Saturday, July 27, 2019

Sunday night July 28 in Arlington, Washington state

Friends in the Everett/Marysville/Arlington areas,
This is a reminder that tomorrow night (Sunday night) this show takes place.
July 28. Gallows Hymn / Orator / Izthmi
Sun 7 PM · Mirkwood Public House · Arlington, Washington
"The Northend Roar presents: Gallows Hymn returns to the Mirkwood with some of the raddest PNW bands around. Brutality together with with some nordic-style hellish fuses equals... metal. Don't miss it."
[Gallows Hymn used to be called Empyrean]
FYI: Metal Archives has a review of Orator. This is what Metal Archives says about the band. FYI: This review is not by Metal Bulletin Zine. It is here for your information.
Kallipolis, or “beautiful city” in Greek, is both Orator’s debut album, and the nice yellow cover art. For a band in its infancy, this is impressive death metal and shows a band that’s got more chops than their age suggests. Opener “Kallipolis” starts with a nice clean guitar section before the metal kicks in. This song is a pretty decent introduction to what you’re in for with its swirling riffs and hyper-fast drumming. It blends seamlessly into “Emperor” and by this point the tricks the album will throw at you will be revealed.
First and foremost, the drumming here is absolutely insane, which isn’t surprising considering the exceptionally talented Marco Pitruzzella is the one behind the kit. He is in numerous bands and offers his services as a session drummer for even more death metal projects. His drumming style is very intense and it’s a love-it-or-hate-it paradigm; on the one hand, his speed is almost unmatched and can play really fast for a really long amount of time, however on the other hand his drumming isn’t creatively adventurous and quite triggered. Me, personally? I don’t care that it’s triggered. I think he’s a fantastic drummer and I’m usually a fan of the projects he’s in (special mention to Anomalous who created one of the best technical death metal albums I have heard). Orator is no different in that regard, as this is another project I can get behind. Marco’s drumming is, yet again, the highlight of any album he’s on and that rings true here. He blasts and kicks his way around with such speed and aplomb that it’s hard to ignore. I’m a big fan of his drumming and I guess that’s going to positively bias my score. Shrug.
The riff work is still impressive, pulling out chugging and rolling riffs all over the place. I quite like the lead work as that’s where the more memorable parts come out. There’s some nice solos, such as in “Mentor” and “Follower.” The solos are neither bombastic nor wanky, rather they fit the music quite well. I don’t think it matters too much as there’s a lot of other things going on to fill that gap. Vocals are a harsh yell. I like the fact that there’s some sort of legibility to the lyrics, but I can see that the style might be an acquired taste.
“Emperor” is more intense and flowing for its runtime, but the songs don’t always follow that sort of feel. “Elder” has a punchier, pounding feeling with its main riff and is a bit more of a headbanger. Then there’s “Follower” which is a mostly instrumental piece until the very end and contains more melody and the bulk of the album’s solos. So, despite the songs all following similar traits, each song does actually have its own identity and can stand alone.
A level of criticism will be the short nature of the album. The intro track notwithstanding, we’re left with just five songs. These songs are quite lengthy for this style of death metal, but it’s still an album that only just cracks the half-hour mark. When the album ends I’m always disappointed that there isn’t any more music to listen to. I guess this makes the album highly repeatable, which is what I have done, too. Despite the intense nature of the drumming and the hard-hitting riffs, the album itself is very easy to digest and isn’t that difficult of an album to listen to. For people not into this style of clear, hyper-blasting death metal, this album would actually be a good place to start. The drumming and vocals may be the points of contention and the reason someone may enjoy the album or not, but to me this is some very good quality stuff and worthy of picking up.
FYI: Metal Archives has a review of Empyrean. This is what Metal Archives says about the band. FYI: This review is not by Metal Bulletin Zine. It is here for your information.
"Empyrean", which can mean "the highest part of heaven", seems to be a popular name for metal bands and that could cause problems in future for this band from Washington state as it strives for recognition in its own right. That would be a pity as the music on this self-titled EP is lively and catchy melodic black metal even though the sound is on the light side. The production is especially clear and bright and the drumming is very clean. Instrumental passages in the band's music are almost sparkling, which may or may not have been the original intention but at least they show the musicians' talent and enthusiasm for playing as a tight and skillful unit. Lyrics delivered in a gruff and almost indecipherably thick BM vocal style hark back to the Irish Gaelic past: a past of war-like resistance to overwhelming enemies and defiance in the face of incredible odds and oppression.
Opening track "The Calling Pipes" is a stirring song with martial tunes and riffs, lots of clashing cymbals suggestive of sword-fighting duels, and moments of atmospheric post-BM longing for days long disappeared into the misty mythical past. The spidery lead guitar solo is a major highlight as is the moody coda. Second track "Taimid Bas d'Eirinn" continues with the martial theme and flavour but with a more swanky and jovial air urging listeners to join the party as fighters head off into battle. The fight may end up with everyone dead and gone but hey, if you're going to die (and everyone eventually dies in the end), you may as well go out with a big bang and take as many of your foes with you as you can. Again the long instrumental section emphasises a lead guitar solo leading the rest of the instruments into war and the impression gained is of a long fought and arduous battle.
"Holocene Incarnation" is the sole instrumental track which in itself isn't bad but it doesn't offer much that the band hasn't already done; sure, it's an opportunity for the musicians to show off their skill and ability to play as a tight unit but that's about it. Quite a few songs could have been hived off it as there are fast and slow sections, and plenty of virtuoso playing. "Wanderings of Khaibut" sounds the most Odinpop of the entire recording with catchy rousing tunes and riffs. As it continues, the music finally achieves the emotional heights that were dormant in earlier tracks and this track turns out to be the best one of the four on offer.
The EP is a good if not very original package that may have been done to attract the attention of record labels which may explain its minimal nature and conservatism in its themes and musical style. It certainly showcases the musicians' talent and songwriting abilities, and they play with plenty of energy and enthusiasm. I'd have liked to hear a more distinctive and individual sound, something that distinguishes Empyrean from all the other bands calling themselves Empyrean or Empyrean something-or-other. Perhaps more time spent playing together and experimenting with their sound and instruments may be all that the guys need to develop a distinct style. On future releases, the band can afford to take more risks with its sound and themes - I think these guys are keeping something up their sleeves that may surprise their fans.

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