A concept album that reshapes the work of Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and “Paradise Regained” after years of rumination from frontwoman Tricia Myers forms the backbone of the debut album of Portland, Oregon trio Empyrean Fire as she is joined by guitarist, bassist and programmer Jason Yorke and synth master Brian Rush. Yorke also mixed and mastered the release as in each chapter a battle in the dragon’s ascent to gain command over Hell on Earth. Will you bow down in battle, sunken before the spear?
Despite the albums very much Black Metal artwork from Gustav Dore the band are a hybrid of pure evil forged in the fires of Hell itself with moments of Symphonic Black Metal and Blackened Thrash in a cauldron of dark and oppressive atmospherics that has moments of light through the dark clouds with some clean vocal harmonies. “Proclamation” is simply the start of the reign of fire, setting the scene of with the sounds of ancient warfare before the gripping “Gathering Storm” brings forth the sense of the epic with cinematic orchestration and throat shredding roars from Myers who plays the role of Gollum screaming like a banshee from the distant caves. Her uncleans are frequently underpinned by deeper ones from Yorke and Rush giving an extra low that makes for a black abyss beneath your feet while the Solemnity esq orchestrations add that finesse that so often escapes Black Metal. The blast beats of “Descent” sever flesh from bone like they’re being sandblasted and while the drumming is of superior quality, the programming means that they are able to reach inhuman levels of perfection with a stamina that no drummer would achieve. The immense percussive battery is the underpinning of a melancholic melody the two opposing extremes sitting comfortably in the same space, both beautiful and barbed at the same time with an ethereal quality from the synths providing a distant light to the shroud of darkness.
On the path to eternal punishment and damnation into which a sinful and unrepentant person passes after death, “Perdition” is a slower burning affair with a soaring solo as Myres has more of a storytelling vocal style before the whammy bar into Blackened Thrash riffs that closes this chapter in fine style. 40 seconds of somber and melodic notes set a shoegazing false sense of security at the start of “Corruption” with Hans Zimmer esq touches that send chills down your spine before the Earth shattering roar from Myres is followed by a driven percussive onslaught as the demon approaches carried by sand storm of dark riffage. The mid song return to the opening notes is a temporary reprieve before the taker of souls returns once more, a solo followed by the intertwining of the clean and unclean vocals for the first time on the album make this a real stand out. “The Siege” takes everything that was previously on offer while adding a haunting melody and a beautiful clean vocal passage in the final third that means that Empyrean Fire can pride themselves on maintaining a high quality of material throughout the album before the brutality of closer “Final Battle” brings the thunder. Tearing us limb from limb with Blackened Thrash riffs in the mid section and a whirlwind of percussion as the symphonies torment, the best has been saved until last [7.5/10]
2. Gathering Storm
6. The Siege
7. Final Battle
“Deliverance” by Empyrean Fire is out 26th December 2020 with pre-orders available over at bandcamp