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This blows Sinthetic out of the water by virtue of its more restrained, measured approach alone. The production imbalances of the last album are also rectified, finally lending the mechanized, industrial sheen to Intoxicate O.S. that was sorely missed on the unbalanced earlier material. This doesn't mean the album is anything more than good, though. This is mainly due to the fact that Shade Empire have managed to box themselves into an excessively tight space from a songwriting standpoint. To that effect, the imprisoned silhouette featured on the cover art is eerily telling of the material within.
Regardless, much of Intoxicate O.S. is a lot easier to keep around due to its more galvanized, crunchy tone and refined arrangements. The whole ordeal comes off as much less pretentious and more digestible on the whole. "Chemical God" is a good starting point, managing to maintain interest even without a large presence of Savolainen's esoteric synths. Ascending powerchords lead into more grooving passages, and even Harju sounds passable here. "Hatefeast" is more deliberate in its approach, cruising along at a solid mid-paced tempo. The verses of this one are worth a mention, evoking a terse atmosphere that counterpoints the controlled bursts of speed quite well. This aural balance is what was sorely missing in the overly-symphonic Sinthetic. There are some sludgy tremolo sections as well, driving home the fact that the guitars are simply much more focused this time around.
Harju is his usual exaggerated self here, though. His more traditional death metal roars are potent, but he overacts to the extreme regarding intonation and delivery during certain moments. It comes off as a poor man's Shagrath, which in Shade Empire's case is not a wise parallel to summon. The keys are potent, however. "Silver Fix" contains the most synth arrangements and choirs behind the instrumental "Ravine". While this stylistically hearkens back to Sinthetic it still manages to keep its head above water. The main keyboard melody is both epic and foreboding, doing away with the flashy excess Savolainen experimented with on other albums. "Ravine" deserves special mention, though. The piano melody is ethereal and incredibly memorable. The rest of the band surfaces periodically, driving the atmosphere home and making this the best track here. The one weak point from a musicianship standpoint are the drums. Makkonen's departure soon after this album was a wise choice for both him and the band.
As stated above, Intoxicate O.S. isn't groundbreaking, but this was a huge step in the right direction after the bomb of a debut. Shade Empire seemed content within their sub-genre by this point, and simplifying the formula to serve as a proverbial safety net was a wise decision in hindsight.
If the debut album was really good usually the second is a bit disappointing.
And this happens here. Compared to “synthetic” the new release is not so good..
The band has continued with its unique style – a combination of black metal riffs, electronic keyboards and goth atmosphere. However this time they’ve got a rawer edge which in this case is not so good. Also the music lacks the passion and emotions that can be find the predecessor.The songs are similarly structured and as a whole they are bit boring.
There’s nothing to remember them for. It’s like one melody is repeated numerous times. The guitar riffs are not so original and the keyboards are just there – the music is not an extreme symphony anymore…Although there are some highlights (Ravine is simply great).
Do not get me wrong – this is not a bad album. It’s just that Shade Empire could make better.