Fantasy lyrical themes often bring me back to over-the-top and cheesy power metal bands like Dragonforce and the likes, and the album artwork of Smargroth
's second full length album Empyreal Cycle
certainly brings about such a feeling, with artwork that is worthy to be on fantasy RPGs. Little would one expect, of all metal subgenres, for this to be a black metal album.
opens the album, and one is immediately reminded of such Finnish black metal bands as Sargeist
, with the trebly riffing style, the somewhat depressing melody and the cold, bleak atmosphere that will linger throughout the album. In the midst of all these though, there is a certain epic feel in the music, with the clever usage of the various instruments. Throughout the album, it is high energy melodic black metal, with hardly any breaks or slow downs at all as the band crashes through the whole 40 minutes.
The band also makes use of elements such as female vocals and other non-conventional stringed instruments on some of the tracks, bringing in a somewhat folk-ish sound into the music such as on Lamenting the Fallen
, and this helps preventing the music from getting too boring and predictable, though moments such as these are few. Illusion
also introduces a short acoustic section in the middle, giving slight variation to the pace of the album as well. Riffings on Awe also bring in some melodic death metal inspired riffs. Last Illumination ends the album nicely, rousing a sense of heroism in the listener with the epic soundscape. There are also times when the lead guitars are drowned out by the rest of the instruments, making it hard to hear the guitar solos, which could have helped in making the album more enjoyable.
While the individual members of the band display their abilities on each of their instruments, the band unfortunately falters in the songwriting department as most songs fail to sufficiently capture the attention of the listener, with only slight differences in sound between each of them, and the only track standing out being Lamenting the Fallen
said though, Empyreal Cycle
is definitely good music to go along with your troll-hunting quests in whatever RPG you may be playing.