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Empyria - The Long Road Home CD (album) cover



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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "The Long Road Home" is the 5th full-length studio album by Canadian progressive/ power metal act Empyria. The album was released by Nightmare Records in June 2009. According to the liner notes in the booklet the songs are a mix of demo material, older unreleased material and new material. All songs are specifically recorded for this album though. One other thing I noticed reading the booklet is that Empyria emphasize that all audio tracks on the album are one takes, which in my understanding means, that there are no overdubs on the basic guitar, bass and drums tracks (feel free to correct me if I´m wrong). As they say in the booklet: "In keeping with our beliefs all tracks were performed live as full takes. Each in their entirety. By Humans. Not machines". A philosophy that demands respect in my book. There´s been a couple of lineup changes since their last album as former bassist/ lead vocalist Paul Falcon has returned to the fold to play bass on the album and Scott Gamble is the new drummer in the band.

The last album release by Empyria was "Sense of Mind" from 2002. So it´s been seven years between albums for Empyria but listening to "The Long Road Home" those years have more or less gone by unnoticed if you judge by the music style on the album. In the case of Empyria that´s definitely not a bad thing though as their progressive US power metal is a strong and powerful brew. "The Long Road Home" features several strong tracks and just to mention a few I think the strong album opener "The Endless Circle" (probably my favorite track by the band so far), "False Witness", the closing track "Returning Home" and another favorite of mine "Without Within" are some of the highlights on "The Long Road Home". All tracks on "The Long Road Home" have a consistent high quality level though. The heavy yet melodic guitars, the hard driving rythm section and the powerful and skilled lead vocalist Philip Leite are all defining for the heavy progressive power metal of Empyria.

The sound quality is excellent. A really powerful sound that suits the music well.

In my review of "Sense of Mind" I made comparisons to acts such as Fates Warning, Queensr˙che and Crimson Glory but acts such as Metal Church and Savatage are also valid references IMO. "The Long Road Home" is another great album by Empyria and fans of US influenced power metal with progressive elements are adviced to check out this album. A 3.5 star rating is deserved.

Report this review (#253732)
Posted Monday, November 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Quite honestly, I had never heard of Empyria before this album arrived, so I thought it best to conduct a little research regarding the band and found the results to be surprising. Empyria is a Canadian export that has been running strong for nearly 20 years. The band had been silent for the last seven years, however, while guitarist Mike Kischnick finished up commitments with Thor - a separate project. The latest album, The Long Road Home, is a collection of unreleased songs that were taken from a combination of previously played live songs and earlier demos. I sat down with the album, took one look at the terrible cover art, heard the generic intro and all but made up my mind about the band: there was a reason I had never heard of them before. It only took a couple of minutes before the waves of 80s hard rock (think Dio or Ozzy Osbourne) crashed into early prog (think Awaken the Guardian-era Fates Warning and Queensr˙che) and had me backpedaling on my initial conclusion. I found the material here to go down quite smooth and the progressive leanings to be much subtler than I had expected. There are not a lot of prolonged solo sections, abstract song structures or overly dexterous performances. The members are certainly proficient at their respective instruments, particularly so with regards to drummer Scott Gamble, who is new and a good find for the band, but theirs is a more restrained or tasteful proficiency which allows the progressive flavors to come through in more of the nuances of the material rather than outright musicianship. Songs like "The Endless Circle", "False Witness", "Lonely People", "Can't Wait Forever" and "Returning Home" have a slightly greater focus on technicality with quite a few short, tight instrumental runs and solo-filled midsections, but the majority of the material here, including those songs, is incredibly accessible. A lot of these songs display the versatility of Empyria, as they effectively mix clean guitar parts with otherwise distorted, speedy riffage. This type of writing allows guitarist Mike Kisnchnick, who also provides some mild keyboard melodies and atmospherics, to change dynamics and textures throughout the album. Kischnick does this various ways, as "Last Rites" lightly brushes its riffs with sparkling clean strums while "False Witness" has a clean guitar bridge and "Of All the Dreams" has the clean guitar play the rhythm parts at the start of the verses. This causes the original riff to absolutely slam back into the song when it is re- introduced. The Geoff Tate meets Ozzy Osbourne vocal approach of Pete Liete also works well with these songs whether it be the ballad-y "Last Rites" or the more charged effort of "False Witness". I also like the fact the band does not congest the mix with a lot of rhythm guitar parts since this allows bassist Paul Falcon, who was the original bassist and vocalist, to fill in the space with a lot of great bouncing, melodic bass lines. I like what I heard enough on this album to seek out some additional information on their previous album. I am not sure how often I will reach for this album since the style is rather dated, but I know that I enjoyed what the band had to offer on this release. Those of you who really enjoy the Fates Warning/Crimson Glory/Queensr˙che style of prog will find plenty to love here, but those who enjoy and seek out only the more modern progressive approach would probably be well served to look somewhere else.
Report this review (#377531)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. EMPYRIA are a Prog-Metal band out of British Columbia, Canada and they sound like the Metal bands I grew up listening to in the eighties. I'm sure they listened to the same bands I did like IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST etc. but there is also a FATES WARNING flavour, my favourite Metal band. In the liner notes they say "Some of the material on this record appeared on the "Ornamental Ironworks" demo back in 1993, but was never commercially available. Reunited with original bassist / vocalist Paul Falcon, we re-recorded them to show the band's earlier Prog-Rock & Metal influences.This record also contains some new tracks and some others played live by EMPYRIA but never properly recorded or released". Also "In keeping with our beliefs, all tracks were performed as full takes, each in their entirety by humans not machines".

"Intro" is a countdown by Nassau then a transmission by them before it kicks into "The Endless Circle" quite heavily. Here we go ! This is heavy and catchy with vocals. Nice guitar solo 2 minutes in. "False Witness" opens with synths rolling in as crunchy guitars and drums follow. Nice bass too as the vocals arrive. I like the calm before a minute then it kicks back in hard the rest of the way. "No Other Way" has a relaxed sound as reserved vocals join in. It picks up each time on the chorus. Again some great prominant bass and it turns heavier before 3 minutes. "Lonely People" is catchy and uptempo with vocals.This is one of my favourites. Just an excellent vocal performance here. "Last Rites" is mellow to start with vocals then it turns heavy.This reminds me of FATES WARNING a lot.

"Can't Wait Forever" has this heavy undercurrent then it settles with vocals before 1 1/2 minutes. It kicks back in then settles back as contrasts continue. We get a guitar solo 3 1/2 minutes in. "Of All The Dreams" has some good energy with the focus on the vocals. Some ripping guitar after 2 minutes. Nice. "Without Within" is almost ballad-like to start but it picks up quickly and turns heavier. "Solitude" is a cool track with two acoustic guitars and water sounds. Atmosphere comes in late in this short instrumental. "Returning Home" has some nice deep bass as a poweerful soundscape rolls in. It settles back some as the vocals arrive. How good is this ! It turns instrumental 3 minutes in. This is fantastic ! Vocals are back after 4 1/2 minutes.The music stops and we can hear the waves rolling in at 6 minutes over and over to end it.

I really like the way this band "sounds" and those of you into straight-up Prog Metal should really check them out.

Report this review (#409112)
Posted Monday, February 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Empyria takes us back to the 1980s with this album, which I guess is their fifth album. I won it in one of the PA prize draws and I know very little about this band.

The sound is as I stated very much the 1980s with Judas Priest, Queensryche and in particular Fates Warning as the references. Those and tonnes of other US heavy metal bands from that time. Progressive ? Well, not in my opinion. But the songs are catchy and melodic though. Very melodic in fact.

I normally detest the 1980s heavy metal with a burning passion. Too much hairspray, in my view. But I conceed that there is some good quality on this album. There is no great tracks though. Neither is it any bad tracks. Even the ballads are good here. Good, but not great. Anyway, I have had a cosy time with this album and I am not complaining or slagging it off. It this is your cup of tea; get this album. Others may go somewhere else.

3 stars

Report this review (#413122)
Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2011 | Review Permalink

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