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Empyria - Divided CD (album) cover

DIVIDED

Empyria

 

Progressive Metal

3.00 | 1 ratings

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TCat
3 stars Empyria is a Canadian progressive metal band that has been around for a while now, since 1990 to be precise. Yes, they did have a period of inactivity, but in this period of time, they have managed to release 5 full length albums, the last one released in 2009. The band is still around, however, and have released only 1 EP since that time. This EP was released in July of 2019, 10 years after their last full length album, and is called 'Divided'. The EP consists of 5 tracks and 2 bonus tracks for a total run time of 27 minutes. The current line-up consists of Phil Leite on vocals, Mike Kischnick on guitar and keys, Steve Bifford on guitar, John Buck on bass, and Scott Gamble on drums.

The EP starts with 'Dark Skies (MH-370)' which establishes their heavy guitar sound in an upbeat song and Liete's 'Axl-Rose- style' vocals. The music is quite straightforward heavy metal, a really great sound and rousing rocker with some great guitar work on the instrumental break, but nothing stands out as being necessarily progressive here, just a good sound. 'Divided' continues with this style with an even solider beat and a changing meter, but again, not really that progressive.

The next two songs are re-makes (up dates) of previously released tracks from their 'Behind Closed Doors' album from 1996. The big difference is that Liete is singing lead on these where before, they were sung by the original vocalist. It doesn't take long to hear a better progressive edge as the track 'Behind Closed Doors' has some tricky passages in rhythm and melody and some interesting meter changes, definitely not the standard heavy metal fare, yet still heavy with great guitar work. 'The Test of Time' is the 2nd of these re-makes. A nice bass line and slower riff start this one off, but the heaviness abates a bit as the intro continues, but returns with a renewed solidness when the vocals start. Again, this re-worked track has a more progressive sound to it signifying that these earlier tracks were much more inventive. The last proper track is a short outro track called 'Open Skies'. This is a simple acoustic track that lasts less than a minute.

The next tracks are considered bonus tracks. The first of these is 'Beyond the Doors' and it is the longest track on this EP at 5 minutes. The music returns to the more straightforward heavy metal sound. The addition of the background vocals on the chorus gives the song a fuller sound, but again, the newer track is like the other newer tracks in that they have less progressive traits. This track was originally released in 2014 as a single. The last bonus track is a cover of 'The Green Manalishi (with the Two-Pronged Crown)'. The track listing claims it is a Judas Priest cover, and it definitely sounds like the Judas Priest version, but the original was actually done by 'Fleetwood Mac' which JP covered, and did an excellent rocking version of it. Empyria's version sounds pretty faithful to the JP cover, but the vocals don't stand up to Rob Halford's vocals. The guitar work is good however.

So, what we get here is a great heavy metal EP from a band that has a lot of promise. The two reworked tracks are the most progressive here, signifying that the band has moved away from the more progressive sounds. Overall, it comes out as a very good heavy metal EP with some nice surprises, but it's short length, and the obvious difference in song writing quality is obvious with the older tracks being the best ones as far as being progressive. If I was rating this EP as just a heavy metal albums, I would give it 4 stars, but since it is considered progressive metal, I can only give it 3 with a recommendation to pay more attention to the two re-worked tracks.

TCat | 3/5 |

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