You may be forgiven for not knowing who Shade Empire are or even knowing that they were releasing a new album. Admittedly, I only found a few months ago that they were releasing something new after they posted the video for “Anti Life Saviour”, which is a masterpiece by the way. Their previous album, Omega Arcane, was nothing short of a masterpiece also and the first single they released was breathtaking. So, let’s dive in, shall we?
“Lecter (Welcome)” is the first song that appears and instantly I was reminded of just how much I love this band. After a haunting guitar refrain, the orchestral elements appear to elevate the song to a higher plane of existence. Then the chorus hits and the clean vocals add that little cherry on top of the delicious evil cake. The next track, “Wanderer” keeps things similar albeit instead of the clean vocals, we are treated to a delightful trumpet solo which fits in much better than you’d think. Once again, the orchestration and the band weave everything together to create another hauntingly beautiful track which is easily one of the best on the album.
“Drawn to Water” keeps the formula of band and orchestra yet takes on somewhat of a darker tone than the previous track. The additional ‘choir’ sounds present in the chorus once again elevates the song to new heights and injects counter melodies onto the already congested melody highway. The track then slowly fades away before the tympani roll of “Thy Scent” signals the begin of the madness again. Of particular note in this track are the almost screech-like vocals from (now departed) vocalist Juha Harju and once again a superb trumpet solo. Unlike in the second track however, the trumpet this time changes between reflective melodies and outright insane runs of notes not too dissimilar to diminished minor scales.
Now, the monolith that is “Anti-Life Saviour”. Sweet breath of Arkay, this track is amazing. Coming in at just under ten minutes, it’s not too dissimilar from “Disembodiment” from the previous album in terms of epicness. Unlike that track however, it doesn’t take as long to get things moving and just has so much more going on. Everything in this track serves a purpose and it’s probably one of the finest examples of an orchestra and metal music being joined together. The video for the track is just as impressive as the music which it accompanies. Check it out at the bottom of this article.
“Map Of Scars” opens with the orchestra before the super speed riffs smash in like an avalanche of melody. Whilst it doesn’t have as much of an epic feel as the previous track did, it does however have a lot more groove to it with a mid-paced driving feel alongside the flowing melodies of the strings. The final track on the album “Treasure (In Liquid Dreams Of Mirror Universe)”, brings everything that’s been explored in the previous songs together and combines them into one epic of evil melodic goodness. Arguably one of the darker tracks on the album, it brings the album to close in an expert fashion with both strings and another little trumpet part. To me, the ending part of “treasure…” symbolises people witnessing the devastation of something and being left open-mouthed at how brutal but symbolic it was. A strange feeling I know, but this kind of music can evoke these kinds of stories.
I know it’s cliche to say, but it really feels as though the band have become even better than they were with this release. Nothing feels out of place in the album and all the tracks can stand on their own and tell their own story. Which I think this music really does actually. It tells a story, but allows you to make the story up yourself and doesn’t force it in any way.
Standout Tracks: Lecter (Welcome), Wanderer, Anti-Life Saviour, Treasure (In Liquid Dreams Of Mirror Universe).
Puppetry Of The Ill Minded is available now via Candlelight Records.