Album Review: Shade Empire – Omega Arcane
Shade Empire, a symphonic black metal band from Finland, are clearly influenced by the likes of Dimmu Borgir. However, I believe Shade Empire surpasses their role models in technical prowess and emotional impact. Omega Arcane is a complicated yet cohesive album, the kind you can hear a hundred times and notice some new detail with each listen.
Omega Arcane maintains a precarious balance between melodic ambiance and raw heaviness. The album is simultaneously atmospheric and grotesque. The sound walls are multi-layered and complex, but the long tracks and slow tempos prevent it from being overwhelming. Intricate piano melodies emulate the baroque masters. The epic grandeur of the orchestral compositions are complemented by acoustic guitars, bringing it all back down to earth. The drumming is inconspicuous but nevertheless provides a rhythmic backbone to the melodies.
The vocals are predominantly black metal screams, but there are occasional female cleans, notably in my favorite track, Disembodiment. The orchestral elements are at their peak in Disembodiment, which opens with suspenseful yet understated violins. The intro to this song is tantalizingly subtle, slowly blossoming into an intense black metal style. Several other songs feature atmospheric chorals in the background.
I thoroughly enjoyed the album, although I’m used to faster tempos, faster songs, and shorter records. However, symphonic black metal is a niche genre for those who can appreciate lengthy, nuanced, and epic music. All things considered, Shade Empire are skilled musicians and Omega Arcane is a testament to their abilities. Four stars out of five.