Album: Empire of the Void
Label: Black Lion Records
Release Date: March 20th, 2020
For Fans Of: Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Swallow the Sun
Extreme metal has really been pretty keen on space these days. Vektor, both Spectral Lore/Mare Cognitum releases, Blood Incantation, to name only a few, have all put out (inter)stellar albums with the cosmos as primary thematic elements. Honestly, who can blame them. As we all have been watching economic and ecological systems the world over slowly collapse around us, shifting our gaze towards the cosmos seems pretty fitting. More importantly, however, space is pretty neat. It’s incomprehensibly spacious and infinite, with more planets and stars than we can even conceivably imagine. And add to that the prospect of extraterrestrial life, and you have a perfect recipe for a whole host of themes for an extreme metal album.
Although we have been blessed with some really great space-themed metal albums recently, just the sheer amount of artists working with this theme necessitates that there will be a few that just don’t stand up and meet our expectations. And Empire of the Void is, unfortunately, just that album.
Melancholic Italian doom metallers Tethra have been pumping out their brand of gothic metal since 2008, completing two full length albums and an EP prior to Empire of the Void. This newest album of Tethra’s takes the thematic elements of space as an infinite void and makes it internal, where the void is both outside of us and inside of us. And while that all makes for an interesting concept, Tethra’s slow and brooding song structure just makes the whole thing fall flat.
Each song on Empire of the Void seems to suffer from the same problem: having interesting moments without quite being able to figure out where the song is trying to go or what it is trying to do. The eighth track, “A Light Year Breath”, is a great example of this: distorted and chugging guitars that lead to a melody that I found myself enjoying, until I didn’t. The same is true for “Gravity Pt. III: Ultimo Baluardo” and “Dying Signal”, each sounding promising and enjoyable at the outset, but slowly just devolved into a meandering that left me unenthused.
And none of this speaks to the true horror of this album: their cover of “Space Oddity” by none other than David Bowie. This cover is, to put it mildly, regrettable. Like, in the same vein as Disturbed covering Simon and Garfunkel, but less enthusiastic.
Overall, this album didn’t really do it for me. Despite a few moments in a few songs, I found myself frequently checking to see if the album was going to be over soon. This is a band that really wants to be taken seriously, and wants us to view them as deep and articulate thinkers. Everything about this album reflects this. Every guitar stroke and drum beat feels deliberate and mechanistic. And while there is no argument that they are all talented musicians and artists, it doesn’t make this album exciting. All things considered, don’t beat yourself up too bad if you sleep on this one.
- Cold Blue Nebula
- Gravity Pt. I: Ascension
- Gravity Pt. II: Aeons Adrift
- Gravity Pt. III: Ultimo Baluardo
- Empire of the Void
- Space Oddity
- A Light Year Breath
- Dying Signal
Total Playing Time: 56:33