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Empyrica - 2012 - "A Quiet Land of Fear"

(65:04, ‘Empyrica’)



1.  Overtura 2:05
2.  Infinito 6:49
3.  Pyramid 8:51
4.  Deus ex Machina 2:43
5.  Gehena 29A 6:32
6.  Zero 7:51
7.  Analitica 6:06
8.  Experientia Docet 1:26
9.  El Paramo 5:33
10. Oxigeno 7:17
11. Querty 10:26


Javier Lopez – guitars; keyboards
Jesus Alvarez – keyboards  
Nieves Chivite – vocals 
Ulises Dietta – drums
Jose Lopez – bass

Prolusion. The press kit of this CD contains probably the most concise info on a band I’ve ever met with, only saying that “Infinito” is the new album by EMPYRICA, a group from Spain. I believe this is their first outing ever.

Analysis. There are eleven tracks here, ranging from one and a half to ten and a half minutes in length, of which the shortest three, Overtura, Deus ex Machina and Experientia Docet, all only feature synthesizer effects plus narratives in the latter two cases. None of these contain music as such, so it’s beyond my comprehension what the reason was in adding them to a recording which lasts for about one hour already without them, though I would have not relished those cuts even if the CD was half as long as it is. Thankfully, otherwise everything is overall fine here, to put it simply and unpretentiously. Stylistically and compositionally, there is an obvious debt to Dream Theater throughout seven of the album’s eight vocal tracks (save the vocals themselves, which I’ll describe later), namely the title piece, Zero, Oxigeno, Analitica, Querty, Pyramid and Gehena 29A. Although the Spaniards play without the bravery or, say, technical wizardry of the American band, there are still sufficient twists and turns on each of these to keep it interesting. Besides, Empyrica distinguishes itself from most other prog-metal bands by the dominance of keyboards as lead instruments, especially within the songs’ vocal sections, where they solo almost ceaselessly, always diversely, in the symphonic art-rock manner. Too often prog-metal keyboardists stay in the background, and when they do venture into a lead position, they play in a style and with a timbre that sound more like those of a MIDI guitar. Happily, there’s not the case here. Jesus Alvarez unleashes on both acoustic and Fender Rhodes piano (and also on Moog on some occasions) sounds, making them all solo in different directions. They’re at times featured even more prominently than Javier Lopez’s crunchy guitar, and then the music veers towards Neo Symphonic Progressive. Singer Nieves Chivite is an aspirant in the tradition of Doro Pesh and, to some degree, even Janis Joplin. Her voice is powerful, often positively aggressive, her singing always effective (I’m glad that the lyrics are in the band’s native language). Drummer Ulises Dietta and bassist Jose Lopez both play in classic metal style, the former driving relentlessly on the ‘butt’, snare drums and cymbals. There are few striking differences between the songs. The first three of them start out in a heavy mode; Analitica and Querty both begin as an interplay between piano and synthesizer, Pyramid does so deploying effects and vocoder, while Gehena 29A’s finale sounds like a brief classical music piece for piano. As for the remaining track, El Paramo, it has a surprising change of pace, as well as style – to a certain degree. It opens and develops slowly with lots of keyboards and clean, smooth-tone guitar and is quite a switch from the other, predominantly fast, songs. Before and after its sixty percent point, however, where the music is all-instrumental, the tune gets a Symphony X sounding that typifies most of the album, but then, within its last segments, returns to the quieter melodic style of the intro (etc.) for the ending. In other words, the piece has a certain balladic quality to it, but only within its vocal sections.

Conclusion. While Empyrica covers no new ground on “Infinito”, this is a very good effort overall, standing out for its original and inventive keyboards, as well as vocals, to say the least. Recommended to fans of modern Prog-Metal.

VM=Vitaly Menshikov: April 16, 2012
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