Empyrios – Zion

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Review by Paul H Birch

Scarlet Records

That whole “Your mother cuts socks in Hell” Exorcist-cum-constipated Dalek scary death growl vocal shtick? Sorry, doesn’t work for me; I was more likely to have had a schoolboy crush about getting Linda Blair horizontal on a sofa than wanting to hide behind it during an episode of Dr Who. Fortunately, Empyrios’ vocals aren’t all grunting and grimace, though the music’s not as multi-dimensional as one would like coming from what I thought was a prog metal band.

Aggressive in delivery, there are lots of songs with stabbing riffs played over earnest military precise rhythms and I will admit they stayed in my head while I meandered elsewhere through life over the last week. The trouble is when the songs do take off in more varied directions they’re not that epic in nature, and so one has to adjust one’s expectations. Opening track ‘Nescience’ is atypical of the Empyrios sound and features a good blink-and-you-might-miss-it guitar solo, ‘Masters’ is the first number where the music develops beyond pneumatic mannerisms whereas on ‘Madman’ they opt for more lyrical verses and grinding choruses reversing their usual musical polarity.

Based in Rimini, Italy, Empyrios features vocalist Silvio Mancini, guitarist Simone Mularoni, Simone ‘Sym’ Bertozzi on bass and vocals and Dario Ciccioni on Drums. This is not a full time band, with the members playing either live or recording with other European acts. Not that you can deny the individuals commitment to the tracks on Zion, they’re tight as hell, it’s the fact that the sound is actually too consistent throughout – Production, or production costs, could be a problem. The vocals could do with being a little higher in the mix, the guitar sound is the same throughout and so it takes a number of listens for you to pick out a really good elongated riff being played underneath the main grind on a track like ‘Wormhole’. It also sounds like there may be a minimal use of keyboards or effects going on, I say bring them up in the mix to give a more epic feel and allow the guitarist to wail a little more like he does on ‘Square One’. I also think some nastier industrial noises wouldn’t go amiss so you can see I want my cake and to eat it.

With title track ‘Zion’ the band do begin to stretch out; still thrashing away but weighing in with more varied guitar patterns to embellish the piece, and the vocals melodic for the most part, occasionally in harmony and that death growl used sparingly and so all the more effective. On ‘Blackmail’ they take it all a couple of steps further, if they progress in that direction I would look forward to hearing more.

test bella zion4.5 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Nescience
  2. Domino
  3. Masters
  4. Reverie
  5. Unplugged
  6. Renovation
  7. Wormhole
  8. Square One
  9. Zion
  10. Blackmail
  11. Madman