I’ve been following Empyrium for quite a while. I first heard about the band back when they were playing a form of Black Metal that was similar to early Ulver, mixing acoustic and atmospheric elements in with the harsher stuff in a way that was pretty interesting to me at the time. Over the years, the group shed their Black Metal edge and went more and more into the realms of Neo-Folk, sounding more like Sol Invictus than Emperor or Burzum. I’ve never been a huge fan of Neo-Folk, mostly because a lot of those bands are dreadfully boring in my opinion. Still, I always made time for Empyrium because they were one of the few bands out there that could make an acoustic album work. The Turn of the Tides is very much in the same vein as their last release, the live Into the Pantheon, which captured the essence of the band’s style. Two of the songs from The Turn of the Tides, “Dead Winter Ways” and “The Days Before the Fall”, were played on Into the Pantheon so if you have that release, you have a good idea where this LP is going already. The difference between the live renditions of those songs and the studio versions, though, is pretty noticeable. The live versions were good, but the studio versions are positively epic. They have far greater atmosphere and bombast, mostly because the keyboards/symphonic elements are more prominent. It borderlines Atmospheric Doom at times, channeling that dark and somber feeling extremely well. The Turn of the Tides has a more symphonic quality, and while not full-on Metal, it is more complex and interesting than your average Neo-Folk release. If you’re already a fan of Empyrium or you like Neo-Folk that’s more atmospheric and complicated than the “two-man acoustic jam” style that seems to be prevalent in that scene, The Turn of the Tides is an LP I recommend checking out immediately.
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