(By Brian Halsey, Staff Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
I’m not a picky guy. I love heavy music in various forms. A lot of the bands I like die out after a few albums and accompanying summer tours. You can’t blame them. They did what they set out to do; kick some ass and have some fun. Once in a while you get a vastly different beast. Every now and then, you get a band like EMPYREAN THRONE.
Both in attitude and execution Empyrean Throne is poised to devastate the metal community with something they can look back on in reverence. Produced, mixed, & mastered by Mick Kenney (Anaal Nathrakh), ‘Chaosborne’ is a militant and powerful workhorse of a début.
In a Scandinavian / European fusion of symphonic, black metal, ‘Chaosborne’ can best be described as all that is epic about staple bands like Dimmu Borgir, Behemoth, Cradle of Filth, and Fleshgod Apocalypse, with a heavy dose of their own unique style.
Clocking in at over an hour of destruction, Empyrean Throne gives the listener everything and then some to digest. Heavy, black metal. Beautiful and brutal guitar work.
High pitched screams, guttural death, gang vocals, ritualistic chants and occasional opera-esque vocals. The band is not afraid to experiment with acoustic bridges or middle-eastern string arrangements, but the core of this album is extreme metal.
With Empyrean Throne, there is no incubation period where they take a few albums to solidify their direction. ‘Chaosborne’ is a serpent ready to bare its teeth. The secrets of this clandestine black metal order was unleashed August 11th.
Andrew Knudsen – Vocals
Mike Brennan – Guitars
Spencer Strange – Guitars
Grey – Bass
Leviathan – Drums
In a special addition to the review, we also have an interview with Empyrean Throne‘s vocalist, Andrew Knudsen!!
Brian Halsey/Riff Relevant: Congratulations on your new album, Chaosborne. It sounds phenomenal and was released by M-Theory Audio on August 11th. Can you start by telling us how that deal came to fruition?
Andrew/Empyrean Throne: Thank you! Glad that you are enjoying Chaosborne yourself. We are so excited that over two years worth of work is finally seeing the light of day. Originally, we were going to self-release the record back in January of this year; however, upon partnering with Extreme Management Group, we (our manager Mark Muller and ourselves) collectively decided that it would be in the band’s best interest to embark on a label shop. We were then approached by Marco Barbieri about joining the ranks of M-Theory Audio.
Brian Halsey/Riff Relevant: Although the label is relatively new, Marco Barbieri (ex-President of Century Media) has a wealth of experience. What is your relationship with M-Theory Audio like?
Andrew/Empyrean Throne: Marco is one of a kind. We are honored to be working with him and to have his support for Empyrean Throne. He’s someone who doesn’t require a façade when we are around each other. He’s honest, direct, and goal-oriented. His inherent knowledge of the inner workings of the music industry, combined with his résumé of experience are both impressive and comforting. He wants to see us grow and we are ready to do so.
Brian Halsey/Riff Relevant: In previous interviews, the band has made a habit of giving grammatically impressive and goal-oriented answers. Is that a measured effort, or does it come naturally?
Andrew/Empyrean Throne: Thank you. We strive to show potential fans that we are a force to be reckoned with. Our Order is a goal-oriented one. We appreciate every interview that comes our way and we aim to provide appropriate responses.
Brian Halsey/Riff Relevant: You seem like a band with a hard work ethic and high expectations. How do you predict people will react to Chaosborne? Additionally, how would you define success for this album?
Andrew/Empyrean Throne: We don’t want to assume anything, but we hope that Chaosborne will grab people’s attention or possibly get noticed by those who have written us off in the past. We wanted to make a statement with this record, which we believe we have.
In terms of defining the “success” for Chaosborne, that’s hard to say. I’d say the record has already brought us success with the partnership of Empyrean Throne, M-Theory Audio, and EMG. It has already garnered us a lot of attention and elevated our Order to new heights. We hope that, upon the release, the trend continues and more people get behind our banner. We will have to see, but the future is promising.
Brian Halsey/Riff Relevant: There are various subgenres of metal music coming out of California to grab people’s attention. Does that type of competitive atmosphere influence both your look and your sound?
Andrew/Empyrean Throne: We tend to look inward. Musically, we don’t give much thought to our surrounding environment. Sure, we have our influences and sources of inspiration, but when we write, we are trying to champion no other but ourselves. We always push each other to go well beyond our limits creatively.
For the visual presentation, we do, however, try to go against the grain whenever possible. Again, we always ask ourselves what we can do to add to the live experience that has been done or isn’t being done. It’s why we never made standard band logo scrims: everyone does it. That’s where we got the idea to do “war banners” marked with our sigil. People don’t expect to see that sort of thing.
Brian Halsey/Riff Relevant: Empyrean Throne has quite the visual live show, as well as some intense imagery in your recent music videos (specifically Haereticus Stellarum Part II & Ov Fire and The Void *Behemoth cover* ). Can you describe your creative process and what effect you are trying to achieve.
Andrew/Empyrean Throne: We are very careful craftsmen when it comes to our live presentation, which we call the “Omega Ritualis.” We want to take the audience on a journey, emotionally and spiritually. We want to open parts of the being that are locked away, so when planning for a live performance, we take extra consideration with the order of the set list.
We are just as dedicated to our music videos. Often we search for mediums that embody the spirit of the song, or avenues that help promote the message that we are trying to convey. For videos, we usually start with the core theme of the song and build the rest of the concept from there. Music videos present opportunities for artists to express something different visually that they might not be able to do on the live front, so when planning for video shoots, we try to look for that special something that can set the video apart and be truly unique.
Brian Halsey/Riff Relevant: Is there anyone in your personal life scared of the music you make or the image you’ve cultivated?
Andrew/Empyrean Throne: We have a lot of support for what we do from those close to us. Sure, there is a possible small minority of acquaintances who don’t understand the music or imagery and may find it off-putting, but we aren’t putting all this work into Empyrean Throne to please them.
Brian Halsey/Riff Relevant: You have a lot of detailed props for the show. Which was hardest to construct? Do you have one that would be considered a favorite?
Andrew/Empyrean Throne: Actually, the hardest construction project we have completed to date was our stage armor, part of the reason why it took so long to implement.
In terms of a favorite project, I’d give that honor to our war banners. It was the first big project we did, and it marked the beginning of Empyrean Throne’s transformation into the visual band you see today.
Brian Halsey/Riff Relevant: I’ve read that founding members of the band reference a trip to Scandinavia as a major deciding factor in the direction of Empyrean Throne. Where did you go (specifically) and what did you see / hear that made such a lasting impression on you?
Andrew/Empyrean Throne: The Nordic countries of Europe have a rich history of extreme music and also happen to be my family’s place of origin. After I completed my professional studies, I journeyed back to Scandinavia. I lived there for a full three months and traveled to some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring places I have ever seen.
One specific place that made a lasting impression and ignited my inner flame to pursue what would eventually become Empyrean Throne was my adventure through Iceland. That country is otherworldly. It is primal. It’s hard to put into words. It is something out of a Tolkien novel. There is a strange sense of untamed wild, yet a tranquil peace about the place. Iceland is a truly inspiring place, one that awoke something deep within and reminded me that this music is truly in my blood.
Brian Halsey/Riff Relevant: What is the most bizarre interaction you’ve had with a fan or at a show?
Andrew/Empyrean Throne: We have had a few. It usually involves someone who was deeply moved or touched by the music and performance, which is fantastic. While these instances are hard to categorize, I distinctly remember a one that took place at the first show we met Marco face-to-face.
At the close of our set, a person who identified herself as a ‘spirit reader’ said that she witnessed us call forth a being with whom we interacted during our performance. She said that the being gave us its blessing about mid-set. We continued to have a wonderful conversation with the spirit-reader and were pleased to know that the Omega Ritualis was a successful one that evening.
Brian Halsey/Riff Relevant: Do you think the recent wave of commercially successful black metal (by black metal standards) is good or bad for the longevity of extreme heavy music?
Andrew/Empyrean Throne: Personally, I can’t conceive why any success for a niche musical genre would be considered a bad thing. The more people who listen to extreme music, the greater the chance you get to garner a wider audience and make a more sustainable living from playing music you love.
We of Empyrean Throne are able to perform to an expanded audience because of this factor. I get the appeal of the black metal underground and artists wanting to share that realm, however, the goals of those acts differ from ours. Nothing wrong with that by my estimation.
Brian Halsey/Riff Relevant: You have already played alongside of some noteworthy bands. Is there anyone specific that you aim to perform with in the future?
Andrew/Empyrean Throne: We are honored to have the continued opportunity to perform alongside many supremely talented acts. Sure, there are many others with whom we wish to share the stage, but that speaks to an extensive roster. Rotting Christ would be a good place to start.
Brian Halsey/Riff Relevant: There seems to be great emphasis on making your music a spiritual journey of understanding. Do you have a message for the world as it exists in your eyes now? Your perspective is likely to evolve after the impact of Chaosborne.
Andrew/Empyrean Throne: To the mundane we bring fire. To those living in stagnate waters we grant disruption. To the spiritually imprisoned we offer illumination. Empyrean Throne will continue to grow and so shall its members; however, while we continue to evolve musically, our message shall remain true to the founding ideals that make up our Order.
Into Chaos. Towards the Beyond. Ever Vigilant!