Last updated on 10 July 2020
Metal music is where many proponents dearly love a constant. Genres nicely stowed into neat little boxes and progressing along rulez that someone once decreed.
Because we have no idea who that may have been. It’s a bit like the unwritten book of laws turned terrible grimoire. Because everyone can establish a style and then declare it the law of metal.
And some of those freewheelers paid a pretty hefty price. Like the astounding amounts of hate Myrkur had to endure. Because the band around Amalie Bruun dared to challenge the guardians of the genre’s rigid style police.
So, here we have Tethra. Another band not overly concerned by them proverbial little boxes. Not necessarily a totally free spirit, their newest full-length album Empire of the World nonetheless contains enough juicy moments for this crew here to vote for yet another review.
Their former album Like Crows for the Earth worked the progressive side of Doom Metal so bad, we almost suffered an identity crisis. Yet in the end, it turned out to be a highly complex blend of varying styles, served on a platter of borderline fake doom. Not that this particular album was bad at all, only that we got a darkly gothic piece, as opposed to a trve ocean of spicy tears.
But you’re in for a change.
Now, with their 3rd album, Empire of the Void, Clode Tethra kinda returns to base and hits the fan crowd with some real melancholy. A mix somewhere in between of the amazingly gnarly Esogenesi and bands like, or similar to, Paradise Lost. Of course, with My Dying Bride in the offing, we need proper countermeasures.
And here Tethra‘s newest comes in handy.
Empire of the Void majestically marches down that new doom road at an almost funeral pace at times. So, already the pretty cathedral intro Cosmogenesis had me transfixed. And that’s a pretty powerful opening right there.
But the direction of the record becomes clear when the slow-marching doom in Cold Blue Nebula hits you. All of that delivered on a foundation of slightly blackened Melodic Death Metal. It feels a bit like that dangerously decadent taste of hotly spiced black chocolate. Devilishly sinful, ain’t it? And don’t I just love the subtle passages of tremolo towards the end.
But that is also where the real main flaw of Empires of the Void becomes apparent. The record is so highly compressed, some of the lighter details – like the strings for instance – almost lose themselves in the mix.
You also get these stretches where the guitars dominate the tune to the detriment of the vocals. So yet again, this urge to produce weepy, ever-present guitars to generate a tear-drenched soundscape seems to be a fashion of late. Even if Tethra remains with the moderate ones on this issue and things continue to be balanced.
Also, I found those long patches of decidedly good Doom Death Metal, yet without anything to really write home about. Thus the gravity series kinda smoothly sails along that sea of downturned riffs and growls. Until you hit Ultima Baluardo, the one that will shake you awake with some truly electric metal.
And whoever said that covers cannot be good? Space Oddity – a piece originally from David Bowie’s original from December 1969 – blows things out into space. Tethra clearly have this same gift to squeeze oldish pop songs into a crazily doom-laden, metallic framework. A bit like INK did some time ago.
And you’re in for an added bonus. Empires of the Void ignites them booster rockets towards the end of the tracklist yet again. A Light Year Breath with Gogo Melone (Aeonian Sorrow) travels forward on those hefty Heavy Metal beats. The one track that always sticks a smile onto my face. And by the holy metal cow, this one really shook me awake after the trance of Major Tom petered out. That they maintain this drive until the bitter end is just the cherry on the cake for this record.
Empires of the Voids injects some real meaty metal and energy into Tethra‘s tune. Whilst the band’s sophomore album still kinda searched for itself, this record gives no such impressions. This is one varied piece of Doom Death Metal, sprinkled with some ambients and artfully arranged clears throughout the record. Something Grim Ravine tried out with some success as well, by the way.
Empires is an innovative piece, cooked to perfection and just the way we like it. Keep going, Tethra.
Get dat tune: