Cold Empire: From the Ashes of the Empire

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Cold Empire: From the Ashes of the Empire
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Cold Empire:From the Ashes of the Empire
Raw Melodic Black Metal
Naturmacht Records
August 30th, 2010
Release length: 37:58
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Formed in 2006, Cold Empire is an Italian Raw Melodic Black Metal act that finds their debut full-length release, From the Ashes of the Empire, being released through Maturmacht Productions. It’s rare to find a band that can actually throw around the term “raw” in the style without it directly referring to the production quality, which typically could be associated with that of an old casette deck with a built in microphone and record button. Instead, From the Ashes of the Empire takes the proper meaning of “Raw Black Metal” and puts it to good use against a melodic musical backdrop, which makes for a very interesting, and highly enjoyable debut full-length release.

While there are some great elements to this group that set them apart from others in the Black Metal scene, one of the more important things here is that lack of repetition and robotic elements within the music. It’s always great to come across a Black Metal act that is composed of one member, typically allowing that person’s dark vision to grow as he or she see’s fit. However, most of the time, those releases succumb to certain instruments being performed electronically, such as a drum machine, which doesn’t offer the same sound quality, or even the same pace, as a human drummer. Cold Empire has two members, one handling bass and guitar, with a session member recording the drums, which makes this album feel whole and flow a lot nicer then it would have if the band copped out with a drum machine, and clearly adds some extra technicality for each song. The only time the music doesn’t quite work out is during “Of Wood and Trees”, but that falls more towards the drumming, which feels a little stagnant in comparison to other songs on the release. While the double bass on the song is very well done, though a bit hard to hear in the mix through the album, the rest of the drumming, such as the snares and cymbols, just feel a little more robotic at times through the song, but luckily doesn’t impact the entire track as there are some moments where the drumming really shines through and offers up some great diversity and tempo changes that match the guitars more.

From the Ashes of the Empire offers up some great tracks, and plenty of musical diversity throughout. While the band does incorporate melody into their music, not all the tracks are strictly left to Black Metal that integrated hooks. There are plenty of times where the music really seems to focus moreso on a straight forward Raw Black Metal quality, such as the booming starter track “Wasteland” and “Toward the Eternal Silence”. However, it’s the melodic aspects of the album that really do shinee through. “Storms Will Rise” offers a lot to the listener, and, at times, comes off a bit Avante-Garde with the way the music is performed, without it being too over the top. The only problem here is that, while the music that starts the song off may sound a bit more experimental with the way the drums and handled, which is a bit hard to explain. The drumming used has an odd skip feel to it that couldn’t even be called two-step, which actually winds up leaving the music sound a bit hollow against the guitars. While this is an interesting idea, it just sadly doesn’t work against the guitars and leaves this song a little worse off then had the group incorporated more of a stereotypical drumming pattern, or even just blast beats, especially since the time between these areas are really heavy, and nicely showcase the band’s talent to weave melody into the more iconic Black Metal standard of the “raw” style tag.

Another nice touch to the recording is the thrown in bass-tone spoken word sections. Not all the tracks feature these, and it’s mostly just one, maybe two lines at best that seem to be utilized during bridges, it really does keep the flow of the album going nicely, bringing a little more activity to the music instead of just relying on the music, as well done as it may be, to continue to drive the material. However, for as short as these segments are, it never really seems to be too pivotol, though clearly not just a tacked on maneuver, until the closing track, “Forest of Hate”. The song ends From the Ashes of the Empire nicely, being a more slower, atmospheric track that honestly does feel cold, even grim, during the slower sections, though the music does pick up after a while, but even then not to the point of songs like “wasteland or “Of Woods and Trees”. The spoken words in this song simply add on to the slower pace and overall atmosphere, making it sound more melancholic then before, and really showing the importance that they can actually play in the music.

Overall, From the Ashes of the Empire is a highly impressive album, though it does have it’s faults. The only one that really will make an impact on the listener would be the odd drumming on “Of Woods and Trees”, which leaves some parts to sound hollow, whereas the rest of the album sounds whole in comparison. Other then that, the only thing that would have made the release better would have been a little more atmosphere in the music, much like on “Forest of Hate”. That’s not to say that there aren’t some atmospheric moments scattered through the release, and that every song needs to be slower paced and sound grim or melancholic, but a darker, or even commanding atmosphere is something that one would come to expect from a Black Metal band in general. All the pieces are there with Cold Empire, including fantastic guitar work and exceptional vocals that sound perfect atop the music the band plays, so hopefully there will be a little more emphasis on that in future releases. Outside all of that, From the Ashes of the Empire shows great promise from Cold Empire, and comes off as a very professional release with plenty of replay past the initial spin.

01. Wasteland – 7:28
02. Nocturnal Sea – 6:11
03. Toward the Eternal Silence – 6:32
04. Of Woods and Trees – 5:36
05. Storms Will Rise – 5:42
06. Forest of Hate – 6:28
Overall Score: 8.5/10
Cold Empire (Band)
Cold Empire (Logo)
Digital review copy of this release provided by Naturmacht Records.