"Sunholy" by Shade Empire Ensnares Listeners From Start to Finish (Album Review)
BY STEVE THIRIOT
Shade Empire, titans of Finnish symphonic black metal, have always been known to push boundaries. But with "Sunholy," they are not just pushing boundaries; they're obliterating them, setting them on fire, and dancing on their ashes. This album is a tempest, a maelstrom of sound and emotion that ensnares listeners from the opening note to its shattering conclusion.
"In Amongst the Woods" inaugurates our journey into "Sunholy" with a grandeur that is both haunting and enchanting. It lays the groundwork for the overarching narrative of the album, priming us for the cataclysmic orchestration and lyrical profundity that is to follow.
"The Apostle" hits with the force of a sledgehammer. Its relentless pace and the ever-present blend of symphonic elements with traditional black metal roots show that Shade Empire hasn’t lost their touch, but have instead refined it to a razor-sharp edge.
"This Coffin an Island" introduces a melancholic undertone, an emotional depth that feels like a shipwreck's sorrowful ballad; its immersive atmosphere is a testament to the band’s versatility.
The title track, "Sunholy," is, for lack of a better word, a behemoth. The 7-minute epic takes us through a cascade of emotions, crescendos, and lulls, reminiscent of an opera where every act is a culmination of perfection. It is Shade Empire at their most ambitious and most successful.
"Torn Asunder" and "Maroon" serve as twin pillars of audial assault, with blast beats and symphonic arrangements doing a tango of devastation. There’s a palpable tension between the chaotic and the serene, much like the album’s titular duality.
"All-Consuming Flame" burns with a passion that is both fierce and melodic. It’s a track that exemplifies the blend of raw energy with intricate harmonies, making it a standout in an album replete with masterpieces.
"Profane Radiance" is the penultimate harbinger of the album's conclusion. Its cascading melodies and guttural screams serve as a powerful reminder of the band’s ability to seamlessly merge brutality with beauty.
Finally, "Rite of Passage," though the shortest track on the album, serves as a poignant farewell. It’s a culmination of the journey, a reflection on the tumultuous sea of emotions and sounds we've traversed.
In essence, "Sunholy" is not just an album; it's an experience. With each track, Shade Empire challenges our perceptions, unravels our emotions, and reconstructs our understanding of what symphonic black metal can be. It is brutal in its power, exquisite in its execution, and absolutely unmissable for anyone who has even a passing interest in the genre.
In the pantheon of metal albums, "Sunholy" will hopefully take its rightful place as one of the greats. Bravo, Shade Empire. Bravo.