EMPHERIS - Regain Heaven (NECROPULSAR - CD 2008)
Following the crushing debut “Ancient Necrostorms”, as well as other cool releases such as “Tales from Crematoria” EP or splits with Revelation of Doom or Morbid Execution, the time came when Empheris took the things more seriously and composed, then recorded material for their second full length CD, “Regain Heaven”, which Empheris released by themselves in 2008 under the label Necropulsar. When listening to this album and comparing it to “Ancient Necrostorms” there are a couple of things, which should be said about the way the band evolved. First of all, the dominant black metal influence on the previous album, which made the band play some seriously fast and relentless, almost classic black metal tracks, are almost completely gone on “Regain Heaven”. OK, the vocals may still sound quite black metallish, and thus the music of Empheris is often described as blackened thrash metal, which can make sense, when you listen to such tracks as “Gather in Hell to Regain Heaven”. But from the other hand the riffing on the album is more and more diving into the abyss of classic metal, thrash, death of the 80’s. Back then the differences between those styles were not so obvious, so a band, which plays thrash metal, like early Sodom, could easily been described as black metal, while Possessed, who are now seen as fathers of death metal were rather called thrash metal. So, let’s not worry our heads about the musical labels…
…because the riffing on “Regain Heaven” has really that kind of archaic, very old styled charm, which I like a lot. Empheris may use some faster drumming at times, like in the song I mentioned above, but mainly they just play as it was 1987. Another cool example is “Flamethorns”, one of my favourite tracks from the whole album. There are also some more blasting drum parts in there, but the base of this song is concentrated more on the classical rhythms and riffs – and they do sound damn cool! In this song I also like the vocals a lot, as they’re really well performed and diverse, so there may be a shriek in the vein of Mille Petroza, but also more clean singing in the chorus… But the effect is just cool. And “Bloodwrath” could have easily been taken from the Venom album, if you ask me. But although those Brits had also a song with very similar title (“Bloodlust”), this isn’t a cover, but could have been, as the vibe and everything else in this song is just very alike to the classic metal styles. When listening to this particular track, I have no more questions and things to desire. If you value the old school metal albums, then “Bloodwrath” will be a crushing experience to you.
But “Regain Heaven” keeps much more surprises and killer songs. Every part of this album is bringing something slightly different, so don’t get surprised when hearing the beginning of “Antichrist” for instance, with more of NWOBHM melody in it, which quickly evolves into the playing, which reminds me Nocturnal Blood quite much. The following songs go in similar way, to mention “Blasphemous Possession” or “Nihilistic Black Metal”. They’re relatively short slabs of thrashing riffs, pounding drums and shrieking vocals, in many ways they’re catchy as hell and belong to those songs, which make you bang the head like crazy and spit some blasphemies towards all the sacred. One song from the whole tracklist comes as a huge surprise and that’s “Symphony of Obliteration”. It is less thrashing, but more doomy and epic, the band used there some un-metal instruments like cellos or whatever and Adrian even sang with cleaner voice… Hmm, of course Empheris will burn in hell for using cellos – no doubt. But the song turned out to be pretty decent. It doesn’t really fit to the whole album so much, but definitely it works well for ending of it, as some sort of dessert after the blackened thrashing feast or something like that.
To resume, I must say that I like “Regain Heaven” a lot, even more than “Ancient Necrostorms”. Definitely the band took the right direction for their music and played it with furious energy and bloodlust. If you’re into bands like Nocturnal Breed or Desaster, then I must recommend you getting also “Regain Heaven”. Probably the only thing that I hate about this CD is again the poor quality of the layout of their album. I understand that the band wanted to keep everything as simple as possible, but come on! There are no lyrics and the booklet is so poorly printed that you cannot read anything from it. Or see, as the band photo looks like a white stain. Fuck, it’s really a wasted effort, which should have been corrected before unleashing the album upon the public.
Standout tracks: “Gather In Hell to Regain Heaven”, “Bloodwrath”, “Nihilistic Black Metal”, “Symphony of Obliteration”
Final rate: 85/100