The post-black metal artist Unreqvited has captured a work of startling beauty on their new album Empathica, which is available now via Prophecy Productions. Even the already broad concept of post-black metal doesn’t seem like it entirely covers the scope of the sounds on this release. The artist includes some of the traditional instrumentation that is a hallmark of the genre, but they’ve interwoven these elements into a beautiful tapestry that also includes orchestral pieces, lengthy piano components, and more. Altogether, the songs feel like an especially personable journey to some kind of precarious but opportunity-filled great beyond, of sorts.
The first track on this album sounds like a startlingly triumphant performance from a small orchestra. The feel seems reminiscent of what would be or at least should be the soundtrack to a moment in a science fiction film when characters arrive at a faraway planet. As the uncertain but expansively bright horizon comes into view, this music feels like the perfect sonic accompaniment to capture the mood.
The orchestral drama continues beyond that track, but it’s placed alongside more traditional depressive black metal instrumentation, like somber guitar segments and agony-wracked vocals. But, the brighter orchestral segments weren’t just designed as some kind of moment to capture listeners’ attention and leave them hanging. Empathica features a consistent give-and-take between elements including that traditionally raw instrumentation, wordless choral singing, epic orchestral strings, and ample helpings of pristine keys. For example, although after a couple of minutes, the keys are joined by fierce streaks of riffing and eventually roaring vocals, the track “Empathica III: Innocence” hinges on a lengthy, poignantly dramatic piano melody. Throughout the entirety of the closing track, called “Dreamer’s Hideaway” (whose title aptly captures the mood), soft piano melodies take center stage.
Empathica really doesn’t include many blast beat-oriented drum segments at all — although they do make an appearance on the especially propulsive track “Crystal Cascade,” which also features some startlingly heavy guitar blasts. However, the very next track focuses entirely on much softer melody; in other words, the oppressive feel doesn’t stick.
The overall focus of the occasionally lacerating but always epic music packed into this album feels like it’s with reaching for the heavens, in a metaphorical and musical sense. The artist sounds like they approached softer instrumentation with the determination to infuse it with the energy that’s normally reserved for blistering black metal, and they’ve succeeded quite powerfully at capturing a deeply stirring mix featuring raw intensity funneled into heavenly sonic ambition.
Check out Empathica by Unreqvited below!