Review Summary: Very good acoustic folk/doom album with alot of originality and creative flowing from track to track. Very consitent songs without any really bad ones to speak of. Good instrumentation aswell as very unqiue and well preformed vocals that match the music p
Empyrium were a German folk/ doom metal formed back in 1994. This album was their first full length album which was released in Novembre 1995. The band was formed by two friends, Markus Stock and Andreas Bach. Together as Empyrium the two released two albums A Wintersunset and Songs of Moors and Misty Fields. After the release of Songs of Moors and Misty Fields Andreas Bach left the band and his position was filled by Thomas Helm. This new duo, still using the name Empyrium, released two other records Where at Night the Wood Grouse Plays and Weiland. The bands music underwent some changes between the first two and the later two albums. The first two albums can be described as being doom metal with symphonic and folk influences featuring harsh aswell as operatic vocals, slow and depp guitars and atmospheric keys. The later two releases are straight up neofolk, feature all clean operatic vocals and with an emphasis on acoustic guitars, which at some points are simplistic and minimalist and at some points very layered.
This album, A Wintersunset, was my very first experience with Empyrium. I had heard nothing from the band prior to listening to the album, and only got it because it was recommended to me by someone on the forums. My first impressions were very mixed. I coulnd't decide whether I liked it or whether it just bored me. It actually took me a pretty long time to start to fully appreciate the album and the band. The music was, at the time, something I was really accustomed to or prepared for. It had a slow haunting acoustic feeling similar to slow melo parts of songs by bands like Agalloch and Opeth, which had me expecting that any minute the deep down tuned guitars would come in with a much more metal riff. Its hard to explain whether this actually happened or not, because comparing Empyrium's music with that of a band like Opeth was kind of silly due to the fact that they are two very different bands with two very different musical styles.
Although I shouldn't say that the music wasn't ever changing throughout the songs, which was expected because the are all pretty long, they just change slowly and less suprisingly than a band like Opeth does. This however does not in anyway mean that the music is predictable or repetative, which it can be if a band falls to deeply into the pattern or harsh, clean, harsh, clean etc etc.
Even though the music wasn't predictable you always get a feeling of where the song is going, which is more because of the overall atmosphere of the album., which is provided almost entirely by the keyboard. The musicianship on the album is another thing that I found stood out once I started getting more into this album. The use of appregiated guitar during the acoustic bits obviously draws from the classical style whereas the keyboards have more of a folk/black metal feeling two. The percussion is alit bit harder to descirbe because it is pretty varied, there are some tracks where the drums will just be laying down a simple rhythm and there are other times when the drums are very symphonic, similar to the percussion style of bands like Summoning.
The vocals are rather impressive on this album, being a combination of clean vocals very similar to those of Garm on Ulver's Kveldssanger, although not a drop dead impressination, and harsh vocals similar to what you find in most doom metal. The harsh vocals on this album, provided by Markus Stock, are one of the many things that seem really orginal and well done.
All in all this is a very well written and played album without any really bad songs or major downfalls which are easily spotted.