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Promises not claimed. Okay but uninspired. - 63%

Lane, February 9th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Terrasound Records

Polish semi-melodic death/thrash band Empatic's sophomore album 'Ruined Landscape' throws some promises with its beautifully terminal cover artwork and exceedingly somber piano intro the album opens with. The debut album 'Gods of Thousand Souls' (2010) gave quite a lot of promises for this one. Actually, it has gotten better during these two months since I reviewed it and scored it 6 and a half out of 10.

One thing I blamed the debut album for was the band's faceless approach. That's not news in nowadays' metal music map, because of the amount of active bands. This facet of Empatic really haven't changed, and I must add, that they aren't the most faceless band around. Plus, I would never call these fellows as copycats. They just happen to be influenced by melodic death metal and thrash metal, I presume. This album isn't totally similar to the debut, because the band have given more space for... fuck it, man, you already can guess?!?!! More space for metalcore and groove metal, and without any surprise, may I add! Not the path I wanted them to take, for sure.

The basis of Empatic's music consist of death metal, from Vader to In Flames, and modern thrashing in vein of The Haunted. It is heavy and it's groovy too, but it's far from being ultra-violent. Just like the legendary bands, Empatic have both brightening and boring parts in their music, but much less of so called killer bits. However, I cannot say that I get bored while listening to this album. It simply contains some less catchy songs and song parts. This starts straight from the start: As mentioned earlier, the intro is a beauty leading to some bold smacking, yet the composition itself is somewhat erratic. It shows how forceful the band can be, and how brooding and stygian they can get. Then comes this metalcore/deathcore monstrosity called 'Crimen Pessimum'. And it's a monstrosity in a negative way; "jump-da-fuck-up" element introduced, fuck and then some!!!

It slowly gets better with following two songs, and 'Oblivion Path' is one of the highlights here. It starts a bit dully, but when it reaches the chorus and the guitar lead part, wow! Now this is exactly of that quality I can expect from the band. 'Ambush' is total The Haunted worship, and again with catchy chorus. It's now safe to say, that lead guitar work on this album is vivid, meaning it catches ear and sticks to brain. Yeah, it can be rather technical too. Even though 'Valley of Shadows' has an animate "suffering in hell" intro, the song is quite blunt. See, there is a lot of chugging riffing, that is simply immemorial. So, the guitar work too has two sides to it.

Hypocrisy and Fleshcrawl-esque 'Obsession' is a great mid-paced piece with some pummelling double kick drumming and succesful share between melody and aggression. In a word: Irresistible! Straight after this beauty comes this metalcore rhythm thingy 'Fight'. Okay, it has some great lead guitar stuff that saves it from being a total waste. In this context, metalcore influences are sometimes tolerable. I mean if you can tolerate them altogether, that is. 'Countenance of Fear' starts with tight thrashing, but the band decided to drop tempo and get all groovy at times. I think they follow this "first thrashing, then groovier" formula too tightly on many a song. Arch Enemy-ish 'Struggle (Empatic II)' is a good instrumental, but could have contained vocals with ease.

The production of the album is very much suited to this kind of music. Empatic's delivery is sturdy. The bass guitar really caterwauls, the guitars shred and the drums are pounding. It's not the cleanest sound here, but it is clean enough for individual instrument detection. On metalcore parts, it does get more mechanical, but otherwise it is well organic. The throaty growl from the vocalist is burly. There's also more hardcore vocalization styles heard, depending on a style the band's playing. More high-pitched growls on suitable death metal instants: Check.

Again, Empatic have put out an album, that is so bloody promising! It has same problems as the debut did: on/off songwriting (hardly anything fluent) and fairly faceless output. On the brighter note, it still does not require pushing "next" button, at least not much ('Crimen Pessimum' is a very, very strong candidate for such a track, surely). The good things are how the band can make it roll and how they hit it in during the best moments, plus the fabulous lead guitar work. They will put out that killer album, I'm sure of that! And I hope it's their third one.

(Originally written for in October 2014)

Empatic - Ruined Landscape - 80%

Tomecki666, January 6th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Terrasound Records

Few years ago I reviewed a debut album by Polish band Empatic called Gods Of Thousand Souls. I liked their debut. There were a few things to work on but generally the album was pretty good and back then I decided to check up on them when the new album arrived. Ruined Landscape is the name of their second offering and even though it was released in 2014 and I’m a little late to jump on the wagon, I believe it is never too late to write about albums that are worth talking about. Did they top their debut, is that one better than previous offering, how does it stack up against Gods Of Thousand Souls? Let’s begin.

First thing that came to mind while listening to Emaptic (and I think same thing happened when I was listening to the previous album) is how effortlessly those guys churn out all those kick ass riffs and how much melody and how many themes they pack in their songs and whole album altogether. Their kind of metal is still in your face; take no prisoners, heavy as all heck death but there is much more to it. Songs are well constructed and dense but always leave room for this something extra that will stay with you and make the song recognizable. Vocals are up front with this beast and operate on guttural lows for the most part, but there’s also this raspy or snarly attack that happens now and then and it kills!! Me likes it a lot. Dual guitar assault works hard on this release putting out an amazing plethora of riffage and melody. There are some nicely done solos on this album also and for an old-schooler such as myself, this is something that I’ll never get enough of on metal albums. Very nice indeed. Bass and drum section does an excellent job keeping a powerful rumble ever-present throughout the album and listening to those two is almost like a full time job.

As you can see in this aspect we have all the right stuff in the right place but there are also portions that are not so great and even though there are only a few, they do somewhat disappoint and sort of mess up the listening experience. Empatic are great masters of chuggery and groove but it’s also their weakest element. Not that something is wrong with the chug itself, o no!! Chugs are more than alright but the amount of it and repetition time is way off. The band needs to realize that having a great breakdown, chugging section or adding a great groove needs to be timed right to make an impact. Rolling the same riffs on and on does not make them better and, quite frankly, can destroy whole song no matter how great it is.

So, what is the final word? I think Empatic is growing and growing fast. I see much improvement in all aspects and I see them moving forward and learning from their mistakes. Ruined Landscape is a good album when comparing to many out there, but I do not want to compare it to the lesser ones - I want to compare it to the greats of the genre and I believe that with their next one I will be able to do just that.

(Originally written for

Music for punching walls, floors, and other people - 60%

autothrall, July 3rd, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Terrasound Records

I reviewed the first Empatic record, Gods of Thousand Souls, back in 2010, and that was a decent effort in terms of accessible death metal that doesn't quite reach the brutality level of their Polish countrymen like Vader or Behemoth, but nor does it subscribe to anything particular trendy or disingenuous either. Enjoyable, but nothing that's going to send you packing for a t-shirt and coffee mug bearing the band's brand. Ruined Landscape is a more pensive and better structured record in much the same vein as that one, on which the brighter moments shine oh so much more brightly, but the laborious, chugging tendencies don't always reveal the most creative or interesting fact there are a couple guitar parts on here that just should have been sent to the scrapper because they come across like really lame groove metal or metalcore...

These are in evidence very early on, even in the first tune "Trauma" (funny enough, the name of another Polish band that this one occasionally bears semblance to) which sets up a really nice piano intro and features some spacious, sad melodies but resorts to some pretty basic 'core-like chugs in the bridge which are rounded out by Slayer-like note phrases which intend to make them sound more evil. This was a pretty common tactic employed by a lot of metalcore bands, for better or worse, and it just seems like the rest of Empatic's music here seems way beyond that. "Crimem Pessimum" has a mechanical, thrash-like groove in the intro which is unfortunately laid into completely with some samples that almost sound like Korn, and then a full on battery where the bass and drums just add meat to the same riff. I can pick out another dozen examples through the album, but you will sort of catch my drift from these two. Now, don't get me wrong: Ruined Landscape certainly has a lot more to it than the impression these passages leave me. Even in a few of these parts they've got a better sense of note selection than your guys playing the style, but I just felt a little inconsistency where they'd be playing this superior melodic death metal stuff (circa Hypocrisy) and then sputter into something less inspired and/or interesting.

Granted, not all of that is great, either, as in "Ambush" where it's basically paint by numbers Swedish styled melodeath like you'd hear American metalcore bands (Shadows Fall, All That Remains) perform in the late 90s. On the other hand, they'll also transform this same sense of momentum into something more genuinely like a muscular modern thrash ("Valley of Shadows") where the riffs are way more effective with the grumbling guttural barks of the front man. All told, the production here is strong: punchy rhythm guitars, overt melodies that you don't need to strain your ears to hear, and snappy, consistent drumming and bass-lines that definitely feel like they'd help get the crowds into motion, but there's no nuance, no subtlety, and only a small selection of guitar progressions which come across as truly memorable. I guess if you can imagine a somewhat slower alternative to the Marco Aro-fronted albums by The Haunted, or another Swedish band called The Defaced, and you've got no aversion to tough guy 90s thrash and groove metal, Ruined Landscape is a solid and stubborn slab of credibility, but I would have preferred Empatic moving in a more distinctly death metal direction with more evil riffs and tremolo picking, which this does not.