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This really isn't all that it is hyped up to be, and this is coming from somebody who loves keys. Olli Savolainen can write a great, catchy melody on the keyboard, but he tends to layer too much and bite off more than he can chew sonically. I almost felt like blaming the production on this flaw entirely (which is a mess, honestly), but familiar patterns throughout the tracks proved otherwise.
The atmosphere is nice, I'll give it that. The band definitely has the futuristic, sinthetic (heh) soundscape down. Of course this is almost entirely thanks to the keyboard textures, which are obviously a KORG Le or a TR. It just doesn't hold your attention like you thought it would for the whole duration. I'll make my point by picking out the most popular cut here: "Pain & Pleasure". Atmospheric, catchy keyboard lines open things up, and once the rest of the band comes in there are some impressive string sections throbbing in the foreground. Forty seconds in, everything drops off and the band settles in upper-midpaced land for the rest of the track save for a short atmospheric break near the end that the band rides out on, never bothering to slow down to gather themselves for another adrenaline shot like the opening. This pattern repeats for many tracks, save for maybe the unusually titled "Ja Pimeys Laskeutui", which keeps its head above water due to the keys remaining at the forefront for the duration.
There is a reason for the overload of keys, the vocals and guitars really don't have a whole lot to offer here. Juha Harju has a functional-enough set of pipes on him, but his blackened screech is totally neutered, laying on top of the rest of the mix like a wet rag. Speaking of the mix, this may be one of the bigger wastes of potential I've experienced in a while, as I know I am missing many of Savolainen's melodies during some of the more intense passages. The keyboards sound okay on their own, but once the rest of the band kicks in, the keys become either way too quiet, or annoyingly shrieking and bassy. The guitars almost totally drop out during most sections, while some decent thrashing and grooving appears during very, very specific points. As expected, the bass has zero presence, zip. Why even include a bassist? He is just filling space; man some of these bands need to take a page out of Overkill's handbook. The drumming is adequate for this type of music, but features absolutely nothing novel, inventive, or original. Just quick 32nd note double bass and sporadic fills.
A few tracks warrant their existence, check out "Conjuration", "Ja Pimeys Laskeutui", and "Designed For Blood"; the latter of which actually has a shockingly impressive chorus featuring clean (for Shade Empire) vocals. Otherwise, check out the group's later material. Much more balanced. Sinthetic is very much an acquired taste.
For their 1st release Shade Empire has done a unique job of showing how they can mix industrial with black metal. The keyboardist does a phenomenal job with the melody of the band. It is symphonic throughout the album with the most remarkable memorable melodies. I believe this is the first Melodic Industrial Dark/Black metal band and maybe the only, but man was it a good idea.
There is nothing like it, layers of electronic symphonic riffs with black metal guitar riffs and harsh vocals. Thats probably as powerful and intense that a band can bring. Every song is memorable and unique none even sounding the same as the other. Keyboardist thought out every riff very well and is very creative doing so. I can imagine any person who listen to this band will not be disappointed, metalhead or not, you will be memorized by creative this band has to offer. If you are into anything symphonic, and like treble riffs this band will blow you away.
This is the first word that came to mind after I finished listening to this album. The album is great from start to finish, with no weak tracks, and a few that stand out a bit more then the others, such as “Human Sculpture”. The music itself isn’t as complex as it first sounds, as the keyboards add another dimension that most bands don’t have. In fact, if not for the keyboards, the album wouldn’t be so amazing. The riffs aren’t complex, and I don’t recall any guitar solos. The vocals are awesome, ranging from death growls to black metal shrieks, and the clean parts are worth mention to. The writing is average, but it fits together on the album. The production is great throughout, and I have no complaints.
Great debut album. If you don’t like keyboards, keep away, since that is the most prominent thing in the music. The standout tracks are “Human Sculpture” and “Pain & Pleasure”. A great addition for any collection, and definitely worth at least a listen.
Even though the profile says Melo-Death/Black Metal I would simply call them Symphonic Black. One of the strong points of this album is the perfect use of keys/symphonics on the featured tracks. The music remains aggressive through the guitars and drums yet mellow in a way with the keys. Unlike many bands whos keys dull the music down to an almost annoying level, Shade Empire's only add to the music instead of taking away from it. The riffs, while not the most complex, are great on this album. Why? Simply because as with everything else about this album, they are used correctly with the other instruments to give the album that "full,complete" sound many albums lack. The vocals, clean and harsh are executed quite well, yet another piece that adds to the quality of the album. The harsh vocals, a mix of gutteral death growls and black metal shrieks sound great and fit into the mix perfectly. As for lyrical content, whomever does all the writing is quite good at writing a good song, not the best, but yet again, a perfect fit for the album. Production is good but rather fuzzy at times.
Basically its one hell of a good release for a debut album. (i believe its their debut) If you dont like keyboard laden stuff, stay away. If you love good melodic metal, this one would probably be for you.
Favorite tracks: All, its one of the few albums that have no weak tracks, they all kick ass on the same level.
I hope to hear more from these guys in the future.