Shade Empire is back with a new album.
Since 1999 in Finland, the band has offered a unique blend of Black and Death metal. In 2023, Eero Mantere (bass), Juha Sirkkiä (guitar, Thence), Rasane (drums, Thence, Winterwolf), Aapeli Kivimäki (guitar, Soulfallen, Silentium) and Henry Hämäläinen (vocals, Halysis, Neon Dæmon, ex-Raven Claw) continue their adventure with Sunholy, their sixth album, released by Candlelight Records.
Orchestrations were created with the help of Francesco Ferrini (Fleshgod Apocalypse).
Opening track In Amongst the Woods greets us with an icy sound and a visceral scream, then develops its heavy atmosphere by letting majestic riffs cohabit with shifting vocal parts. The band skilfully places numerous pauses, making the sound unexpected before The Apostle hit us with its imposing introduction, quickly complemented by clean vocals making the rhythmic epic, or by wild howls contrasting with the orchestrations’ beauty. The vocalist doesn’t shy away from bringing great diversity, just as he does on This Coffin an Island, which also features modern keyboards in a Prog-oriented approach, which is confirmed when saxophone and female vocals come into play. The track remains rather quiet until the end, but the fury resurfaces on Sunholy, the eponymous track, which crushes us under an as dark as majestic massive sound, reserving a slightly more timid place for clean vocals. The break leaves a few mysterious words wandering around, before the heavy rhythm returns to sweep them away, giving way to Torn Asunder and its jerky mechanical riffs overlaid with haunting vocal parts. While some parts are genuinely heavy and aggressive, the tone calms down towards the end, leaving Maroon to return to scathing icy leads and fiercer Old School elements. But mystical and mysterious elements soon slow down the hurricane of fury, which lets us move from terror to quietness before exploding again, offering an intense vocal performance before soaking up soothing tones once more on All-Consuming Flame, which gradually flares up. The rhythmic pattern strengthens and adopts new elements from time to time, such as the saxophone making a comeback, then it’s with a very airy touch that Profane Radiance begins, but it obviously doesn’t last and is swept away by much faster, sharper elements. The track is guided by its devastating eruptions, which eventually dry up to lead us to Rite of Passage, the soothing final track, which closes the album with its intoxicating melodies flying over a simple rhythm, welcoming a masterful clear voice.
Shade Empire’s world is not only made of darkness, and even allows Sunholy to offer heady melodies to contrast its rawest riffs and most majestic orchestrations in a very natural way.