeah a lot of the songs on here are rather aimless

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
July 26th 2014


19911 Comments


Nice review. Still curious to hear this looks like something I might dig

Digging: Dornenreich - Freiheit

Asmodeuss1990
July 26th 2014


193 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

DAMN this got shit on! I'm still excited to check it out

Digging: Revocation - Deathless

ExplosiveOranges
July 26th 2014


3130 Comments


Nice review. I'll probably pass on this one.

Digging: Winterfylleth - The Divination Of Antiquity

Asmodeuss1990
July 26th 2014


193 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Not going to lie. This is kind of boring. Lol... is just too... tame.

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
July 27th 2014


6254 Comments


Great review Kyle. Had high hopes for this, shame to see that low rating.

Digging: Porcupine Tree - In Absentia

Keyblade
July 27th 2014


14986 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

The atmosphere on this rules even if some of the ideas aren't fully realized. I can see why many people are underwhelmed by this tho

Digging: Submotion Orchestra - Alium

Wizard
July 27th 2014


19491 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

Where should I start with this band?

Digging: Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire

Keyblade
July 27th 2014


14986 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I'd go through chronologically, but I'd say their nest metal album is Songs of Moors and Misty Fields. But their crowning achievement is Weiland which is pure neofolk.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
July 27th 2014


16433 Comments

Album Rating: 2.6

Agreed with Keyblade, just go through in order. Their sound has evolved in a pretty logical way, so if you start at the beginning you'll be able to follow that evolution best.

But yeah Weiland is their best.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
July 27th 2014


7095 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

Hell of an accurate review.

bahlof
July 27th 2014


45 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think I'd start with Songs of Moors and Misty Fields first to see if you like their style cause it's the better of the metal albums. Every song is excellent on that album in my opinion and might instill the desire to listen to more of their stuff

CaptainDooRight
July 27th 2014


29877 Comments


really really need to hear this

Digging: Impetuous Ritual - Unholy Congregation of Hypocritical Ambivalence

Tyrael
July 27th 2014


20893 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Yes you do

Odal
July 27th 2014


350 Comments


"As much as there is to say about Empyrium and what they have done in the past, there is more to say about what they could have done with The Turn of the Tides."

"There really isn't much to say about this."

CK
July 27th 2014


4928 Comments


Well this is disappointing to hear

Digging: Death - Human

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
July 27th 2014


16433 Comments

Album Rating: 2.6

There's a lot to say about what they could have done, not a lot to say about what they have done with this.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy