Italian progressive metallers Empyrios have returned with a beast of an album in Zion, a release which has something for everyone in sound and eclectic imagination. Following their acclaimed album The Glorious Sickness of 2008, the new slab of concentrated enterprise leaves the previous promise of the band wholly realised with a furnace of accomplished invention. Melding everything from industrial to hard rock, djent to classic rock, with plenty more flavours you care to imagine to its progressive heart, Zion is a hulk of a confrontation which inspires, provokes, and thrills from start to finish.
From Rimini, the band was founded by guitar virtuoso and acclaimed producer Simone Mularoni (DGM), and was soon awash with acclaim through debut album …And The Rest Is Silence in 2007 and The Glorious Sickness a year later. The years since the last release has seen the members of the quartet heavily involved with their other projects, touring and creating music making the time to this new release long for the anticipation of their fans. Guitarist Simone Bertozzi joined the Danish metal machine Mnemic for an extensive tour of Europe and Australia whilst drummer Dario Ciccioni was playing with Oliver Hartmann’s solo project Hartmann. Mularoni himself was leading DGM through a European tour with Symphony X but all the time the members were exchanging and working on elements and ideas for the new album with finally the opportunity to enter the studio for its realisation. The Mularonin produced eleven track behemoth, with vocalist Silvio Mancini completing the quartet, has enslaved the brutal and aggressively dynamic side of the band with its enamouring compelling melodic seduction for a tempest marking the band at a new height for their creativity within a devastating presence. Names like Strapping Young Lad, Nevermore, Symphony X, Fear Factory, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Meshuggah are all thrust upon the band and release as references and the release is an amalgam of those essences distilled into something purely individual to the band.
The Scarlet Records released album emerges from a war infused ambience to immediately trample and chew on the senses with crippling beats and gnarly savage riffs whilst electro industrial winds warm the clinging intensity. Opener Nescience takes mere moments to succumb the ear and senses, its rampaging appetite and corrosive breath a delicious malevolence with the snarling growls of bassist Bertozzi adding extra spite. Into its stride the clean melodic tones of Mancini wraps an emotive embrace around the wounds as the guitars also add their restrained flames but the ravaging heart of the track is never quelled, erupting and consuming at a constant persistence throughout. It is a staggering start which satisfies the violent intent and melodic temptation of all hearts with skill and invention.
The following Domino initially lays a sultry wash upon the ear before the tight rhythmic bombardment and mutually offensive riffs grab their piece of the senses firmly. Like the first, into the heart of its provocation the track is a Meshuggah meets Fear Factory blaze of energy whilst the vocals of Bertozzi explore further rock and progressive textures to bring extra thrills to the insatiable passion of the song. Both Masters and Reverie continue the predatory stance as well as unveiling the heart of each songs melodic sun, the first a riveting expanse of emotive persuasion within a frame of unpredictable and air disrupting rhythms with sabre flashes of guitar alongside whilst the second has flumes of rich melodic passion coursing within the walls of merciless metallic entrapment. Both songs without finding the key to the rapture sparked by their predecessors leave only prime satisfaction in their tow, their magnetic imagination and its skilfully carved aural narrative irresistible.
The excellent Unplugged next steps forward to leave the senses continually wrong-footed and disorientated with its psyche dance of schizo rhythms and equally deranged djent sculpted riffs, whilst around this the melodic heights of the song makes the smoothest conspirator to its vengeful riot of rapacious invention. Through the likes of the outstanding Renovation with its mesmeric call through barbed carnally bred textures, the vocals of Bertozzi quite stunning, the evocative title track, and the closing fury of Madman, the album gives no respite in its hold on the passions, though every song can be given with that welcoming trait. Admittedly the album is strongest across its first half but constantly the result to its impressive presence is hunger for more.
Zion is an excellent album and a very welcome return from a band in Empyrios which just gets better and better.
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