With their sixth full-length, “Über den Sternen”, EMPYRIUM still draw from the magic and spirits of wild places, nature’s beauty, and human relics of ages long past. “Über den Sternen” echoes this reconciliation of the old with the new on a musical level as well. The duo is putting more emphasis on the electric guitars and harsh vocals again, which marked their first two albums and stood strong upon the band’s melodic black metal foundations. Yet EMPYRIUM also revisit the dark folk style, which the Germans had progressively embraced on their third and fourth albums.
What used to appear to be a crossroad in their musical development has now merged into one breath-taking sound. The combined force of mastermind, multi-instrumentalist, clean and extreme vocalist as well as producer Markus “Schwadorf” Stock and classical singer Thomas Helm, who lends his amazing voice also to the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, is painting a radiant sonic picture. It comes with the melancholic grounding of the sophomore album “Songs of Moors & Misty Fields” (1997), adds brushstrokes of the fairy-tale tempera colours of “Where at Night the Wood Grouse Plays” (1999), and also makes use of a few hues from the palette that Dead Can Dance have infused with world music, which EMPYRIUM have already employed on “The Turn of the Tides” (2014). The crowning varnish is diligently crafted from rougher elements that reach all the way back to the Germans’ legendary debut ” A Wintersunset…” (1996). EMPYRIUM have reconciled their early vintage sound with the acoustic expression of later recordings.”
Staying true to the Romantic tradition, EMPYRIUM continue to take inspiration for their lyrical flights of fantasy from the local myths, ancient places, and natural wonders of the Rhön Mountains and their Lower Franconian homeland in the West of Germany. A circle is closing, and with EMPYRIUM‘s label Prophecy Productions, which were originally founded with the mission to release the band’s debut album, celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2021, it happens in more than one way.
Don’t forget to check out the taster “Über den Sternen”:
In april 2020, a new mysterious atmospheric black metal band from Sweden, namely Faidra, came to the light with the release of their debut album “Six Voices Inside”. The album has received praise and warm welcome within the scene, hence our curious excitement that lead to this interview with the anonymous person behind this one man act…
1. The background
Hello, please begin by telling us a about Faidra and your secret self.
Faidra is a Swedish Atmospheric Black Metal solo project that formed during late summer of 2019. Mostly just a project to entertain myself. There never were any intentions of letting anybody else listen to the music. After sending a rough mix of a couple of songs to friends for feedback and ideas, I later figured I would try to put a few songs on Spotify, since they really liked the result. An easy way to put stuff on Spotify is through a record label, so i sent some tracks to 3-4 labels and got interest from two of them, Northern Silence being one.
Sounds like a surprisingly low ambition approach, especially considering the end result. Is there anything more you can tell us about yourself? I guess you have a background in the music scene?
Yes, I have played in metal bands earlier, but these never really got anywhere. I actually had much more success playing folk music – I was in a band for ten years playing Irish/Celtic folk and we did that for a living for a couple of years…
Ok, cool. So, what first got you into this genre, and what motivates and inspires you to create the music you do?
Depending on what you mean there are a couple of things. Just listening to the genre and appreciating it, I have done for years. I occasionally listened to a few black metal bands during the 90’s but around the 2000’s Cradle of Filth released an album called “Midian” which still remains a favourite of mine. No matter what one might think of Cradle of Filth, i know they are pariah, but they really are unmatched when it comes to their lyrical abilities. Their early work at least, is largely pretty good and that album led me to dive deeper into the atmospheric part of the genre. Eventually this would lead me to another favourite band of mine, though not atmospheric, namely Marduk. So i guess ”Midian” is pretty much responsible for getting me to explore extreme music much more than i had done earlier.
What got me into the genre in regards to writing i guess i got inspiration from several other acts. Mgla, Burzum and Drudkh to name a few. But mainly i listened a lot to an album called ”Forest Sky” by Hermóðr and that album got me the idea and the inspiration to try to record my own black metal.
2. The present
You mention some excellent sources of inspiration there, what do you think about black metal anno 2020 – anything worth praising?
I tend to listen to the old and ”regular” stuff, but also other genres a lot. As for newer acts i have to mention Batushka (the real one) and Mgla for doing something very good and interesting. Also, Curse Upon A Prayer’s latest release is something i enjoy.
Some solid 2020 highlights there, although the last band Curse Upon A Prayer is something I need to listen in to…
Your debut album, “Six Voices Inside”, is really getting status in the underground I believe. Please tell us about it.
The album was not intended at all as stated earlier. The idea was to just make a few tracks to entertain myself. I was mostly doing folk music and Northern/Viking tunes with lots of ambience and atmosphere at the time. I figured i would see how a distorted guitar would sound in the midst of horns, bones, lyres and ancient string instruments. It sounded really good. With some inspiration from Hermodr’s Forest Sky album in the back of my mind, this turned into dropping the viking-stuff and going for atmospheric black metal instead.
Alright, so how has the reception for the album been so far?
The reception has been amazing. I am not aware of any negative reviews what so ever, and i have recieved nothing but praise from fans and the sales have impressed my label too.
3. The future
I perfectly understand, so what will be next for you, any new material being written?
I’m recording ideas mostly, that hopefully will turn into songs later on. Once I have a couple of riffs and ideas, putting it together usually goes pretty fast. The plan is to get enough material for the second album as well as a couple of songs to release online only as i did with ”Ixion”.
Interesting, can we assume there is a good chance for a new Faidra release during 2021?
I really hope so, it all depends on how much free time i’ll have to work on it. I have a full time job and recently got an addition to the family aswell. So free time is pretty rare nowadays.
Sounds great, both with family life and new material. Thanks a lot for the interview, good luck with the new material and future endeavours… /J.
We welcome the French underground label Les Acteurs De l’Ombre (LADLO) to our rooster. They release some of the finest black metal. We took the chance to catch up with label founder Gérald.
Read that LADLOstarted as a magazine and concert organizer. Could you elaborate on that and the philosophy and purpose?
“It all started back in 2001, when I decided to create the association LADLO, with two of my friends. At the beginning, it was a webzine for which 50 writers have worked. I had to leave the presidency of the association in 2008 due to a professional transfer, and that is when I requested the creation of the label for the association.
I had this idea in my mind since a few years, but I was lost in the downward spiral of the webzine and the organization of gigs, so I had no time to think about this…
It has been very exciting indeed. Because I always worked for the association as a volunteer, I had no risk of losing money, which allowed me to fully enjoy this new project. Pensées Nocturnes was the solo project of one member of our association that organized gigs : this way, we stayed ‘in family’ so to say – no pressure, only happiness and a burning desire to discover a new universe and meet new persons…
Before, I used to organize gigs all around Paris, among which three annual festivals: Black Metal, Pagan, and Doom Metal for 10 years. The team quickly got bigger; we organized more than 100 shows and more than 500 bands played for us.
Today the label has more than 20 volunteers, and we have no other desire than to have fun and do things the best we can. Making people discover our favorite bands is a main motivation for us.”
French black metal seems relatively big and we also get many orders from France. What do you think about the development of black metal in France?
“I think French scene always generated some interest abroad. It never was a reference, but since black metal was born, it has always offered qualitative bands starting with Mütiilation in 91, Nehëmah in 92 and others. Our bands never really exported themselves, but we got a critical success with a few avant-garde bands such as Blut Aus Nord, and Deathspell Omega, that stood out. While the traditional black metal scene has known its share of great bands, others wanted to try new things, with new inspirations, freeing themselves from their influences and rebelling against conventions. I’d say it’s kind of our trademark: we do what we like, here in France. I think our bands have improved, even if I feel like we were always slow on the uptake. Today, some think we have qualities and follow our flourishing scene very closely. But let’s not be mistaken, French scene remains anecdotal in black metal universe. World is full of so many great bands…”
Thanks a lot Gérald for your words and good luck with everything going forward!
Make sure to visit the homepage of LADLO, and below you’ll find the recently added titles from this fine label…