Welcome to part two of my mini reviews of Empyrium’s later discography. The new year has turned, and winter is upon us which means Empyrium gets a lot of listens from me this time of year. I would say the later half of their discography is some of the most compelling and emotionally resonating (especially for me). The one main difference between earlier records and later records is the length of time between full length albums. “Weiland” came out in 2002 and then “Turn of the Tides” was released 12 years later. Finally, “Über den Sternen” was released seven years later. Each album is unique, but each has that underlining Empyrium sense of dark romanticism and mystical nature worship. I would say that Empyrium have done a lot of experimenting and fine-tuning in their later albums. There is still the ever present dark folk element, but they dabble into more post rock, shoegaze, and gothic aspects of music. There was a lot of patience between each album, but the wait paid off because Empyrium’s later works are astonishing and beautifully introspective across the board.
Weiland (2002) 9/10
When “Weiland” was released, I was so excited to see what new, dark paths Empyrium took and come to find out that the new album was an even longer more substantial medieval dark folk album compared to its predecessor “Where at Night the Wood Grouse Plays”. There were so many amazing and compelling aspects of “Weiland” you had the gamut of acoustic strumming, haunting operatic vocals and even tinges of black metal sprinkled throughout the record. Hearing the album takes you into the darkest and mistiest worlds of forests, glades, rivers, and hidden/ancient structures crumbling with time. It magnifies the imagery tenfold compared to “Where at Night…” later in my life I felt “Weiland” has really helped me calm my stress and helped me daydream again. It is not only a mind-clearing listening experience but a mind-altering one as well. Best Songs: Fortgang, Waldpoesie, and Die Schwäne im Schilf
The Turn of the Tides (2014) 8/10
“The Turn of the Tides” was a surprise release for me when I came across it, I thought Empyrium were on an extended hiatus for a long while. 12 years is a long time to wait for new material and when the album was finally released, I was immediately listening to a more post rock/metal/ambient well produced album compared to the more archaic sounds of Empyrium’s earlier releases. There was a sense of modernism to the album but there was a very primal sense of melancholy and wistfulness to the entirety of “The Turn of the Tides” I would say this album hits hard and deep and lacks any gothic romanticism and mysticism. It sounds rawer, more vulnerable, and even airy at times. There is a lot of great songs on here that allows you to let your tears flow but there are a couple songs that seem to just be there without any significant emotion or deeper feeling compared to other songs on “The Turn of the Tides”. Best Songs: Saviour, Dead Winter Ways, and The Days Before the Fall
Über den Sternen (2021) 9/10
“Über den Sternen” is the latest opus by Empyrium and an absolute stunning album in so many amazing ways. It brings back the mystical and nature worship of earlier releases but magnifies it by a million. There is a strong sense of dreamy, misty, and shadowy forests in each of the songs. There is a feeling of wandering those woods and stumbling upon mystical beings and energies at the most unlikely of times. “Über den Sternen” harkens back to some of Empyrium’s black metal/doomy roots which adds a bit of power and heaviness to the listening experience in the best possible way. When I heard the album in its entirety, I felt like that young 22-year-old who was lost in the soundscapes of “Where at Night…” thinking of ghosts, lost love, nature, and the mysteries of the universe. I felt a great sense of comfort and longing again within the music of “Über den Sternen”. The familiarity of Empyrium’s entire discography is found in spades within this record, whatever feelings their music evoked in you over the years it brings those feelings/memories back. Best Songs: The Three Flames Sapphire, The Oaken Throne, and The Wild Swans
Thus concludes my mini reviews of Empyrium’s discography. There is so much variety and intrigue found in each release. If you have a love for mystical/introspective music I would give all their albums a listen and please use a careful ear and an open mind. I guarantee that the imagery, and feelings found in their music will resonate with you long after. It will make you appreciate the nature around you and allow you to daydream and think of dark fairy tales if you allow the music to effect you that way. Healing comes with introspection and a quiet mind and Empyrium’s music will help facilitate that healing in a multitude of ways.