EMPYREAN THRONE – Taking The Blackened Crown

August 11, 2017, 2 months ago

Nick Balazs

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EMPYREAN THRONE – Taking The Blackened Crown

Sometimes an album is more than an album, especially when it’s your debut. After toiling around for 6 years, Lake Forest, CA symphonic blackened metallers Empyrean Throne are ready to take king’s chair with Chaosborne released August 11th via M-Theory Audio. 

“Trust me we have had our fair share of trials and tribulations,” says vocalist Andrew Knudsen. “Hard work and perseverance pays off. It feels really good to say, ‘hey, this is our debut record and it’s a debut record that feels like a massive, symphonic, beast of an animal.’ It’s something we can be 100% proud of,” admits the singer. It’s almost if as the band has had a huge weight lifted off their shoulders, but they know it’s not going to get any easier.

Knudsen philosophizes, “Winston Churchill said, ‘An opportunist sees the opportunity in every challenge, but the pessimist sees the challenge in every opportunity.’ We want to be like that former, we want to say ‘This is within our reach, we can get from point A to point B. How do we do that?’ We’ve always tried to do that, but sometimes it’s been difficult, but there’s been plenty of challenges and there’s plenty more ahead.”

So how exactly does a band from Southern California play dark, grimy black metal? Knudsen explains, “It’s in my blood. My entire family is from Denmark and Norway. Scandinavian metal has always been a huge influence for me. We all love classical music, we just love that dark, sinister sound. Influences being Watain, Behemoth, Dimmu Borgir; we promote chaos Gnosticism. Obviously, there’s a spiritual side to this as well where we feel we’re not doing it just for the music, we’re doing it for something a little greater than ourselves. We just happen to be from Lake Forest, California.”

Empyrean Throne has been sitting on Chaosborne for months, but then they received a huge opportunity from M-Theory Audio, the new label imprint founded by former Century Media U.S. President Marco Barbieri, who also had trappings in Metal Blade and Nuclear Blast. In short, this guy has credibility.

Knudsen remembers how they received contact with M-Theory, “He first found us when we signed with EMG Management. Marco was on it like white on rice man. He reached out to us immediately. He was like, ‘I’ve been following you guys for a minute, I saw your video for ‘Haereticus Stellarum Part II’ and I was blown away.’”

They feel as if this a perfect position for them and are ready to and have trust in Barbieri. “First and foremost, Marco is a standup guy,” says Knudsen. “The man has cred, he’s a straight shooter, he doesn’t BS you, and he’s a genuine individual. It’s reinvigorating that guys like Marco are out there and want to take a young band and take them to the next level. He has a young label yes, but this is an opportunity for us to grow. He grows, we grow. It’s very much a symbiotic relationship. We feel he’s gonna give this band proper attention that the band needs and asks for and help us out. He’s been nothing but stellar.”

And Empyrean Throne are not taking their debut lightly. Chaosborne is a mammoth concept album spread into three acts and is not some “made up story”, but a “personal journey” the band has been through themselves and Knudsen notes that they like to promote “dark spirituality.” The story centers on a Templar named Mathias during The Crusades and basically discovers something within himself and becomes involved in a struggle with these “outer alien deities.”

Knudsen says, “I’m hugely inspired by the writings of HP Lovecraft. For fans of Lovecraft and that cosmic horror genre, they’ll have fun with this record.”

With this huge, fleshed out story, Knudsen admits the band probably doesn’t write music in a normal fashion. “I wrote a story that was split into three acts. I would reference stuff that we had been through as a band and I would pitch this stuff to the guys and everyone’s like ‘this is great’ and wanted to tackle the songs. We talked how each of the acts should have an identity and how each song should flow into the next one. You don’t want to sound like three different bands, but with what you’re trying to communicate, you have something that feels more like this in the first part of the album. Second part we wanted something a little more ethereal and aquatic, so we tried to bring that out in the music and with the third we wanted to get as gnarly and insane as we possibly could. I don’t think that’s technically a conventional way how bands write music, but that’s sort of the way we operate. We like to look at ‘What do we want to say with this record? What is the story as a whole? And we just go for it.”

Being a symphonic black metal bands, some acts really emphasize the symphonic aspect and forget they are a metal band. That is not the case with Empyrean Throne. “Sometimes with symphonic bands, it’s easy to throw the entire kitchen sink at the wall, but within the spectrum of sound, there’s only so much you can put there before something becomes lost,” explains the singer. In terms of the album’s sound, Knudsen says, “There’s a nice ebb and flow so nothing is conflicting against each other, so all the little intricacies that we do don’t get buried.”

“This record isn’t just for metalheads; it’s for people that listen to any type of music enjoy. We want everyone to get something out of this and by doing that we want to be clear by how we express that,” assures an enthusiastic Knudsen. 

And finally, for the new listener, why give this band a chance. Knudsen puts his marketing cap on and states, “We are symphonic black metal band, first and foremost, but there’s other things that connoisseurs of metal and connoisseurs of music will like. Our music is aggressive, it hits hard, yet there’s a lot of dynamics within the album Chaosborne. It’s different, but it you’re a fan of Marduk, Behemoth, Dimmu (Borgir), Septicflesh, Fleshgod (Apocalypse), you’ll enjoy it.”

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MYRKUR - "Måneblôt” (Relapse)

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