Empyrium - _A Retrospective..._
(Prophecy Productions, 2006)
by: Pedro Azevedo (8 out of 10)
Ten years after Empyrium's debut and four after their farewell album, selected tracks from their four full-length records have now been gathered into a compilation filled with material every doom and dark folk addict should own.

In order to help prod Empyrium fans into buying the hardcover digibook or the special box edition, a few goodies have been added: remastered and re-recorded versions of certain tracks, two previously unreleased songs, and an extensive book exclusive to the box version.

Besides all of the remastered material on offer, the aforementioned re-recording consists of "The Franconian Woods in Winter's Silence" from their first album _A Wintersunset..._. It is a proper, well thought-out re-recording, with a different vocal approach and an acoustic guitar backbone; the electric guitar and black vocals that erupt towards the end of the track are simply spine-chilling. Comparing the original to this re-recording seems pointless, as one thrives on spontaneity and the other on musicianship.

Only the acoustic "A Gentle Grieving Farewell" is featured from the original version of their debut, before giving way to two full tracks from the classic _Songs of Moors & Misty Fields_: "The Blue Mists of Night" and "Mourners". This being an absolutely mandatory album for anyone with an interest in the genre, let alone this particular band, there isn't a lot to say -- other than that the sound seems to have been slightly polished, and that you should just get the full album.

Next comes _Where at Night the Wood Grouse Plays_, represented by its title track, "Dying Brokenhearted" and "The Shepherd and the Maiden Ghost", effectively starting the acoustic part of the disc. All three tracks are good picks from what is clearly the least remarkable record of Empyrium's discography.

Four tracks from the band's last album, _Weiland_, were chosen for the compilation: "Heimwärts", "Waldpoesie", "Die Schwäne im Schilf" and "Das blau-kristallne Kämmerlein". While entertaining and relevant in the context of this compilation, these songs are also still relatively recent, so they lack the kind of nostalgic impact found earlier on the disc.

The unreleased tracks, titled "Der Weiher" and "Am Wolkenstieg", are also in the same vein as their latter work on _Weiland_, and close the retrospective. The former is about five minutes long and very good, while the latter is only just over a couple of minutes and serves as more of a final epilogue to their career than a full song.

Deciding whether to buy this release will of course depend on whether you own all the records you want from their discography; and in that case, how much of a collector you really are, and how much you value the extra content and packaging. My rating only tries to reflect how good I think this is as a compilation, as far as track selection and extras (I have only had access to a cardboard promo, so I cannot comment on the packaging or book, which might have given it an extra mark). In terms of the quality of the music contained in this disc, a brief look at the ratings Empyrium have received in CoC over the years should provide a strong enough indication of my opinion: an outstanding band with an unfortunately brief career, Empyrium should be a staple in any music collection where doom or dark folk are considered relevant.

Contact: http://www.empyrium.de

(article published 18/1/2007)


CHATS
3/5/2000 P Azevedo Empyrium: Songs of Sorrow For the Sleepless
ALBUMS
1/27/2015 M Dolson 9 Empyrium - The Turn of the Tides
9/1/2002 P Azevedo 9 Empyrium - Weiland
8/12/1999 P Azevedo 7 Empyrium - Where at Night the Wood Grouse Plays
4/13/1998 P Azevedo 10 Empyrium - Songs of Moors & Misty Fields
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